Photos by: Reuven and Tamar Ansh
Even those people who do not normally make challah all year long usually do find that they want homemade challahs for Rosh Hashana. Round challahs are most traditionally used for this time of year, as a reminder of the cycle of life. Many people also have the custom to serve sweetened foods as a harbinger to usher in a sweet ad delectable judgement and challah is no exception to this custom! For this reason, Rosh HaShanah challahs are often sweeter than those served the rest of the year. Some add more sugar, others add raisins, still others do both. I enjoy adding all this to my challahs, but with a twist: after they are egg-glazed and ready to be baked, I sprinkle each with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. The smell they emit while baking is absolutely heavenly and the taste is out of this world. Truly a holiday treat!
Delicious Egg Challahs
This is quite a nice recipe, but as challah recipes abound at this time of year, the shaping I would like to demonstrate can be done with any good dough. However, this recipe is quite good, so it’s worthwhile to try it out
Makes: 5 large loaves or about 20-25 small individual sized rolls
Remember, that if you have a small family or don’t want to use so much challah at once, either halve the recipe or freeze the extra challah.
2 ounces/50 gram cube of fresh yeast or 2 Tablespoons of dry yeast
3-4 cups very warm water, divided
¾ cup canola oil
¾ cup sugar, divided
1½ T. salt
17 cups freshly sifted flour (2.3 kilos of flour/just about 5 lbs. of flour)
1 more egg for glazing
seeds for sprinkling, optional
** Variations: for sweeter challahs at this time of year, you can increase the sugar content to one full cup or add one packet (1 Tablespoon) of vanilla sugar or add 1 Tablespoon of honey to your eggs for glazing. You can also sprinkle a mix of cinnamon & sugar onto your egg glazed challahs directly before they go into the oven.
Sift your flour and set it aside. In a small bowl, add 2 cups of warm water, the fresh yeast and ¼ cup of the sugar. Cover the bowl loosely and leave it to activate for about 8 minutes.
In the mixing bowl add: oil, salt, rest of the sugar, rest of the water, 5 eggs, 8 cups of flour.
Using your dough hook, mix until it becomes a thick mixture. Check your yeast to make sure it activated properly. If so, pour it into your mixing bowl and continue to knead. It should now turn into a sticky dough. Add the remainder of the flour, slowly, until it is all kneaded in. If the dough is too firm, add bits more oil and water until it is smooth, pliable and non-sticky. Turn the dough out onto an oiled surface and knead for a few minutes by hand to ensure that all the pieces from the bottom of the mixing bowl are equally incorporated.
Separate challah at this point, with a blessing.
Place your dough in a large plastic bag to rise. If you are going to bake the challahs that day, let the dough rise until double in bulk, about 1½ to 2 hours, covered in plastic. If you are not baking right away, place the dough, within a large plastic bag, in the fridge overnight or for several hours. After the dough has risen sufficiently, punch it down and get your pans ready for baking. Line all pans with parchment baking paper.
Divide the dough into five large equal sized pieces for 5 large challahs. Cut each chunk into the amount of strands you will need (3, 4 or 6). Roll out each piece into a flat oblong circle, and then roll them up jellyroll style to achieve a smooth strand. After you have done this to all the pieces, grease your hands with a bit of oil and roll out each strand to desired length.
You can now make simple round challahs
, or you can try this really nice technique for a designer look.
Place two strands down in front of you horizontally. Place the third strand over those two horizontal pieces, vertically. Then place the last strand over all of it, in the center, but horizontally again.
Each side now has 3 strands, and the top and bottom only have one strand. Braid each side as if you are braiding a standard three-strand challah.
Snip off a bit from each end of your “three’s” so they won’t be so long. Take this snipped off bit and roll it into a ball. If you want to add raisins into your challahs, push them into this ball.
Carefully lift the challah off the working surface. Place the ball of dough underneath its center and fold over both sides of three over it, on the underside of the challah. Now do the same thing with the two loose single strands – just pull them underneath the challah and attach them to the underside, over the other strands. Pinch them gently together and look at your beautiful challah!
