This coming weekend is my grandson Zev’s bar mitzvah.
In addition to being a rather wonderful person, he is my first grandchild and named for my father, so he’s always had a special hold on my heart.
His mother, my daughter Meredith, asked me to bake the challah for the celebration.
I find myself inexpressibly moved by this request.
I really can’t say anything more, so I’ll just give you the challah recipe. It’s already been posted on this blog, but never before has it seemed this delicious.
2 packages active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (105-110 degrees)
1/2 cup sugar
8-8-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon salt
5 large eggs
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1-1/2 cups lukewarm water (about 100 degrees)
1 teaspoon water
poppy seeds or sesame seeds, optional
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, mix the yeast, 1/2 cup warm water, 1/2 teaspoon of the sugar and a pinch of flour. Stir, set aside and let rest for 5 minutes or until the mixture is bubbly. In a bowl of an electric mixer, combine 7-1/2 cups flour with the remaining sugar and salt. In a small bowl, mix 4 of the eggs, the vegetable oil and the lukewarm water. Add to the flour mixture. Add the yeast mixture. Blend ingredients thoroughly. Using the kneading hook, knead for 4-5 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic, adding more flour as necessary to make sure the dough is not sticky. NOTE: you can make this dough in a food processor (halve the recipe). Cover the bowl of dough and put it in a warm place to rise for about 1-1/2 hours or until doubled in bulk. Punch down the dough, cover the bowl and let rise again for about 30 minutes or until doubled. Remove the dough to a floured surface. Cut dough in 6 or 12 pieces depending on whether you are making one large or two smaller loaves. Make long strands out of the pieces. Braid the strands. Place the braided dough on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Beat the last egg with the tsp. of water. Brush this over the surface of the bread. Sprinkle with seeds if desired. Let rise again for 30 minutes. Bake for about 35-40 minutes for large loaf, about 28-30 minutes for smaller ones (they should be firm and golden brown).
Braiding a 6-strand Challah:
Place 6 strands of dough on a floured board. Press the strands on the top to seal them together. Now:
1. Take the strand on the far right all the way over to the left
2. Former far left all the way over to the right
3. The now far left into the middle
4. Second from right to the far left
5. The now far right into the middle
6. Second from left to far right
7. Now far left into the middle
Repeat 4-7 until the strands are used up. Press the strands to seal the bottom of the loaf.