And The Shiksa Bakes Another Challah

Challah shaped into a round braid

Last week’s challah (my first attempt at baking it at home) turned out so gorgeous and delicious that I just couldn’t help baking another one this Friday. But this time round, I switched up the recipe and braiding style. I followed the recipe from Melissa Clark, which uses honey and orange juice as sweeteners instead of the commonly used white sugar. And instead of a six-braid straight challah, my daughter and I tried our hand at a four-braid round challah. I highly recommend this video by CookKosher.com that I found after a little googling for a concise tutorial on shaping round challahs. As a testament of how that video made braiding a round challah look super easy, my not quite five-year old daughter saw it twice and was then able to do it herself.

The honey lends a nice touch to the challah (I used manuka, a strong flavoured honey) and you can’t taste any orange at all. And my challah wasn’t raw or anything close to it but I think it could have had benefited from a further ten minutes in the oven – my husband thought the texture was a little off. To my defence, it did sound hollow when I tapped its bottom. But I want to try this recipe again and improve on the baking time because I like the hint of honey in my challah.

My daughter’s enthusiasm in challah-baking for our Friday dinners is still on a high; other than the kneading of the dough (which I did the night before when she was in bed), she was wholly involved in the entire process this afternoon. She shaped the dough into ropes with my assistance, braided the ropes herself (didn’t want any help from me – “I want to do it!!”), pinched the ends together and tucked them under, carefully painted the shaped round of dough with a beaten egg and gave it a sprinkling of sesame seeds before I slid it into the oven to bake.

I always encourage my kids to be involved in the preparation of the food that they eat. And not because I believe in the theory that children will, or will be more likely to, eat what they helped cooked; my kids have proven it wrong time and again. But I like the company they provide when I’m cooking, the extra little hands helping me and most importantly, I don’t feel so much like a line cook serving up plated food to hungry people seated at the table.

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