Challah is the Jewish Sabbath and holiday bread, and it can be made a number of ways, each manner rich in meaning and tradition. Twelve humps from two small or one large braided bread recall the miracle of the 12 loaves for the 12 tribes of Israel. Round loaves, where there is no beginning and no end, are baked for Rosh Hashanah to symbolize continuity. Ladder and hand shapes are served at the meal before the fast of Yom Kippur, the ladder symbolizing that we should ascend to great heights, the hand that we may be inscribed for a good year. However you make it, be sure to follow a simple classic recipe like mine, and enjoy it in good health with your loved ones.
Makes 2 challahs
1 kg. (2 1/4 lb.) whole wheat flour
2 tbsps. dry yeast
1 tbsp. brown sugar
4 tbsps. date honey or molasses
2 1/2 cups warm water
1/2 cup oil
1 tsp. salt
Sesame seeds for garnish
1. Mix all ingredients and knead until dough forms. If the dough is too sticky, add a little more flour until dough is easy to handle.
2. Let dough rise 20 minutes. Knead the dough with a bit of oil. Let rise again for 20 minutes.
3. Turn dough into lightly floured surface. Punch down and roll out into a rectangle. Cut into 6 equal parts. Roll each part into a rope. Make a braid out of three ropes. Place on baking sheet and let rise again for 20 minutes. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle sesame on top.
4. Bake for 30 minutes at 180°C/350°C.