Round Challah for Rosh Hashanah
Food traditions leaven the faith of synagogue members, lending richness and ritual to the meaning of Judaism. While the loaf is intricately braided throughout the year, for Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) the challah loaf is formed into a round, representing the full circle of life.
The spiraling loaf serves as a visual reminder to rise higher spiritually. When baking, use a scale to weigh flour. For recipes that measure flour in cups, spoon it lightly. Never pack, shake, or use the measuring cup as a scoop. Liquid should be warm, not hot – just slightly warmer than your finger.
Enjoy this baked expression of hope for a sweet year by dipping chunks of challah along with slices of apple into bowls filled with honey. Halve the recipe to make one loaf, enough to serve your family at dinner and enough left over to make Challah French Toast Casserole.
- 4 Cups warm (not hot) water
- 3 Tablespoons Active Dry Yeast
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- 8 eggs (farmer’s market, free range eggs are best)
- 2 Cups sugar
- 1 1/2 Cups canola oil
- 2 Tablespoons Kosher salt
- 1 (5 pound) sack, plus 2 cups, of Gold Medal Better for Bread Flour
- 4 egg yolks
- Set the oven to warm using the lowest setting possible (between 100 and 200 Degrees F). As soon as it reaches the set temperature, turn the oven off, and keep the door shut.
- Place the water, yeast, and 1 tablespoon of sugar into a medium mixing bowl. Stir well and set aside for approximately 10 minutes. The yeast will proof – bubble up and rise.
- In a second large bowl, use a hand mixer and beat the eggs with the 2 cups sugar until the eggs become light yellow, thick, and fluffy.
- Mix in the canola oil and kosher salt and pour the yeast mixture into the eggs and stir well.
- Measure the flour into a very (and we are talking huge unless you are halving the recipe) large bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour.
- Pour the egg yeast mixture into the well. If you are concerned about bowl size and all that liquid, pour and stir in 1/3 at a time.
- Mix using a large fork until incorporated. You may need to turn the dough in order to make sure the flour on the bottom gets mixed in. The dough will be slightly sticky but will hold together to form a ball.
- Remove the ball to a large piece of foil. Rub a little oil over the sides and bottom of the large bowl. Return the ball to the bowl, rub a smidge of oil on top of the ball. The oil will prevent the dough from cracking and sticking to the bowl as it rises.
- Cover the bowl with the large piece of foil and place into the pre-warmed oven. (make sure the oven is off!)
- After 2 hours, lightly punch down the dough. Do not remove from the bowl. Recover with foil and put back into oven for another hour then remove dough from oven and lightly punch down again.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter top or clean preparation area.
- Divide the dough into 2 balls (or keep in one ball for one loaf when the recipe is halved).
- Working with one ball at a time, press out the air by hand and shape it into a rectangle. Roll the dough out to a 1/2 inch thick - approximately 24 x 6 inch. Roll the dough tightly along the long end of the rectangle to form a 24 inch circular tube shape. Press and roll out both ends only to make them thinner.
- Starting from one end, gently wrap the tube onto itself until the spiral is formed. Do not stretch the dough while wrapping. Repeat with the other ball of dough.
- Place both loaves on a parchment lined cookie sheet.
- Whisk 4 teaspoons of water into the 4 egg yolks to make an egg wash. Brush over the 2 loaves of bread.
- Let the loaves rest, uncovered and out of drafts for 45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 Degrees.
- Pop loaves into the preheated oven and bake for 1 hour. The loaves are quite large and unless your oven is oversized, two will not fit inside one oven. Enlist a friend for baking. The top tends to darken quickly. If it does, cover it with a small piece of foil.
The above recipe is used with the gracious permission of Carol Osterman.