CHALLAH BREAD RECIPE

We have included a bread recipe that is easy for the working woman or homemaker. Please refer to the recipe section for this recipe. Involve the children in the making and remember that this is not "THE RECIPE", but a simple recipe that a friend gave us. You can find challah (Sabbath bread) at many bakeries if you prefer not to bake it yourself. Look for "french white bread", or you could even use frozen bread dough. To begin with remember to keep it simple. I didn't bake my own bread for almost a year, as a teenage girl baked our bread to earn some spending money. Now it is just part of my routine on Thursday night and I must promise my husband not to bake the bread before lunch on Friday, so he doesn't come home at noon to the aroma of fresh bread and know that he can't have any at lunch.

The following is a recipe for making "Challah", the bread that is used on the Sabbath and at most festivals. You would make two loaves before the Sabbath would begin. This is because there is to be no cooking on the Sabbath, so one loaf is for Friday and the second loaf is for Saturday. If you are going to have guests over, then you may need to bake more, or use this for the ceremony. You can also freeze this bread ahead of time, but be sure to wrap several layers's of foil and plastic. It heats up nicely in a microwave for about 20 seconds, and my husband loves the French Toast from it! You need about four hours in the refrigerator or until the bread rises to the top of your large bowl. I usually make my bread on Thursday night just before I go to bed. Then when I come to the kitchen at 3 p.m., it is ready to braid. If I don't need two large loaves of bread then I will sometimes turn the extra dough into a wonderful pizza dough! If I am using the recipe for only pizza it will make three large pizzas that are delicious! I usually top with Monterey Jack cheese, Mozzarella cheese, bell peppers, and Vadalia onions! You will love this sweet pizza taste! Oh, yes! My husband loves it when I make the cinnamon rolls for Saturday morning out of the recipe, too, instead of the second loaf of bread!

2 cups warm water or milk

2 pkgs dry active yeast

6-7 cups bread flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 t. salt

1/4 cup oil

1 egg

Directions for my challah bread:

1. In large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water (careful of the temperature or it won't rise. You can use a thermometer to check the temperature. You want 75-120 degrees.) Stir in sugar and salt. Add 3 cups flour and mix well. Add oil and egg and mix well. Then add remaining flour. (The dough will be a little sticky but don't add more flour.)

2. Wet a clean dish towel and ring it out. Cover the bowl of dough with the towel. Put the bowl in the refrigerator and let stand overnight.

3. When dough is doubled in size braid as follows:

Divide the dough into 3 pieces. Cut 1 piece into thirds; with your hands roll each piece into a 16 inch-long rope or snake. Place ropes side by side and braid as you would hair.

Pinch ends of braid to seal. Place on cookie sheet the bottom loaf. Repeat with another piece for another loaf. Cut remaining dough into 6 pieces; roll each into 17 inch-long ropes. Braid each set of three ropes as shown in figure; pinch ends to seal.

Place each smaller braid on top of a large braid; tuck ends of top braid under bottom braid stretching top braid if necessary.

4. Arrange loaves at least 5 inches apart on oiled or greased cookie sheet; cover and let rise in warm place until doubles in size. (Depending on your house temperature. Find a warm place.)

5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook bread for about 35 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and brush top and sides of loaves with butter. Let cool on wire rack.

Too busy for all that? Then read this Super Jiffy 2 hour method that I discovered: *If you are like I was, you have a problem with finding a nice warm moist place to get the dough to rise. One day I even tried the inside of my dishwasher! (Don't try it, okay?) BUT the best idea that I have found is the microwave! Here's what I do. I make half the recipe at a time, okay, if I use the food processor. The trick is to really dissolve the yeast - so I use my mixer or food processor and beat it until it foams up tall. Then I add the sugar and mix it well until I know that it is dissolved well. The mixture is VERY foamy by this time. Then I add the ingredients until I have a stiff dough (I have bread hooks on my mixer, and use the cutter down in the bottom of the food processor) When I am ready to let it rise, I take a wet towel and put it in the microwave to heat for about two minutes. MAN! It is hot when you take it out! Then I put it across the top of the dough bowl, and set the bowl in the microwave with the door shut for 30-60 minutes...just long enough to rise up to the top of the large bowl. Works great! Then as I begin to braid the bread I turn on my oven to 350 degrees to warm the top of my electric stove (those of you with gas stoves have a pilot light for this purpose). I place my cookie sheets (I love my airbake cookie sheets for this project!) on the top of the electric burners (they are not turned on!), braid my bread, and heat another dry towel in the microwave to go across them while they rise again. My bread is huge and beautiful! Just remember that the secret is having a nice moist place to raise the dough.

Lois' Comments: Stop at the local grocery/bread store on your way home from work and buy some good white bread. Or con a local homeschooler into opening a challah bread business on Fridays.