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Key Challah - The key to good luck and prosperity (חלת מפתח)

On the first Shabbat after Passover it is customary to bake a key shaped challah in Israel. It represents the belief that it opens good luck and prosperity for the year to come.

The tradition of baking a key challah dates back many hundreds of years and is a more well-known custom in religious communities. But with the advent of social media, the tradition has caught on well beyond Orthodox Jewish circles.

This year specially I noticed many bakers posting their key challah on instgarm and Facebook.

But let me tell you a little secret about this key shaped challah. It is no different form any other challah you bake, same ingredients and same technique other than the shape, which is of a key.

Why just bake it after Passover? I say it is always a good idea to bake a key shaped challah that represents good luck!

So let's start making this simple and really fun challah!

Ingredients: For 1 key ( I always make 2, one for my daughter so I double my ingredients shown here)

500 grams bread flour or all purpose (plain) flour

¼ cup sugar

1 tablespoon dry instant yeast

½ tablespoon salt

¼ cup oil

1 egg

1 cup of tap water

Spray oil in a can

Sesame seeds (optional)

1 beaten egg with a little water for brushing on before baking

As a rule when mixing dough, if you find it too soft or watery, add a little flour until it thickens. If it's too dry add a little water until you get the correct consistency. Normally though, the amounts I have given worked perfectly for me using a scale for grams and regular US cup and spoon sizes. One important thing to mention is I always sift my flour before adding it to the other ingredients. I actually often sift all my dry ingredients. This will ensure a lighter and fluffier bread or pastry!

Turn on oven to 350 degrees

In a mixer bowl, add all dry ingredients together and mix lightly on a low setting. Add oil, egg and water and mix on low setting for about 7-8 minutes or until the dough is soft, separates from the sides of the bowl and is a little sticky. Take out the dough and shape it a little into a loose large ball.

Using spray oil, spray a bowl lightly and put your dough in the bowl. Spray the top of the dough and wrap with Saran Wrap. Let sit for 1½ - 2 hours or until the dough has doubled in size. Different kitchens will take different times for the dough to rise depending on the temperature of the room.

When dough has risen well, take out and place on a very slightly floured work space. Too much flour will make it difficult to roll.

Split the dough into half and set one part aside. This will be your second key challah. Cut the dough you’re working with into 2 pieces. make eight balls out of one of the pieces. Take a round dish or small bowl and place the balls around. This is to help shape the key hole.

Snip each one with a pair of kitchen scissors

Take the other part of your dough and cut in 2. Roll them into two long strands.

Cut a smaller piece from each of the long strands for parts of the key and set aside. Join the tops of the long strands

Start twisting them all the way down.

Cut the two strands set aside in half. You will have 4 short strands. Make two short. twisted strands out of them. you now have one long and 2 short twisted strands

Shape you key by taking out the center bowl. Adding the long and the short strands as shown in the photo.

If you have dough left over make into a round twisted braid. Brush with a beaten egg and bake in oven for about 20 - 30 minutes, every oven is different so check periodically, when golden in colour and the flat bottom of the challah is a little hard it’s done!

It is generally just pulled apart in pieces to eat. This makes a beautiful treat to bring to a home you’re invited to. Shabbat Shalom!

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