Proof I’m a Jewish Mother

If the daily guilt I impart on my kids wasn’t enough, here is picture proof that I am a Jewish Mother:

Momma's 1st Homemade Challah

Yep, you are looking at a misshapen, but honey browned holiday challah. It may not be pretty, but I’m hoping it tastes better than it looks. I’ll find out tomorrow when I bring it to a friend’s house for a break the fast dinner. This challah was made with lots of love, some sweat, and a little bit of fire.

Burning Challah

OK, the challah didn’t actually catch fire, but the parchment paper did. Imagine my surprise when I glanced at the oven and saw flames, big flames through the oven window. I quickly opened up the oven, and managed to save the challah from the flames, thereby preventing an epic fail for my first challah making endeavour. Who knew making challah could be so dangerous?

I’m a decent cook, but making a braided holiday challah takes crafting skills that I’m not hardwired for, but  that didn’t stop me.  I gave it the old college try, first making the dough and letting it rise,

then braiding it into a circle,

My challah braiding skills are a little lacking

and letting it rise again before popping it into the oven.

House of the Rising Challah

Since this was my first attempt at making a braided challah, I did what any good Jewish Mother would do; I searched YouTube for a video demonstration. I must have watched a dozen of them, but based on how this turned out, I probably should have watched a few more.

Erin didn’t hold back with the critique of my challah braiding skills, as she yelled at the top of her lungs, “That’s not how we did it at preschool!” She’s right. I’m sure that’s not at all how they did it at preschool, but the preschool teachers are challah experts. I am not.

Ugly or not, I am pretty darned proud of my first attempt, (minus almost burning down our house) and considering it will be served at a break the fast dinner, I’m guessing the fasting adults won’t be too picky. And if it gets a resounding thumbs down, there’s a backup Trader Joe’s holiday challah.

I finished the challah in plenty of time before the sun went down for Yom Kippur. As I look out my kitchen window, it looks like I’m just going to make the deadline for this blog.

If you observe Yom Kippur, may you have a meaningful and easy fast.

7 thoughts on “Proof I’m a Jewish Mother

  1. It looks GREAT! I think you did an awesome job, especially for a first attempt. I have Auntie Rae’s old recipe. Let me know if you’d like it, but it looks like you managed quite well with another recipe. And the burnt parchment paper just adds to the character! 🙂

    1. Thanks all! It was a bit dense, but not bad overall. It helps when you’re feeding it to people who have not eaten for 24 hours. Eva, I’d love the recipe. The girls are hankering to “help” out on the next one.

      1. Here you go! Enjoy…

        Challah – Traditional Jewish Celebration Bread
        (From Great-Aunt Rae Lotterman)

        5 cups flour
        .6 oz cake yeast
        1/3 cup sugar (I sometimes use ¼ cup for less sweet bread)
        ½ Tbsp salt
        ¼ cup vegetable oil
        1 large egg plus 1 yolk
        1 cup warm water
        ½ tsp ginger

        Add sugar to warm water. Let yeast dissolve in warm sugar-water. Add other ingredients except 1 tsp of egg-yolk. Let sit 10 minutes to rest before kneading. After kneading, place in oiled bowl and wet top of dough with oil. Cover with dishtowel wetted and wrung-out with hot water. Place in draft-free place (oven turned off) to let rise. Once dough has doubled in size, punch down and let rise again until doubled in size. Divide dough into 4 equal portions. Roll out into long rolls and braid three rolls and tuck ends together. Divide the last portion into 3 equal portions. Roll out into 3 long thinner rolls and make a small braid to place on top of larger braid.

        Brush top of bread with:
        1 tsp yolk
        1 tsp water
        1 tsp oil
        1 tsp sugar

        Sprinkle with poppy seeds or sesame seeds as desired. Bake at 350, 40 minutes.

        This recipe was given to my by my great-aunt when I was in college in Minnesota. The amount of flour is approximate. She said to add it “until it feels right”, which I took to mean until it’s not too sticky and can be worked with. Aunt Rae (Rachel) came from Poland and married my grandfather’s brother, who also came from Poland. My family has loved this recipe for years. Thanks Aunt Rae!

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