We bake an oval challah every Shabbat and we traditionally braid it. But why do we make it round on this holiday, Rosh Hashanah which is the Jewish New Year?
There are a few reasons given depending on who you ask but the one I chose to believe is this. The round challahs have no end, symbolizing (and actualizing) our wish for a year in which life and blessings continue without end. This reason is good for me.
So here I'll try to describe the method of braiding the round challah as best as I can. As soon as I have a video of it I will post it because often it is easier to follow visual instructions rather than written ones. The recipe is almost identical to a Shabbat braided oval challah but it is just a little sweeter to symbolize the wish for a sweet new year to come.
I will also be adding an oval braided challah recipe soon. But for now, Happy and Sweet New Year. שנה טובה ומתוקה
Makes 2 medium challahs
500 grams (approx 2 ½ cups) bread flour, all purpose flour or plain flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon instant yeast
½ tablespoon salt
¼ cup olive oil
1 cup of room temperature water
For brushing on challah before placing in oven:
I egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon water and a pinch of salt
Sieve flour into mixer bowl. Add all dry ingredients and mix lightly for a minute. Add egg and olive oil, mix on low and add water a little at a time. Mix on medium speed for about 8 minutes or until the dough separates from the sides of the bowl and is soft with a little elasticity. It should be slightly sticky when handling but not too much. That is how it should be when it is ready for the next step. Form into a ball with hands, it doesn't have to be a perfect ball.
Spray same bowl with oil, place the dough in the bowl and spray the top of dough with the oil. Cover with saran wrap and let site for 1 ½ -2 hours or until dough has doubled in size.
Take out of bowl and cut the dough in half . (do the following with each half to create 2 challahs) Take one half, shape it slightly into an elongated piece and divide into 4 pieces. Take each piece and roll it into a long fairly thin roll about 20 inches long. If you need to slightly flour your work area because the dough sticks too much do so, but not too much or your dough won't roll.
Lay the four long rolls out 2 on top of the other two.
You will have 4 sections. Bring one left hand piece from under and place over next section right hand one.
Do this all the way around until you have braided almost the entire challah and bring up the remaining pieces to bind together with your fingers.
Gently pick up the challah and turn it upside down. The challah should look like this now.
This view is after it has risen for half an hour, so it will be less puffy when you finish braiding it. Repeat the same way with the other part of the dough you have put aside
This is the upside down view after you have turned your braided work over.
Cover with a towel and let rest for 30 minutes-1 hour.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place oven shelf on one below the center.
Brush challahs with egg mix, covering all parts well. Place in oven and bake for 25-30 minutes. Challahs are done when they are a golden brown and when you pick them up they are browned underneath.
Take out of oven and immediately cover with a towel until cooled off. This will keep them soft on the outside. Don't try to cut the challah when hot. The best way actually to eat this soft and fluffy challah is by tearing a piece off with your hand.
That's how we do it! The best thing about a challah is that the next day you can male a delicious french toast for breakfast. Recipe for that will follow!
I discovered this little gadget not too long ago and I love it. I use this to cut my pastry but it also has a nice feature added, a little ruler in centimeters and inches. I use it to measure certain things I roll out such as Pita bread.
I had used the traditional Rolling pin with handles for years until I bought this French Rolling pin. For the kind of baking I do, this has become a much easier tool to use and it is much lighter in weight. You can reach thinner ends of certain pastries you are rolling out.