• Fri. Sep 30th, 2022

Challah: the Jewish sanctified bread

ByChiara Casagrande

Sep 27, 2021

Everyone needs some good rest, even God himself! Can you think of a better why to enjoy your day off than having some amazing food with your friends and family? Here you have the recipe for Challah, the Jewish sanctified bread!

Challah: the perfect bread for a Saturday lunch

Braided Challah

Creating the whole world surely requires a lot of effort, even if you are God in person! Do you remember anything from science classes? “Carbohydrates are the best source of energy!” No surprise that this sweet bread represents the best way to enjoy a special meal with your family on day of celebration!
First, let’s begin with the name of this meal. According to the Jewish tradition, the word “Challah” does not indicate a braided loaf of eggy, shiny, slightly sweet bread. This term is not connected with a specific type of bread. Instead, it denotes every kind of bread that has been sanctified or that you consider in a certain way holy.

Even in the Christian tradition, which derives from the Jewish one, there is a strong connection between bread and the divine world. According to the rituals, indeed, believers receive the Eucharist every Sunday. This is nothing more than a commemoration of Christ’s sacrifice. They “eat his body” and “drink his blood”. Actually, they eat ostias and drink sanctified wine. The reason why food and the divine are so deeply related is quite understandable: we need food to stay alive and in many religions gods gave humans life. It is the strongest bond you can think of!

Shabbat: a day for rest

The ritual of Shabbat

“Shabbat” literally means “He rested”, and it coincides with Saturday, the day God chose to rest, after having created the whole world. Jews still celebrate this day: every kind of work is forbidden! People start cooking on Friday night (they cannot do it on Saturday!) many different dishes they will enjoy the day after. The most interesting part is the following: even the preparation of food is part of a ritual! On Friday, at sunset, they bless some candles and they light them up. Then they bless some wine too. On Saturday they have lunch with family and friends, enjoying dishes such as Hamin and Cholent.

Of course, they want to serve these main dishes with some special and amazing bread: the Challah. On the eve of Shabbat, the Jews lay on the table two loads of white bread, to remember the double portion of Manna that fell from the sky. God sent it from heaven on a Friday, so it would last even for the day after. The bread has a braided shape, because it symbolizes a wedding garland, what a sweet thing! Now, let’s move to the actual recipe and make sure you bake it on a Friday night!

Challah: the recipe for the Jewish sanctified bread

Challah, the sanctified bread

Here you have the recipe for an amazing Challah. It is perfect for an actual Jewish meal but also for a snack with your friends!

Ingredients:

  • 500 g of flour
  • 20 g of beer yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 spoons of oil
  • Half a tablespoon of sugar
  • 30 g of aniseed for the dough (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon of poppy seeds or sesame seeds for decorating the surface
  • 1 egg yolk to polish the surface
  • Water to taste

Proceeding:

First, you want to put all of the flour in a bowl (leave aside just a spoon of it). Then, take another smaller bowl and melt in it the beer yeast. Add some warm water, a teaspoon of sugar and a spoon of flour. Now, make a central hollow in the flour and pour the yeast once it is ready. Cover the bowl with a cloth and wait. After 30 minutes, you will see the mixture has risen. Pour it onto a floured surface, add salt, oil, aniseed seeds and sugar and knead well. Add more water until the loaf is soft and smooth. Cut the dough in two parts. Then, cut again every part in three smaller sections (6 in total). Braid them together and you will have two cute braids.

Put them on a pawn and wait for 30 minutes. Now, brush the dough with the eggwash. Bake for 5 minutes at 200°. Then, lower the temperature of the oven at 180° and let them bake for 40 minutes. Let them golden. Now, your Challah is finally ready! Call your friends and enjoy a super sweet meal! Do not forget some good wine or, if you like it, some beer!