the scan artist

Paul Morganthall

round challah for Rosh Hashanah

We went to our best friend’s house for Rosh Hashanah dinner. I was honored to bake the challahs for the celebration. But. I’ve never made round challah before. Round is traditional for the New Year. I found a lot of different descriptions of this tradition. Most said the shape represents God’s crown, or the cycle of the seasons. The most interesting writeup said the round challah for Rosh Hashanah may be the most common of all Jewish practices, since the tradition is rooted in the practices of the original twelve tribes.

The day before the celebration, I learned a lot by making a trial loaf. A big round challah takes a lot longer to bake. The weaving method described many places on the net sounds hard, but is actually easier than the typical 3-strand braid. I practiced with Play-Doh.

The host requested I make one challah with raisins and one without. I made one large woven challah with golden raisins, and one braided round with flax seed meal. For both loaves I used Maggie Glezer’s challah recipe found at Fine Cooking. I use that recipe whenever I need a fool-proof loaf – except I can’t stop myself from experimenting. This time, I used 9 oz. unbleached white flour, 4 oz. bread flour, and 4 oz. white whole wheat (all King Arthur). The article also describes a beautiful 6-strand braid I’ve made many times. Watch this helpful video a couple of times before you start.

Both round loaves turned out quite well. In the future I’ll make two smaller woven loaves instead of the giant one (from 17 oz of flour). The big one looked impressive, but it was just too hard to bake. I baked the loaf for almost an hour. Even then, the inside was a little underdone, and the outside a little overdone. No one complained.

This week’s Thing is the baking of round challahs, something I’ve never tried before.

This article was featured in the weekly roundup at YeastSpotting, one of my favorite blogs.