Saturday, December 29, 2012

Rugulah Challah

One word: Birthright.
The past 10 days have been some of the best days of my life! Between the camel rides, climbing Masada, having my second Bat-Mitzvah, partying in hotels, being serenaded by an Israeli soldier, and swimming in the dead sea, nothing can possibly compare to this experience. Although this was far from my first trip to Israel, more like my 10th but I have kind of lost count, it was definitely the most memorable.

We started our trip in the north and went to both the Syrian and Lebanon border. While we were at the Syrian border we actually heard and saw gun shots which was kind of scary to think that people were dying as we watched. On the fourth day our group was joined by 6 Israeli soldiers who spent only 5 days with us. It was defiantly the soldiers that brought our group together. The first night they joined us we went to the hot springs, which was awesome, even though we smelled like sulfur for a few days.

We had the best soldiers! OH-IO
One of the most amazing parts of our trip was when we went to the Western Wall. There were tons of Israeli soldiers at the wall who were dancing and singing, and of course being the American that we are, we harassed them for a photo. I have to say that Yad Vashem was defiantly one of the sites that made the most impact. I had been to the holocaust museum in Washington DC, but it does not nearly compare to Yad Vashem. At the end of the museum there is a children's memorial that consists of 3 candles in the center of a dark room and mirrors that surround it. The reflection of the 3 candles makes the image of an infinite number of candles, representing the 1.5 million children that died in the holocaust.

Also while we were in Jerusalem I had my second Bat-Mitzvah. Even though it was just in our hotel, and all I had to do was say the prayer before and after the torah portion, it was just as much a Bat-Mitzvah as the one I prepared nearly a year for. But this time I actually wrote my own speech. The first time my Bat-Mitvah teacher said it was so bad that he rewrote the whole thing. The only thing I'm salty about is that I heard we would be lifted in the chairs after the ceremony and I was disappointed to learn that it was a lie. I mean I could live without the presents, but I at least wanted to be lifted in the chair or play snowball.

Our Camel Herrold
One of the hardest parts about our trip was saying goodbye to our soldiers. We only had a few days with them but we had gotten so close. After Jerusalem, we went south and spent the night in the Bedouin tents. That night we went out in the desert and had some time to reflect by ourselves. For some reason our tour guide decided we should go back to the camp without checking to see if everyone was there, so we ended up leaving 2 people alone in the desert, whoops. We had to wake up early the next morning for our 6:30am camel ride. I would share pictures but I'm not a morning person so I had to delete all the photos of me. The 10 minute climb up Masada wasn't bad, but apparently there is no real significance to it, or at least according to our tour guide it's only an American tourist place. We finished off the day with a swim in the dead sea. And warning, the sand at the dead sea isn't sand, its rocks, and walking barefoot is really really stupid and painful.

 We finished off our trip with an archeological dig and a crawl through the Beit Guvrin Caves, which got real dirty, as you can tell. We also visited the Rabin Center, which was actually kind of boring, and Independence Hall. We also got to do some shopping in Tel Aviv where two of our Israeli soldiers came to visit us one last time.

The reason i decided to make a rugulah challah after my trip was because my friend Michelle and I had gone to numerous bakeries, gelato shops, and crape places. Yumm!

Recipe: (makes 2 loaves)
3/4 cup water
1 pack of active dry yeast (about 2 tsp)
1.5 tbsp white sugar
1.5 tbsp honey
3 extra large eggs: 2 for dough, 1 for baste
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup oil
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp cinnamon
3-4 cups flour
1 tsp salt
Chocolate chunks/chips

Mix water, yeast, white sugar, and honey in a mixing bowl. Place in a warm place. This could be next to a window that gets sunlight, or I like to place it in the oven at 120 degrees. Let stand for about 10-15 minutes or until the mixture starts to foam.

In a separate bowl mix 2 eggs, brown sugar, 2 tbsp oil, vanilla, and cinnamon. Add to the yeast mixture after it has foamed.

Add 2 cups of flour, followed by the salt, and then the rest of the flour. Make sure you mix the flour as you are adding it. Continue to add flour until the dough is no longer sticking to your hands.

Knead the ingredients and form into a ball. Oil the large bowl and then roll the ball of dough in the oil. Place the ball back in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place it in a warm place. Let the bowl sit for 30-60 minutes, or until he dough has doubled in size.

Remove dough from bowl and knead to get out all the air. Roll out the strands.

Sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon on the strands and then place chocolate on top. If using chocolate chunks you may want to cut them up but that isn't necessary. 

We made a three strand challah and challah croissants but you can do any shape you like. We ended up with some extra dough so Jenn made a challah bomb, which kind of looks like an empanada.

After braiding the challah place on a buttered cookie sheet and allow challah to rise for at least 30 minutes in a warm place. This allows the dough to rise again.

Baste with egg wash (1 egg and 1/2 tbsp water). Feel free to sprinkle cinnamon or brown sugar on top of the egg wash. We didn't only because we already cleaned up the kitchen and didn't want to make a mess.

Bake the croissants and empanada for about 15-20 minutes, and three strand challah for about 30 minutes at 350 or until the internal temperature is around 170. If the top of the challah is getting too dark or hard then place a piece of foil on top of it.

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