Today is Friday, so of course it’s time to bake challah. I have been baking challah for my family (husband and 3 sons) for about the last 8 years. Not only do they love the challah, but they love to come home from school with the smell of the challah baking in the oven.
Over the years, I have figured out how to bake the challah during a day filled with work, appointments, the gym, etc. For a couple of years I was swearing by my bread machine to mix the dough (it takes about 10 minutes-MAX-to throw all of the ingredients in the machine) and then I’d come home 3-5 hours later to shape, proof and bake it. That does work well, but I’m onto a new method now. First of all, I swear by the King Arthur flour recipe, which is on my website. I mix the sponge ingredients as soon as I wake up (7 a.m) and let it sit while I have my oatmeal (another obsession of mine) and watch my kids get themselves ready for school. About 45 minutes later, once the sponge is bubbling, I throw everything into the food processor. It will knead the dough 90% of the way, but then I like to knead it a bit by hand–I like the feel of the dough and it also confirms that I made it versus modern technology.
The rest is by the book; let it sit and rise, punch down rise again, etc. This is really so easy!! Earlier this year when my company, Challah Connection stopped local deliveries of challah (that’s how the company got started–delivering challah into peoples mailboxes every Friday), I was touched and surpised by how much people were upset about the end of the service. They became truly reliant on the service and said that it was the 1 reliable symbol of Shabbat that they could bring their families. I apologized for stopping the service (not particularly profitable) and then told them where to find the challah recipe on the website. Most were taken aback that they could bake–but it really is SOOO easy. So, happy baking today!! Jane Moritz