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As the sun sets tomorrow night, Jews around the world will gather and dip specially-shaped challah into honey to celebrate Rosh Hashanah and symbolize the hope for a sweet New Year. Some communities bake challah in the shape of a bird for protection, a ladder for spiritual ascension, or a hand-shaped hamsa symbol for good luck. The most recognized shape is a circular challah, representing the continuous cycle of life. In her latest video for Tablet Magazine, Joan Nathan shares her favorite challah recipe and shows us how to braid it into an applause-worthy centerpiece for your Rosh Hashanah table.
More: On the off chance that you have leftover challah in the morning, don't forget the French toast.
First you weave a six-stranded braid. It might look complicated, but don't be intimidated. Before you know it, you'll be chanting alongside Joan, "outside over two, next to last to the outside, outside over two, next to last to the outside," and creating your own intricate work of art. Then you twist the dough into a circle, decorate it with seeds, and pop it in the oven.
Not perfect? No problem. According to Joan, "who cares?"
With this round challah, you'll be sure to ring in a joyous New Year. L'shanah tovah u'metukah -- A sweet and happy New Year to all!
Makes 2 loaves
1 3/4 cups water
1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon salt
8 cups all-purpose flour
Poppy or sesame seeds for sprinkling
Photo by James Ransom. Video by Tablet Magazine.