L'shanah tovah! Welcome to the year 5777!
Even if you aren't celebrating Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, I advise you still
listen to the shofar partake in loaves of feathery, eggy, lightly-sweet, want-to-rest-your-face-in-it challah.
But not just any challah. For a celebratory, once-a-year event, make your loaves fancier than they've ever been before (Rosh Hashanah is like the challah red carpet!)
Start with your favorite challah recipe (Jessica Fechtor's Five-Fold is mine: It takes 24 hours but is mostly hands-off! The dough is so airy you can see the bubbles even after it's braided, so soft it feels like a baby's cheek).
Once you're ready to shape...
1) Fill your challah. Rachael Strecher, who has swiftly earned the title of (Not)Recipes' Challah Queen, rolls out part of the dough with a pin, spreads it with fillings (a purée of slow-roasted tomatoes, butter, and walnuts; roasted garlic; pesto, too!), and reshapes it into a log that's then braided. Read more on that technique here.
(Pssst: An apple butter and honey filling might be particularly appropriate for the holiday!)
2) Pretzelize it. After Rachael fills and braids the challah, she makes it into a pretzel by dipping it into a lye solution (why, naturally!). Molly Yeh has experimented with the pretzel-challah hybrid, too.
If you're scared of using lye, we know another ingredient that can do the same trick—and it's already in your pantry!
3) Bejewel it. And by that we mean add seeds: Press seeds into the crust before you bake it (and after you apply an egg or egg white wash). Favorites include poppy, sesame, nigella, pumpkin, sunflower, even flax! Rolled oats work, too. I would not recommend chia seeds.
4) Dutch Crunch it. Always an option! Particularly great if you're looking for a challah with a "San Francisco vibe." Read more about how to give your challah a crunchy, spotty topping below.
5) Repurpose it! If you have leftover challah dough (or if you've had the foresight to double the batch), experiment!
- All Ingredients Equal lets her dough rise overnight, then shapes it into balls, rolls them in cinnamon-sugar, and bakes it in a loaf pan, monkey-bread style.
- Tom Hirschfeld turned his challah dough (made with yolks only and butter instead of oil) into Easter rolls. Talk about religious harmony!
What should you do with leftover challah the next day?
Well what kind of question is that?
This version gets a brown sugar-cinnamon crust post soaking, which makes for an even more caramelized crust:
And we've got lots of other ideas, too!
What's your favorite way to consume challah? That is, after you've eaten half the loaf? Tell us in the comments!