Follow along as you shape your challahs, and enjoy beautiful, delicious results!
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Let me know how your challahs turn out… I can’t wait!
To keep the challah excitement going, you will receive additional challah tips, techniques and insights that I share throughout the year as well.
A reader named Esther sent in her favorite of Tamar’s challah tips:
I have been baking challahs for more years than I can remember and have tried all sorts of tips light and fluffy.
I have tried:
Punching down the dough in the middle of rising
And many more
The winner is:
Tamar’s recommendation to knead for 10 minutes, then rest the dough, then knead again for 4 more minutes in order to fully activate the yeast.
My challahs and rolls are rising considerably more than they used to and are consequently lighter too. This
also means an increased yield per kilo. Thank you!
Two-tone Flower Challahs
I love making these for Shavous. They are so easy to do, look so nice and even come out sort of flower-y shaped. There’s no specific “minhag” to make challahs like a flower for Shavous; it’s rather just something I enjoy doing in honor of Shavous.
Make a batch of white dough and a batch of whole wheat dough.
Grab some round pans.
For each round pan, make 3 balls of equal sizes white dough and 3 balls of whole wheat dough.
I do something like 70 grams of dough for every ball; if your pan is large you will need more balls of dough. For the center ball I did ‘half and half’!
Space the balls slightly apart so they have room to grow together as well as upwards. Let them rise for 35-40 minutes.
Brush with risen egg and then choose toppings to put on the different sections of the ‘flower’.
I did two sections poppy, two sesame, two oatmeal and the center with sunflower seeds.
Preheat the oven to 350°F / 180°C.
Slide the topped challah into the oven and bake for 30 minutes until browned top and bottom.
Let it cool on a wire rack and freeze until the day of use.
Beautiful, and delicious! The sections will just slide apart when you pull on them, or you can cut slices with a challah knife too.
One of the most frequent questions I receive is about freezing challah dough.
Can I freeze challah dough?
How do I freeze challah dough?
People all over the world freeze their challah dough.
However, I have found that the dough does not bake the same way once it has been frozen as dough, so I prefer not to freeze unbaked challahs.
Here is what I do instead.
1 I bake the whole batch.
2 Then freeze them baked.
Fresh challah, no mess
If my challahs are all baked and lined up in the freezer already, all I have to do on a week when I don’t have time to bake, is to remove the challahs from the freezer a few hours before Shabbos and poof – fresh challah, no mess.
Warming up the (formerly) frozen challah
If you want the defrosted challahs to be warm:
1 Wrap them in foil.
2 Warm up your oven shortly before Shabbos
3 Turn off the oven and then place the wrapped challahs in your warmed up oven shortly before Shabbos begins.
4 Remove them before Kiddush and place them on the table.
If you really want to freeze the unbaked dough
I know lots and lots of my readers enjoy having the smell of the freshly baked loaf in their homes and for this reason they do want to freeze unbaked challahs. And sometimes people only own small freezers and therefore do not have room to store risen and larger challahs – the frozen ones are smaller in size…
If you do choose to freeze the unbaked challahs here’s what I’d do:
1 Make the dough
2 Do the hafrasha
3 Let the dough rise the first time for about an hour or so
4 Punch down and then shape.
Note: No need to let the shaped challahs rise if you are about to freeze them.
Freezing unbaked challahs
1 Line the baking tray with baking paper and place the shaped challahs upon them.
2 Freeze them uncovered.
3 When they are frozen solid, place them in good quality freezer bags and leave them in the freezer.
Prepping frozen dough for baking
The day you want to bake the frozen, shaped challah dough:
1 Take the frozen challah dough out of the bags.
2 Place them on the tray or in the pan you want to bake them in.
3 Let them sit there to defrost and then (hopefully) to rise.
4 When risen, brush with beaten eggs and bake as usual.
Flower Shaped Challah
Here’s a quick flower shape for your round challahs… a nice idea for Rosh Hashana as well as for Shavous.
Line a round pan with baking paper. An 8-10 inch round pan is a good idea and size.
Cut your dough into six – eight equal parts. Roll each one out to be identical round shapes, sort of like small balls.
Place them inside your lined pan in the shape of a flower.
Cover the pan lightly with plastic and allow it to rise until it is double in size, about 45 minutes.
Mix one whole raw egg in a glass and use it to glaze your challah. Add on seeds of choice, or add in a bit of honey to your egg glaze, to remind us that Torah is sweet and that we are asking G-d for a sweet new year. Slide the challah into your preheated 375°F / 195°C oven and bake until it is dark golden brown on both the top and bottom. Remove it from its pan to a wire rack to cool.
Another benefit to this shape is that it can also be used as a ‘pull-apart challah’!
Freeze in a good quality freezer bag until the day of use and enjoy.
Easy and Elegant Round Challah Shaping
One quick idea that I can share with you here is a very simple but beautiful knot:
Make three long strands of dough and then braid them into a simple, regular braid of three. Then, holding this now long braid, knot it into a circle and bring the end up and through the hole of the circle. Leave it to rise. It looks elegant and beautiful when baked and is more unique than the typical plain knot or twirled challah shapes that are usually done.
There are several other round ideas that are also quite nice; they can be viewed in chapter 3 of the book, or see them in action on my challah video (coming soon to this website)!
Many make their challahs sweeter as well, to symbolize our hope and prayer that we be inscribed for a sweet New Year. I like to do that by sprinkling a cinnamon/sugar mix on top of the challahs when they are finished rising and just after I glaze them with egg. So, oftentimes, instead of sprinkling them with seeds, I sprinkle them with the cinnamon/sugar mix.
Slide your shaped and risen challahs into your preheated oven and let them bake until golden brown and firm on both the top and bottoms of the challahs, about 40 minutes for an average sized challah. Enjoy!