Challah with a Mission
By Rachel Ornstein Packer
When my son was diagnosed with severe food allergies, (eggs, nuts and citrus), I realized that I, along with so many others, was now faced with a mission…to keep my son safe, and educate others in the process. Food allergies are terrifying and daunting, and for the first few months, I was a deer in the headlights. Slowly, I started to get a handle on things as I researched, experimented, failed and succeeded.
It took a while for a virtual non-baker like me to get the hang of baking without eggs, but I did. One of my first projects was to learn how to bake challah because I wanted my son to continue to enjoy his favorite Friday night ritual, safely. I found that it was easier, safer and tastier to make it myself, rather, than to relentlessly ask questions at the bakery which only yielded non-chalant responses that could result in a potentially life threatening episode.
Often, my guests ask me for this kosher recipe and as part of my mission, I now pass it on to you. Another benefit of this challah (aside from the fact that it is ridiculously simple) is that it is cholesterol free for those family members or guests who are on restricted diets. Enjoy!
Kosher Recipe : Challah with a Mission
Ingredients for this Kosher Recipe
- 1-cup warm water (approx. 105-115 degrees)
- 4 ¼ cups flour (I use 3 cups unbleached flour and 1 ¼ whole-wheat pastry flour
- 2 ½ tsp. rapid rise yeast
- 1/3- cup sugar (I use Florida Crystals because they are less processed)
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 TBSP. canola oil
(These three recipe ingredients work as a binding agent. The “fizzing” that occurs when whisked together provides the “lift” to the finished product). Make sure you add the egg replacer right before the flour-see Notes for Great Challah below).
- 3 TBSP canola oil
- 3 TBSP warm water
- 2 tsp. baking powder
Kosher Recipe Directions
- Pour yeast into warm water along with a pinch of sugar in a large bowl and mix until combined.
- Let the mixture to rest for 5 minutes or so until bubbly and creamy (I usually measure out the flour while waiting for the yeast)
- Add the sugar, salt, and additional 2 TBSP. of canola oil and mix.
- Beat the egg replacer with a whisk (it will fizz) and pour into the yeast mixture.
- Add the flour, a cup at a time until it is difficult to stir the mixture.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead it until it is smooth and elastic (approximately 7-10 minutes). It should be springy.
- Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with a slightly damp cloth or plastic wrap and set in a warm place for 90 minutes. It should double in size.
- Transfer to a lightly floured surface and cut dough into two equal halves.
- Divide each piece into three pieces and roll out into 10-12 inch ropes.
- Pinch the ends together and proceed to braid the dough.
- Place on parchment lined baking sheet and let rise for additional 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Bake for approximately 25-30 minutes depending on your oven.
Notes for Great Challah:
- Add the egg replacer right before adding the flour. The reaction between the ingredients is what will give your challah lift (in lieu of eggs). If you put it in first, you will not have as much of a reaction when you add the flour.
- If you are looking for a healthier option, try using a cup or two (I use 1¼ cup) of Whole Wheat Pastry Flour. It has all the nutrition of its whole-wheat flour counterpart, (4 grams of fiber, and 3 grams of protein per ¼ cup) though because it is ground from the wheat berry, it yields a far more delicate consistency.
- Make sure you preheat your oven.
- Baking powder needs to be relatively fresh. Old baking powder will yield a hard, flat challah.
- If you put the dough in the oven to rise, make sure the oven isn’t hot. Turn it to 200 degrees for 20 seconds and then turn it off, otherwise it will bake the dough prematurely and it won’t rise well.
- You can shape these challahs into rounds or rolls.
- You can also add raisins, chocolate chips. Use your creativity. My kids love it when I brush a little oil to the top of the challah and then sprinkle with a dusting of Florida Crystal sugar before baking.
More Kosher Recipes
- Esther’s Chocolate Almond Biscotti (thejewishhostess.com)
- How to Make Authentic Italian Potato Gnocchi (thejewishhostess.com)