#7 of 40 Days of Baking: Challah

#7 of 40 Days of Baking: Challah

The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you enter the land to which I am taking you and you eat the food of the land, present a portion as an offering to the Lord. Present a loaf from the first of your ground meal and present it as an offering from the threshing floor. Throughout the generations to come you are to give this offering to the Lord from the first of your ground meal.

- Numbers 15: 17–21


Today's bake is a beautiful loaf of challah bread. The braided dough represents unity, like arms linked in strength. I love this symbolism, especially because it represents me: braided together with love that comes from family members of different backgrounds, personalities, lifestyles, and faiths 💝


My sister introduced me to challah many years ago, so it's only right that she share the beauty and wonder of this bake. I asked her to write something about it for my website a few years ago and then never got around to posting the recipe. Today — as I sit with a cup of tea and two slices of fresh challah, warm from the oven and topped with butter and jam — I'm finally getting it done so you can enjoy her guest post below...


Guest Post by Aimee Lerman


For as many Jewish rituals and customs that take place in a synagogue, there are probably just as many that take place in the home. One of those is baking challah each week to mark the beginning of Shabbat, the Jewish sabbath, which lasts from Friday at sundown to Saturday at sundown. According to Modernist Bread, challah can be any bread that has been blessed, but for most of us, it calls to mind the shiny, braided loaf of a slightly-sweet egg bread. In addition to being delicious, making challah is an easy way to bring the family together over a delicious dinner and welcome the weekend.
I started making challah 15 or so years ago. My family was becoming more active in the synagogue and my daughters were attending Jewish preschool and elementary school. Homemade challah felt like a nice way to reinforce what they were learning in school within our home. The Friday night home ritual includes lighting candles, blessings over wine (or juice) and the challah, blessings for the children, and some beautiful melodies. Even if your Friday night dinner is pizza and a DVD or your favorite take-out, taking a few minutes to sanctify the start of the weekend is a great way to take a deep breath and set aside the stress of the week.
A bread machine makes it very easy – a three-hour process has maybe 15 minutes of hands-on time. You’ll see round challot (plural) with raisins for the Jewish New Year in September and preschoolers often bring home oddly shaped (but adorable) bread lumps chock full of chocolate chips on Fridays. I’ve been known to add diced apples and cinnamon and sprinkle coarse sugar on top instead of salt. There are lots of varieties to the base recipe itself but the one shown below has been my tried-and-true for nearly two decades. On the off chance that any of your homemade bread survives Friday night dinner, it makes fantastic French toast on Saturday morning!
Blessing over the challah
Baruch ata, Adonai eloheinu, melech ha’olam, ha’motzi lechem min ha’aretz.
Blessed are you, Lord our God, ruler of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth. 



This photo of my sister was taken during a challah-making maration.


I'd decided it was a good idea to gift a loaf of challah, a jar a homemade strawberry jam, and a sample of clotted cream to every member on Coach's football staff — THIRTY-SIX in all 😳


With three bread machines and two ovens, we got it done, and our football friends and family raved about Aimee's challah and Maci Maree's strawberry jam for a very, very long time.


I only made one loaf this time for my 40 days of baking and blogging, and I'm already wishing I'd made at least for today, and one for tomorrow!


With love and hugs, 


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