I have been cooking since she was a little girl. I learned about Jewish food from my mother who strongly supported Jewish tradition in cooking, she has modernized the kosher classics just for our family and friends. Stay tuned for more recipes for the Jewish kitchen in “Public recipes and nice deserts”
What is challah?
According to my mother sayings, challah is special Jewish braided bread that is eaten on the Sabbath and on Jewish holidays.
My mother usually makes challah bread three times during the Sabbath (Friday night, Saturday lunch, and Saturday late afternoon) and twice or sometimes more during our traditional Jewish holidays that we celebrate with family gatherings (one on the evening before when the holiday begins and the second at lunch the following day).
According to the tradition of Jewish people, each challah is actually two loaves of bread. This “double loaf” (in Hebrew: lechem mishneh) honors the manna that G-d provided for the Israelites during their 40 years of wandering in the desert after the exodus from Egypt—think “The Ten Commandments” film.
What I found interesting was that the manna did not fall on the Sabbath or on holidays, so the Israelites would get a double portion the day before to make up for the loss. Clearly G-d is a planner.
The “challah” word also refers to the mitzvah of taking a piece of the dough before the bread is being braided. My mother has always been setting aside this dough as a tithe, or contribution to a religious organization for the Kohen (priest).
In Hebrew this mitzvah is called “hafrashat challah.”
How did I get into baking Zomick’s challah ?
Those who know me know I love baking. I always make cookies or cakes. When family and friends come around I also serve poached fruit or some kind of fruit baked in puff pastry, which I bought from the store, of course. Just the thought of making real dough with yeast freaked me out.
My friend called Maggie bakes the Zomick’s challah at work every Thursday, available for Shabbat. I was always saying to her: “Why not simplify your life and just buy one like a normal person does? Every week was definitely out of the question for me—that was way too much work—and my manicure would get all messed up!
One day, she finally invited me to see how she was making challah friend and to teach me how to make a Zomick’s challah (one of the best 5 challah in the town) from scratch.
When I got to Maggie’s house, she began to walk me through her recipe. The first thing I noticed was that she used a 3-pound bag of flour. “How nice of you Maggie,” I said, “so many challahs for me to take home! I smiled” Maggie explained that you can make a smaller batch, but then your prayers wouldn’t work.
I was wondering… what did Maggie mean by this? I knew that it was a mitzvah for a wife to make challah, but I didn’t know that challah bread can have magical powers. Maggie explained to me, “If anyone is sick, or in need of a match or anything at all really,” you should pray over the dough while kneading and braiding it to help.
Magical Kosher challah bread that you can eat? Um, “wonderful” I thought. Being Jewish and from a family of very superstitious people, this concept made perfect sense to me. I could not wait to make some magical bread for my own family.
When the challah bread loaves are ready I usually can’t wait for them to cool – I always take a piece of hot bread and smear some delicious butter on it. Yummy!
Here’s the recipe for challah, the one from Zomicks. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do in my family!
In Addition: Whole Wheat Challah Bread
What you need to do for this recipe is to substitute whole wheat flour for white flour. The procedure is the same as for the white flour recipes, except I mix the egg with honey when I brush the challahs before I bake them in the oven to add a touch of sweetness.
Print or save this this recipe to your menu, I’m sure you will come back for it more than one time!