We started the tradition of family Friday night long ago, before my husband (Greg) and I had children and before Greg went into medicine. This set the tone for ever Friday night for years to come. Even if Greg will be at the hospital on Friday night and all weekend, I still make the challah, and I look forward to sundown. Shabbat shalom.
There is something incredibly special about Friday night in our family. Friday night sets a tone for the weekend; it is an evening of peace, calm, rest and togetherness. All day Friday, I feel the excitement of the night to come. We will enjoy the evening with good food, great wine and, of course, challah.
My daughter, Naomi, donned in her pajamas and fresh from the bath sporting wild curls, spreads her challah with thick layers of butter and generous drizzle honey. A girl after my own heart.
When it comes to making challah, our children love to get involved. Our daughter Naomi protects the challah from the hands of her baby brother while it is rising outside on the children’s picnic table. Later, she sprinkles the seeds over the dough with abandon and watches over the loaf while it proofs. As the bread bakes, the smell that only baking bread can give off fills our house. The question “Mom, is it ready yet?” will inevitably be asked a plethora of times. One day, just maybe, Naomi will make challah on Friday afternoon with her daughter. Hopefully, she will pass down this family recipe.
Above and below: The challah proofs well by a window that is hit by the afternoon sun.
Fear not challah leftovers the next day. Extra challah is like gold. Challah french toast with warm maple syrup on Saturday or Sunday morning is a ritual that we cherish, especially our son Asher. If the bread becomes dry after a few days on the counter, the better the french toast will be. It will absorb even more of the vanilla-scented egg and milk mixture. Don’t you feel bad for all the people eating French toast made from boring sandwich bread instead of eggy, fluffy challah? A true travesty.
“Good Shabbos, Friends!”
Shanna’s Honey Challah
Moist, flakey and lightly sweet – not to mention healthful
2 Tbsp. honey
2 tsp. fine salt
1 package or 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 medium eggs, room temperature, beaten
1 tsp. cardamom
2 Tbsp. canola oil
2/3 cup very warm water
3 1/4 cups white wheat flour
1 beaten egg for egg wash
1 Tbsp. poppy seeds or sesame seeds
Additional flour for rolling out dough
1.) Place very warm water, honey, and yeast in a non-reactive bowl, such as a standing mixer with a dough hook attachment. Stir well with a fork. Allow the mixture to sit for fifteen minutes, or until it is very foamy. Stir in the two beaten eggs.
2.) On medium-low speed, slowly mix in the flour until all of the dough is on the dough hook. This should take all of the flour or slightly less. Turn the mixer up to medium speed and allow the mixer to continue to knead bread for about five minutes.
3.) Take dough out of the bowl and off of the hook. Spray the same bowl generously with canola oil spray and place dough in bowl. Spray the top of dough with additional spray and cover with a kitchen towel. Set the bowl in a very warm place and leave undisturbed. In the summer, outside in the sun is a perfect spot. After one hour, the dough will double in size. Punch the dough down three times. After another hour, the dough will rise again. Punch the dough down three times. It’s a great way to get out your aggression if it’s been a long day.
4.) Divide the dough into three even sections. On a floured surface, roll each section of the dough into long strands with your hands. Braid the strands and tuck each end of the loaf under. Brush the challah with egg wash and sprinkle with the seeds. Spray a cookie sheet tray with canola oil cooking spray and place the loaf on the sheet. Allow the dough to proof by letting the loaf sit in a warm place for at least an hour or up to three hours.
5.) Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake the challah for 30 minutes, or until the bottom of the loaf makes a hollow sound when thumped and is a rich, golden brown. Allow to cool, then tear large hunks off and enjoy!
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