Challah (barhesz) is an iconic food of the Jewish cuisine. The term challah is applied to any bread that is used in Jewish rituals, it doesn’t have anything to do with a bread’s appearance. For Shabbat or any other special occasion challach is braided like the Hungarian kalács, but for Rosh Hashanah, challah loaves are made in a circular or spiral shape with honey and raisins for a sweet new year.
Round challah has various symbolic meanings. Baking challah brings blessings upon the home; its shape may symbolize eternal life, continuity or the cycle of seasons; raisins and honey express abundance; its sweet taste represents hope for a sweet new year ahead.
I used the recipe of Eszter Bodrogi (she writes about the Jewish-Hungarian cuisine), I just halved the quantities. I took photos of the steps of braiding, but I also embedded a video made by Eszter, which will help you braid the ropes into a round challah properly.
- 500 g (~4 cups) flour
- 25 g (~3/4 oz) fresh yeast (2 tsp dry yeast)
- 180 ml (~3/4 cup) lukewarm water
- 1 whole egg + 1 egg yolk
- pinch of salt
- 50 g (~4 tbsp) sugar
- 25 g (~1 tbsp) honey
- 50 g (~1/3 cup) raisins
- 25 ml (~1 2/3 tbsp) oil
- 1 egg for brushing the top
Soak raisins in lukewarm water.
Dissolve yeast and 2 tablespoons of sugar in 180 ml / 3/4 cup of lukewarm water. In a small bowl whisk 1 whole egg, an egg yolk, honey and oil together.
Sift the flour in a bowl, stir in salt and 2 tablespoons of sugar. Add the egg-honey mixture, activated yeast and drained raisins to the flour, and knead until smooth. Cover the dough and in a lukewarm place let it rise until it doubles in size (45-50 minutes).
On a floured surface cut the dough into 8 equal pieces, form balls, cover and let them rest for 5 minutes.
Roll eight 40 cm / 15-16 inch long strands, cover and let them rest for 15 minutes. After that braid them into a round challah as you can see in the pictures and in the video below:
Transfer the challah onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and brush with beaten egg. Let it rest while the oven is being preheated to 180°C / 356°F.
Bake the challah for 20 minutes at 180°C / 356°F, then reduce the heat to 160°C / 320°F and continue to bake for further 30 minutes. Let it cool on a wire rack.