Round sweet Challah

The round loaf with “no beginning and no end” symbolizes continuity of life. This challa is baked for Rosh HaShanah, the first and most important New moon feast at the beginning of the Jewish Calendar. We wish each other “Sjana Tovah” that means “A good year”. The sweetness symbolizes the goodness that we receive from our Heavenly Father. The honey stands for His healing through Yeshua HaMashiach, the Messiah who is able to change our bitterness in tenderness.

By baking a sweet round challah every year since 1999, I developed my own recipe. The structure looks like brioche dough.
Besides of oven, bakingsheet and mixer with dough hooks, I use a preserving pot (glass) with about 4 inches diameter, the outside brushed with sunflower oil and filled with luke warm water. Also a large mixing bowl and another larger bowl for rise are essential.

1000 grams / 8 cups sifted white organic flour, plus extra
200 cl / 2 dl / 1 cup luke warm water
50 grams / 1⅔ ounce fresh yeast or 3 tbsp dried yeast.
4 egg yolks
8 tbsp sunflower oil or olive oil (delicato)
5 tbsp honey
4 tbsp sugar
2 sachets vanilla sugar (8 gr. each) or 2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp salt
2 eggs well beaten for glazing or 2 egg yolks with 1 tsp water beaten for a darker result.
Some extra luke warm water if necessary.

Mix the dried yeast with the flour, or soak the fresh yeast with the luke warm water plus a tsp of sugar. Leave for 10 minutes or untill it begins to bubble and foam. Make a little hole in the flour and pour in the yeast mixture, stir with a little flour. Leave again for 10 minutes.

Gradually add all the ingredients. First knead with dough hooks and than by hands for 20 minutes on a lightly floured surface, to get a good texture.

Pour in some sunflower oil in the largest bowl and turn around the dough ball. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise for 2 hours or longer on a warm place.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead gently. Shape into a ball and devide into 4 equal balls. Let them rest for 10 minutes. Roll the balls in 4 equal strands from about 80 cm / 32 inches long. Weave these strands; to start with the most right one weaving through the other three and repeat this till a long braid is formed.

Cover the baking sheet with baking paper. Place the jar /pot, filled with warm water, in the centre. Drape the braid around the jar  – brushed with oil – and knead the ends together to complete the ring. Cover again with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 375 ͦ F / 190 ͦ C.
Take out the jar! Glaze the challah with the beaten eggs or egg yolks with 1 tsp water.
Place the baking sheet with challah on the 2nd row of the oven and bake during 35-45 minutes till golden brown or a rich deep brown and sounding hollow when tapped on the side. Let it cool down on a wire rack.

The challah itself is “parve”. So can be served at a meat as well as at a dairy meal.
Slices of this challa can be served at tea time with some butter or jelly. Delicious.

“Shana Tovah” and I wish you a sweet and round new year,
Jacoba Spijker-Kort