(Also Known As Turban Challah)
Challah is the most iconic and uniquely Jewish food. It is a rich braided bread served on Shabbat and holidays. Similar to brioche, the bread is slightly sweet and wonderfully soft inside.
Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is a time to reflect on the past year—and look forward to the coming one. Celebrating Rosh Hashanah is all about tradition. The holiday’s festive meal can include favorites like matzo ball soup, gefilte fish, apples dipped in honey, and round Challah.
Why Do We Make Round Challah On Rosh Hashanah?
The round Challahs have no end, symbolizing (and actualizing) the wish for a year in which life and blessings continue without end.
How to Shape a Round Spiral Challah?
Instead of braiding ropes of dough, you roll out one long rope, then spiral it around itself until you reach the end. Make sure to pinch the end of the spiral and tuck it under the loaf.
Can Challah Be Made In Advance?
Absolutely! Challah freezes very well.
If you are going to freeze your bread, do so on the first day when it is fresh. This way you will lock in all that moisture. Do not wait 2-3 days and then freeze it, as your bread would have already lost moisture.
Before freezing, I recommend completely cooling the Challah. Once completely cooled, place your Challah directly in a heavy-duty, thick freezer bag or wrap it tightly with a saran wrap.
To defrost, remove your Challah from the freezer about 5-7 hours before it will be served (leave it wrapped), and let it come to room temperature.
Remove the plastic wrap and lay the defrosted loaf on a baking sheet for those who like warm Challah. Set the oven to 350 degrees F and bake for about 10 minutes.
Can I Double the Recipe?
Yes! If you double the dough, you can make two large loaves or three medium- size loaves.
Looking for More Challah Recipes?
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Round Spiral Challah
- 3 1/2 cups (500 grams) sifted all-purpose flour + a little more for dusting I strongly recommend sifting the flour; it will result in a more delicate dough with a more significant volume.
- 1 tablespoon (10 grams) active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) canola oil (and a little more)
- 3 tablespoons (30 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 1/4-1 1/2 cups (300-350 ml) lukewarm water
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) real maple syrup
- sesame seeds
- In the bowl of a standing mixer, put flour and yeast (or in a large mixing bowl if kneading by hand) and mix/stir for one minute.
- Add oil and sugar and mix for about one minute.
- Slowly add water and mix to form the dough.*Because each flour is different, stored differently, and has different absorption capacities, the amount of liquid will almost always change. Even if you always use the same flour, it may be that on different days, the flour will absorb more liquid than before. So, start with half a cup of water and gradually add enough until the dough is soft but not sticky. Dough that lacks liquid will be stiffer and much less comfortable to work with. The water temperature should be warm.
- Add the salt and knead for 10-15 minutes (It helps the gluten form and the dough to be elastic with better structure).
- Grease the dough with a little bit of oil, cover with a kitchen towel or loosely with saran wrap and let the dough rise until doubled (place the bowl somewhere warm).
- Roll the dough into a long rope. If the dough is sticky add a *little bit* of flour. When making Challah, less is more!
- Spiral it around itself until you reach the end. Tuck the end under the bread.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the Challah on it.
- Place the pan somewhere warm, cover with a towel, and let it rise until puffed, about an hour.
- Heat the oven to 400°F/200°C.
- Whisk the maple syrup with a tablespoon of water when ready to bake and brush it all over the Challah.
- Sprinkle on sesame seeds.
- Slide the Challah on its baking sheet into the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. The Challah is done when it is a rich golden brown and registers 190°F/90°C in the very middle with an instant-read thermometer.
- Let the Challah cool on a cooling rack.