With Passover coming up, I wanted to attempt another round and another recipe of the delicious challah bread I made a while back. Passover is celebrated in Jewish and Judeo-Christian circles in commemoration of the God-led flight of the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt. While we don’t celebrate it in our household, I have friends that do and they’ve given me great tips on making challah!
During the year, Jewish tradition holds that challah is typically eaten at the weekly sabbath meal, but during the flight from Egypt, unleavened bread was eaten because the Hebrews didn’t have time to let the dough rise. To say they were in a bit of a hurry is an understatement. So the challah loaf at this time is reserved for the after-Passover meal.
I found this article online recently that gave me deeper insight into current Jewish Passover leavening views if you’re interested in reading further. If you’re interested in further reading and recipes on traditional Jewish cooking, Saveur Magazine recommends The Book of Jewish Food: An Odyssey from Samarkand to New York by Claudia Roden. It can be found on Amazon or at your local library.
For this round, I used this simple recipe from my Betty Crocker cookbook. It still required kneading, but I found it to be very straightforward and it all mixed in one bowl. If I really wanted to cut down on dishes, I could have washed the mixing bowl after kneading and used it for the rising… I replaced step three with the first expert tip given under the recipe and continued with step four as normal.
If you’re worried about kneading being a drudgery, you shouldn’t. Kneading can be very therapeutic. After a long, tiring day, the simple rhythm of folding and stretching, sprinkling in more flour here and there, and refolding and stretching was stress-relieving. I found the 10min to have lapsed far sooner than expected and I was much calmer after. You can even watch your favorite show while doing so! America’s Test Kitchen has an entire article here dedicated to kneading, if you’re still unsure of what this is exactly.
The texture of the bread had a light and perfect chew. It did come out a little darker than I was expecting, but this could have been due to my oven rack being too low in the oven. I had it in while we were watching the Final Four basketball game, so I wasn’t as attentive to it as I typically would be. I like the poppy seeds on top, but I might experiment next time with kneading them into the dough with some lemon oil for a change or swap out the sugar for raw honey…
What’s your favorite style of bread? Are you a whole grain health nut? Or does rye and/or pumpernickel tickle your fancy? Does soft, light white bread send you into heavenly bliss? Tell me about it in the comments below!