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Making bread can be an incredibly hard and time consuming task. However, the outcome of baking it can be incredibly rewarding and delicious.
One of my best memories as a child was baking bread with my bubbe, my mother, and my father. The recipe that we always came back to was challah. Challah is a traditional Jewish bread. It is sweet, fluffy, and tastes much like honey.
Now sure, you could go to the store and purchase challah but I have always found that store bought is not as good as the homemade. I don’t think the stores have enough time to work on or create a delicious thing like challah, and when they do it is mass produced and typically very dry. So here I am going to include the recipe for our favorite challah. Yes, it is time consuming, but in the end it is so incredibly worth it.
Recipe for Challah
- 2 packets of active dry yeast
- 1 1/2 cups of warm water
- 1/2 teaspoon of sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1/2 cup of honey
- 1/2 cup of vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
- 8-9 cups of flour
- 2 cups of raisins (optional)
- sesame or poppy seeds (optional)
- Preheated oven to 350 degrees.
- In a small bowl, stir together yeast, 1 cup of warm water, and sugar. Set aside for 10 minutes to make sure it proofs (bubbles).
- In a large bowl, beat three of the eggs with the honey. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of warm water, the oil, and the salt. Mix well. Add the yeast mixture and beat well. (Here is where you would add the raisins if you wanted to add them.)
- Add one cup of flour at a time, mixing well after each addition. Keep adding flour until the dough is dry enough to turn onto a surface to knead. You will still need to add more flour until the dough doesn't stick to your fingers anymore.
- Clean a large bowl, lightly oil it, and put the dough in bowl and turn it so all sides are oiled. Bowl must be big enough for dough to double in size. Put the bowl in a warm spot (covered with a wet towel, also on top of the dryer while it's running works great). Leave it to sit until the dough doubles in size (approximately 2 hours). Punch dough down and turn out onto a floured surface or board. Knead for a few minutes then divide it into three equal parts. Cover two of the parts with the wet towel again. Divide the third part into 3 equal parts again and braid it (so roll them out into long rod like peices of dough and then braid). Repeat that process with the other two parts.
- Put the now loaves of bread on cookie sheets and again let them rise until doubled in size (2 hours approx.)
- Mix the remaining egg with 1 tablespoon of water and brush it over the loaves. Sprinkle with sesame seeds or poppy seeds if desired.
- Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
Challah is a great bread for any occasion and is incredibly versatile. We use it for bread and butter at family gatherings. We also make knotted rolls out for holidays like Thanksgiving or Christmas. We also like to cut it thicker and use it to make the most delicious French toast. There are also so many other ways you could use it! Those choices are completely up to you!
I really hope you enjoy baking challah bread and maybe start a tradition with your own children while making it. Little things like this are the things I remember most about while spending time with my family.