Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Christmas Challah

Although I hate Christmas because it seems to last 3 months and I am not a fan of Christmas music, I am a big advocate for parties! There are birthday parties, ugly sweater parties, parties because it's a Thursday, and of course, holiday parties. This year we made 2 Christmas challahs for 2 very special occasions. When our favorite shiksa Ally came for the weekend, we knew that we had to make a special challah just for her. And what better way to celebrate the Sabbath than by making a challah that celebrates a non-jewish holiday!?! Coming up with the right flavor was near impossible. The challah still had to taste good so a peppermint was out of the question. On my daily supermarket run I stumbled upon Christmas chocolate chips (brown, green and red) and knew I found what I was looking for. And naturally, I made Ally pick out all the brown chips to create the perfect Christmas effect.

The second Christmas challah was for a Christmas party at Sara's (Jeffrey's girlfriend) parent's house in NY. Among the guest list was Sara and her parents, Jeffrey, my mom, Jenn, Bailey, a family friend of Sara's parents, and me, so basically it was a bunch of Jews and one non Jewish person celebrating Christmas. But like I said before, I love parties, well as long as their is plenty of food and alcohol, and believe me we had plenty of both! After a very filling meal, an amazing cheese cake, and some great conversation, we were off to bed because the next day we had to drive back to MA in a 5 person vehicle with 5 passengers and a pup in the trunk. Bailey was not so happy about that one :(

Sara and Jeffrey had a driver on the way back to NY from MA. So high maintenance!

Recipe: (makes 2 loaves)
3/4 cup water
1 packet of active dry yeast (about 2 tsp)
1.5 tbsp honey
1 tbsp sugar
3 extra large eggs: 2 for dough, 1 for baste
1/4 cup oil
3-4 cups flour
1 tsp salt
Holiday chocolate chips

Mix wateryeasthoney and sugar 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 and then turn off the oven. Let stand for about 10-15 minutes or until the mixture starts to foam.

In a separate bowl mix 2 eggs and oil. 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. This prevents the dough from sticking to the bowl as it rises. Place the ball back in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place it in a warm place. Let the bowl sit for about 1-2 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size.

Remove dough from bowl and knead to get out all the air. There are 2 different ways that we made this challah. The first time we had the chips just inside the challah which kept the challah white on the outside. If you do it this way, roll out the strands and put chips in the center of each strand then pinch close. The second time we put chips in the dough, which made the outside of the challah red and white. For this version, divide up the dough and add chips to each portion, then roll out each strand and braid.

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. Then baste with egg wash (1 egg and 1/2 tbsp water) after it is done rising.

If you are making a wreath challah bake for about 18 minutes at 350 or until internal temperature is around 170. Check out our Braids and Shapes page for information on cooking times for other shapes. If the top of the challah is getting too dark or hard then place a piece of foil on top of it while the inside continues to cook.

Oh so festive!

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