Well I think congratulations are in order. You see I don’t consider myself a cook, let alone a baker. I put the challah challenge out there to challenge me as well as all of you – and if I do say so myself, I think I nailed it! That is hard for me to say since I am usually quite self deprecating about my cooking skills, let alone baking skills.
Until now, the only thing I had managed to bake, let alone attempt to bake, was chocolate chip banana bread. Last year it was my “thing” and I will have to share that recipe with you next time. So when I decided to take on challah, that sweet, moist, delicious, mouth watering Jewish staple at any table (except for Passover of course) I thought I must have lost my mind and so did my hubby and daughter.
So I did my research and away I went. That resulted in the Shiksa’s Challah Challenge! I found 25 popular challah recipes on from some of my favorite blogs and websites. I included simple challah recipes, healthier challahs, and of course yummy chocolate challahs. The first challah I chose to attempt was – yep you guessed it – The SIMPLE CHALLAH from Jessie at Life as a Strawberry.com.
My Simple Challah Experience
So on a cold Friday night, Warren, my husband and I decided to light some Shabbat Candles, and start the process. Warren asked if he could help and I thought why not, this is something we could do together!
The recipe called for the dough to rise in the fridge overnight. So we started mixing the dough about 1 1/2 hours before bed. Here is what we started with. We mixed the ingredients and made the dough, which took awhile and was kind of a strange experience for me. I kept asking if we were doing it right…We were.
We shared the process with our friends on Instagram, and the response was great! Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram to follow our next challah making challenge!
Next was letting it to rise, punching it down and then covering it and putting it in the fridge. The next morning it had risen to almost 3 times its size! So I let it come back to room temperature (about 3-4 hours) and it rose some more! We turned the dough out, cut it up and created the 12 strands for the braiding of 2 loaves.
I did it! Now just have to let it rise again #challah #shiksaschallenge #jewishbreakfast #jewish #jewishfood #interfaith #shiksa #shiksasguide How did I do @misslfine ? A photo posted by Melanie Fine (@shiksas_guide) on
This was a little harder than I thought too, but we did it! The secret was to make each stand of dough about the same size in length and girth. Now to the braiding.
For some reason I tried the 6 braid on my first simple challah. I watched this video at least a hundred times (ok slight exaggeration) and then tried it myself. Warren recorded it so you could see how easy, yet difficult it was to do 🙂 You may even be able to hear the video in the background since I am watching it as I braid.
Next we were to leave them to rise another 1 to 1 1/2 hours. They just kept rising! Warren asked if I bought sesame seeds (he loves sesame seeds!) to put on the top. I didn’t buy any as it wasn’t on the recipe. So he collected the remnants of the sesame seeds from his bagel he had for breakfast and I added them to one of them.
Then in the oven for 30 min and voila! 2 beautiful loaves of Challah.
And the Verdict?
Well as you can see they looked amazing. My nephew, his girlfriend and my daughter (and her roommates) all loved it. I thought the challah tasted a little yeasty (yes it’s a word – at least in my vocabulary). But everyone else loved it so that is what counts.
What would I do Differently When Baking a Simple Challah Again?
I think that I would make sure I had sesame seeds as it really added to the taste, and Warren loves them! I would have used just a touch less yeast and baked them a couple of minutes less.
Also I would make 2 batches and freeze the extra loaves to make bake another time. Other than that this was a great recipe!
So now it’s your turn. Go out and try it. I didn’t think I could bake a challah, and I just found out my mother in law has never baked a challah before. So if I can do it… I KNOW YOU CAN! So join go pick a recipe, bake the challah and take a few pictures!