Barbara Kline's World Class Challah

BARBARA'S CHALLAH
Sponge:   
1/2  tumbler size glass hot water
1 tbls. yeast (or 1 envelope) regular not rapid rise
2 tbls. sugar
(stir together and let it do its thing while you combine . . . )
8 cups unsifted, UNbleached flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsps. salt
Make a well in the center of the flour and pour sponge
(frothy head, liquid, and all) into it.  Cover sponge with some
of the flour mixture.  Add to this . . .
4 beaten eggs
4 tblsp. vegetable oil (canola, sunflower, etc.)
Combine well with wooden spatula or spoon.  Begin to
knead by hand, adding water until all flour can be absorbed.  Add
water a little at a time.  The weather (dampness) determines
whether you need a little or a lot.  Remove from bowl and
continue kneading on a formica or stainless steel counter until
the dough is smooth and springy (like a baby's bottom).
Scrape the bowl clean.   Pour a little oil into the
bowl and return kneeded dough to it, lightly coating all the
dough with the oil.
Cover with wax paper and let sit for at least four (4)
hours.
. . . . . .
When dough has risen double its original size, remove
from bowl and punch down to get the air out.  Kneed a little
more.   Divide into three equal amounts for three challahs.

Braiding the challah:

Divide the dough into four equal amounts.  Set one lump
aside and roll out three ropes with the remaining three lumps of
dough.
Braid these three ropes beginning in the middle,
stretching the dough as you get to each end.  This will give your
challah a lovely shape.
Repeat this process with the fourth lump that you had
set aside, dividing that piece into three parts, rolling them
into ropes, and braiding from the center out.
Secure ends, and let rest for approximately 20 minutes
on a greased cookie sheet.  Preheat oven at 350 degrees.

After this second rise, paint the challahs with beaten
egg and sprinkle with poppy seeds or sesame seeds if desired.

Bake for 1/2 hour.  Remove from cookie sheet and
continue baking for another 10 minutes, or until challah sounds
hollow when tapped on the bottom.

Remove from oven and let cool on baking rack.

Shabbat Shalom! Eat and enjoy!!!


Instructions for Making Challah with Young Children


You will be making 40 cups of flour for 15 children.

You will need five sets of:  large mixing bowls
cereal size bowls for mixing eggs
measuring spoons & cups
large spoons (to fill cups w/flour)
large paint brushes

Divide children into 5 teams of 3 each.  There should be one
older child in each group.

Pour hot water into glasses and give one to each group. 

Assign one young child to be in charge of making and observing
sponge.

Another young child can measure the flour with older child
supervising.  Use handle of large spoon to level off cup of
flour.  Young child can also measure sugar.

Older child should measure salt and oil.

Young child can break eggs, older child beating eggs with fork.

If a child is truly uncoordinated, let the child create own
shape.  However, with a little help, anyone can do a three strand
braid.  I have done this alone with about six children.

Good luck.  Seeing the look of pride on their faces when they see
how large their challahs have risen in the oven is worth all of
it. 

By the way, the older children can wash the dishes and younger
dry. I have found (through desperation) that a hyper child makes
an excellent dish washer.  The warm, soapy water seems to calm
them down (water therapy!).  They should complete the clean up.
Better give them 45 minutes for entire braiding and cleaning
kitchen.  Put challahs in oven as they leave.  You can bake three
at a time one one sheet.


2 comments:

msawk said...

Rabbi, can you describe braiding "from the middle out"? I have enough trouble braiding from one end to the other (always comes out a little crooked/off center), but maybe this method would be easier for me!

Rabbi David L. Kline said...

Here's Barbara's reply:

Hope this is helpful. I would lay out the three ropes of dough side-
by-side and start braiding down with the middle rope, pulling the
dough as I went to that the end was tapered. Then, I'd turn the whole
thing around the other way so that the unbraided ends were again
facing me and finish braiding down, again tapering the dough as I went.

My husband figured out how to do a four-braid, which is prettier than
a three. I had to do him one better and now do a six-braid. It's very
hard to explain, Perhaps some day when we have the t ime, he can
photograph each of the "moves" and put that on his site. I admit
that if I think too much about what I'm doing, I get messed up to
this day. You can also divide the dough into four equal parts,
forming equal length ropes out of three of them and braiding as
explained above, then doing the same with the fourth lump of dough
and placing that small braid on top of the large one. Press the ends
of the top braid firmly into the bottom braid and you end up with the
illusion of a six-braid challah. Good luck!

By the way, we now also put a pie pan with water in it on the bottom
of the stove when baking the challah. My kids tell me the challah has
the consistency and delicacy of a brioche. Try it and see if that
works for you. Good luck and enjoy!