I am a writer and a Mommy. I am a devout Jew. These are the most important books I have read: The Tao te Ching by Lao Tzu, Stephen Mitchell translation. Spiritual Divorce by Debbie Ford. Living Inspired by Akiva Tatz. My kitchen would suggest I'm a closet carny, as would my love of Branson.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Amy's Challah

Have I ever told you how I make challah?

I think I have but here is my recipe:
5 cups flour
1 cup warm water
at least 1 tablespoon yeast
1/4 cup of oil
1/4 cup of honey
1/4 cup of sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp salt

I make the dough in a bread machine on the dough setting.  

First I put a generous amount of yeast in the warm cup of water and let it proof for a few minutes so I know it's going to be ok.

I put the oil, honey, sugar and eggs in the bread machine and then pour in the yeasty water.  

I put the flour in there with the salt on top.

After the dough is finished - about 2 hours - I pull it out and braid it and let it sit at least another hour.

I bake it at 375 for about 30 minutes depending on how I shaped it.  

You can brush it with an egg wash and add seeds.  

Making Challah for Shabbos is a special task.  It isn't just following a recipe.  You are supposed to use 5 lbs of flour or 12 cups which means you would more than double my recipe above - but you do this for a couple of reasons.  

One is that you want to make two loaves.  The other is that you want to take some of your dough and burn it or throw it away as an offering.  Like EVERYTHING else in Judaism, the ritual of making Challah is used to elevate the ordinary physical world to the realm of the spiritual.

But honestly, it is very difficult to understand the concept of moving in the physical world with the purpose of affecting the spiritual world.  It's almost impossible to understand the idea really.  

I feel quite happy when I manage to say the blessings and have a moment of holiness over Challah I bought at the store on Shabbat.  But it is great when I bake my own.  I was in the habit of doing it awhile back and I got way out of the habit.  Maybe I can get back into doing it because aside from lighting the candles, it seems to me to be the most special thing you can do for Shabbat.

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