Thursday, September 17, 2009

Challah Types

It's interesting. Challah, the egg bread made by Jewish people the world over, has now become a gourmet art in itself.

Every person that makes challah has his or her own style of making it, and heaven forbid you suggest to any one of them to change even the smallest of details.

Down to what topping to use on your challah, or how to braid it, challah has become individualized to the extent that one simple type of food can be individualized.

Creativity for some of them knows no bounds- what with sprinkling a cake crumb topping on your challah, or black sesame seeds, or even the insides- chocolate surprise, fruit, garlic, or just your simple raisin bread.

The flour you use also makes a difference- sometimes showing who you are as a person. For the health nuts, they use pure spelt or rye flour- no wheat for them. For the mostly healthy, whole wheat is the flour of choice, and some moderately healthy people use a half and half mixture of whole wheat and regular. High gluten is for those who were once bakers, white flour serves for most an individual, and I'm sure there were other flour choices that I missed.

Some paint their bread with an egg wash, others with water, some add sugar, and others add oil.
Any way you do it, braid it, or make it, challah is one of those things that a Jewish person can't spend a holiday without.

Speaking of holidays, even the way you shape your challah shows something about you.
Some make a crown out of their challah for Rosh Hashana, others just a plain knot. Some use the woven braid technique found in A Taste of Challah, while others use the plain round braid technique. Some do twelve challahs, others do pull apart round breads. Some just give up and bake their challah in a loaf pan just as it is.

Taking challah (the piece of dough removed before baking that is known as challah- it used to be set aside for a tahor (ritually pure) kohen) with a bracha is something that I personally do rarely- it takes too much time, and I often times like to make fresh challah every week, which, since I have a small family, only requires taking challah without a bracha. But some take challah with a bracha every single week! If you go to Rebbitzen Kanievsky, in Bnai Brak, on Thursday, you could be part of her challah taking, along with many other women and girls, waiting to say Amen to her bracha.

So, what type of challah person are you?


Anonymous said...

Whatever my mother makes...

nmf #7 said...

Bad4- Oh come on. You don't even know if she makes whole wheat or regular?
And for that matter- you should try making challah one of these days....seperating challah is a segula for finding a zivug!

Jewish Side of Babysitter said...

Dropping in to say you have been Tagged

Shana Tova!

chanie said...

tagged you!

harry-er than them all said...

whole wheat with cinnamon baked in.

The best whole wheat challah i had was by this breslov family in tzfat, it was amazing.

Anonymous said...

like my mother (though she's usually the one to make it) High Gluten, white flour, with vanilla sugar in the dough and in the egg wash.
For R"H, dried apples inside. For special occasions/guests, choclate chips inside.
Even plain, her challah is heavenly. In the words of one regular cake, "your challah is like cake."
It's not quite. But it's close enough to it. Yum!

Staying Afloat said...

Half regular flour, half white whole wheat (it's all about the camouflage ). Sweet and doughy. If I don't make enough to say a bracha, it's not worth it to me- I freeze them and put them straight on the blech. But I don't do it year round.

itsagift said...

I actually read somewhere that it's better to bake challah less often with a bracha then more often without one...
I just baked challah for the first time by myself (my little sister helped me a little bit though) and it came out yum! High Gluten, white flour...I made some crowns and some 3 and 6 braids. My friend just gave me this idea to add sugar to the egg mixture and it really added a tastey touch to it! :)

nmf #7 said...

Jewish Side- I did it- thanks!

Chanie- Done. See above.

Harry-er- That sounds delicious! I should try that...

Anonymous- Wow- tons of toppings- sounds lovely! And cake challah is wonderful, unless you are Sephardi. My Sephardi neighbors claim that Ashkenazim think that side dishes are supposed to be desserts.

Staying Afloat- My neighbor does that- It looks so brown and yummy, with whole wheat inside. Oh, and good tip for the blech- mine always burn when I put them on a blech, maybe freezing it will help.

Itsagift- Really? What about those who have the minhag to bake every Friday/Thursday for Shabbos, but don't do it with a bracha?
I also put sugar in my egg mix- it makes the topping taste excellent. I'm sure your challahs tasted good too- kudos for baking yourself!

conservative scifi said...

I bake challah every week, but my twist is to use a bread machine to make the dough, which I then shape. It lets me start the process before work, and finish before shabbos starts.

Given the amount necessary to make with the bracha, it seems like the only practical way to do that and not have stale bread would be to get multiple families together.

Lauren said...

I have a great recipe that I got from someone in my neighborhood which is a honey-egg challah (white flour)-- that's the recipe that my mother uses. She also makes a partly whole-wheat one, which I sometimes make, and I made one this week that was whole wheat-rye-oatmeal, using honey as the sweetener. So good! If anyone wants recipes, let me know.

I often go away to friends (as I am still single) and make 5 lbs. of flour. If I'm only making for one meal then I make smaller batches. I like to make 5 lbs. of flour because then I can take challah with a bracha, but I also like fresh challah every week

(tip: if you freeze the challah right after it's baked, double-wrapped, defrost it for shabbos (heated on the plata or in the oven), it tastes as good as fresh)

nmf #7 said...

Conservative SciFi- I've never actually tried a bread machine- but sounds easy AND delicious!
Oh, and there are some families who finish tons of challah every week- think Sephardim who dip it into everything as the main part of their meal.

Lauren- WOW! Awesome recipe- please email it to me! Oh, and good tip about the freezing.