20 Sep Rosh Hashana Apple Pecan Cinnamon Round Challah
New Year, new challah recipe.
Here’s my first crack at an apple, pecan, cinnamon round challah for Rosh Hashana.
Let me preface this post with this bit of insight. A baker I am not. This has been noted many times on this blog. It is nothing new.
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to bake challahs in preparation for Rosh Hashana-the Jewish New Year. While I could go on and on about the holiday, why I celebrate it, what it means to me, etc., it’s a personal thing. A few things do need mentioning for context purpose:
- The time between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement are called the Ten Days of Repentance.
- It’s a time for serious introspection, and a time to consider all of the sins you’ve committed from the year before.
- It’s also the time to repent for those sins, ask for forgiveness from those whom you’ve transgressed and to set goals for the new year.
- Finally, it’s a time to pay homage to the traditions of the season-new, old, from the old country, or from our new house–it doesn’t matter….it’s just…tradition.
My cousin by marriage, Jen, invited me to her Mom’s house to bake round challahs one Sunday afternoon in advance of the high holidays. Okay, I invited myself, but that’s the kind of family we are–and what Jen didn’t know was that she was actually going to teach me how to make challah because, in all of my years of cooking, I’ve never been able to perfect a good challah. Not a surprise as, once again, a baker I am not.
Jen is a great baker. And a great teacher–she’s been a veteran of teaching kiddos for nearly twenty years. Jen was as patient as she was encouraging—and unabashedly hands-off as she stood next to me with a watchful eye as I rolled snakes, braided them and added holiday-esque ingredients like nuts, apples, and cinnamon to our newly formed challahs. We made rounded challahs (see above video on how to make rounded challahs by the one and only Tina Wasserman) and straight challahs. We made chocolate chip challahs, plain challahs, and a community challah–one that was inhaled as soon as it came out of the oven.
Why a rounded challah you ask? Chabad.org says that symbolically, our actions with the dough are what we should be doing with our soul: kneading it over and over, round and round, smoothing out all the imperfections and mistakes of the year before.
It’s also important to note that this challah was gobbled up within hours after I brought it home. My husband and son couldn’t get enough of it. Being the critic that I am, I found a few flaws in my bread, but not enough to point out to my customers. Luckily, our dear friend Tara sent over one very similar for us to enjoy this evening as we celebrate Rosh Hashana. Don’t worry, we won’t go without!
Looking forward to this new tradition of making rounded challah each year!Wishing you all a happy, healthy and sweet New Year!
Challah Recipe from Jen and Rabbi Zakon
***As I understand it, this recipe from Jen and Rabbi Zakon was one they made during a women’s trip to Israel a few years ago. I have copied it exactly as I received it as I don’t want to break from tradition***
Makes 5-6 challahs
1 5lb bag of flour
2 cups sugar
3 1/2 T Flesichman’s Yeast, Active Dry, original
4 2/3 cup warm water
1 3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 1/2 teaspoons of salt
Egg whites (to brush on before cooking)
Optional: pecans, apples, cinnamon, sesame or poppy seed
- Mix all ingredients together (except the egg whites and optional items) and knead, beat down once, then rub vegetable oil on it and cover with a warm, moist rag. Allow to rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
- Flour a level surface. Divide dough into 3 equal sized balls and begin rolling into snakes. Add optional ingredients to each snake by pressing ingredients into each snake before braiding. Braid the snakes into a challah.
- Brush egg whites onto uncooked challah and bake on an oven-safe baking pan at 350 degrees for 30-ish minutes. Check it at 25-30 minutes and cook at additional 3-5 minute intervals if needed.