Preheat your oven to 375°F/190°C about 20 minutes prior to when the challahs will be ready to bake. Brush the risen challahs with the last egg and add toppings of your choice. Bake for 15 minutes at the above temperature, then turn the temperature down to 350°F/180° C and continue baking until the challahs are golden brown on top and bottom.
Now here’s a sticky and delicious cake that has lots of Rosh Hashana flavors in it honey, applesauce, raisins
Honey Raisin Applesauce Cake
Yields: 9×13 size cake or 2 loaf pans
1/2 cup oil
1 & 3/4 cups sugar
1 large egg
1 cup applesauce
1/2 cup honey
2 & 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoons allspice
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 cup water or orange juice
1/2 cup yellow raisins + 1 Tablespoon additional flour
Preheat the oven to 350°F / 180°C.
Place the oil and sugar into the mixer bowl and begin to cream. Add in the egg and mix some more. Add in the honey and the applesauce, mix to a thick, creamy consistency. Add in the flour, allspice, cinnamon, baking soda and water. Mix until smooth. Toss the raisins with the 1 Tablespoon of flour and add them into your batter. Mix until they are just incorporated. Pour into baking pans.
Slide the baking pans into your hot oven and bake until they test clean in the center, about 40-50 minutes.
Now that we’ve covered our holiday bases with both round challahs and a nice honey based cake, let’s go on to some foods for the meals. This next one is simple to prepare and is based on one of the simanim we eat for Rosh Hashana, leeks (karti).
2 large onions, diced
2 leeks, cleaned well, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
2 ribs of celery, diced
3 Tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup breadcrumbs or matzo meal
1 cup flour
2 Tablespoons additional oil
In a large pot, sauté the onions, leeks, garlic and celery until they are softened. Turn off the flame. Add in the salt and pepper and mix it well.
Scoop the vegetables into a bowl. Crack the eggs into a glass and beat it with a fork. Add to the vegetables, along with the breadcrumbs, flour and additional oil. Mix well to incorporate.
Heat a large frying pan sprayed with cooking spray or a bit more oil. Form small patties and fry until golden and crispy on both sides. Stand them up, in a row, in a loaf pan and cover until ready to serve.
And here is one more sweet and tasty item for your Rosh Hashana table
Stewed Red Cabbage & Raisin Salad
Serves 6 -8
1 large head red cabbage, shredded
1/2 head of a small green cabbage, shredded
1/4 cup water
2 large onions, diced
2 large green apples, chopped
2 Tablespoons oil
1/2 cup dark raisins
1 Tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 Tablespoon lemon juice *
*Note: During Rosh Hashana many people do not eat sharp or tart foods. I left this in the recipe anyhow as it adds to its flavor but is not readily discernible and the recipe is still sweet.
Put the shredded cabbages into a pot, add the 1/4 cup water and bring to a boil. Cook for 15 minutes, remove from the heat and drain in a colander. The cabbage may turn purple or blue.
Saute the onions in the oil for 5-8 minutes. Add in the apples during the last 3 minutes and toss to ensure that they will not burn. Add the cabbage back into the pot, together with the raisins, sugar and lemon juice. Mix it well, Cover the pot and let it simmer on a low heat for 30 minutes. Serves well hot or cold.
Kesiva v’Chasima Tova to all and may everyone be inscribed for a happy and sweet New Year.
Tamar Anshis an author, freelance recipe developer and food columnist. Her articles have appeared in Jewish publications worldwide. Her bestselling books include A Taste of Challah (Feldheim Publishers), Let’s Say Amen (Feldheim Publishers) and Splitting the Sea (Targum Press). Her latest cookbook, A Taste of Tradition: Pesach – Anything’s Possible! Over 350 non-gebrochts, gluten-free, and wheat-free recipes, offers over 350 luscious, Gluten free no-fail recipes designed for Pesach and all year ’round (Targum Press). Tamar’s new one day home course “Tasting the Bounty of Israel” is now available to groups visiting Jerusalem. Contact her via her website www.TamarAnsh.com.