C rolls out strands of raw challah dough for braiding
Credit: Amanda Alberts

Challah Back Kid

C has been sick for a couple of days, and though he’s feeling much better now — thankfully — we’re still stuck in our house, sitting here writing this blog together. On a stay home day (or days) like this, it can be hard to find ways to entertain, but C knew just the thing. He suggested we make challah because we’d never made it before, and I thought it was a great idea.

Awhile back, I posted on Facebook asking for suggestions for the best challah recipes. I received a lot of responses, and after sifting through delicious challah after delicious challah, I chose a recipe from The New York Times because a Facebook friend said it was her go-to challah recipe.  I also chose it because I already had most of the ingredients in my house, which is always a plus when baking with eager kids. I just needed to buy some yeast, so I convinced my mom to come over and stay with C while I quickly ran to the store.

As I said, I have never made challah before, so I didn’t know what to expect. I also didn’t really read the recipe before deciding on a multi-hour baking plan with my 4.5-year-old. Challah takes a lot of time to make. It is a process. After you get all the ingredients and mix them together, you need to knead the dough and let it rise for an hour, then let it rise again for 30 minutes.

I am very impressed by those who make challah every week for Shabbat. It is truly a labor of love.

As always, C helped me measure and put the ingredients in the bowl. Then, together, we waited impatiently for the dough to rise.

After our dough had risen, I looked at my directions. It was time to braid the dough. I figured it would be like braiding hair, but it was definitely not as simple. I had to read and re-read the directions to make sure I’d get it right.

C started out by helping me roll the dough into strands, but he soon left me to it. He got frustrated with the rolling and told me, “Mom, how about you do this part. I will do the eating.” When I got to the braiding, I asked him if he wanted to help, and he replied, “no Mom, just with the eating.”

I did the braiding slowly, following the directions with each turn. Then I put on the egg wash. The recipe I used made two challahs, so I had extra time to practice. The second time around went a little faster, but I still needed to follow the braiding directions. Every point during the process, I was convinced the challah would be a disaster. Before I even put the dough in the oven, it looked funny. When I was fumbling through the braiding, I thought hopefully it at least tastes good.  I was pleasantly surprised to see the beautiful (and delicious results).

C helped, as promise, with the eating. He’d also let anyone who asked know the challah tasted especially great with Boursin, his favorite cheese.

I highly recommend going through this process, and tasting the delicious fruits of your labors.  Thanks to Facebook friend Ellen Pieper for the suggestion and to the power of crowd sourcing. We thought this recipe was fantastic.

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