I was set to make anadama bread. Then I learned today is Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, so I decided to make challah instead. Challah is the braided Sabbath bread of Judaism. I’ve eaten store bought challah before and it makes excellent French toast. I’ve recently learned the symbolism of this bread. There’s nothing better than cool symbolism. Okay, there is-but it’s still pretty cool.
Baked traditionally in a long, puffy braid each section represents the twelve tribes of Israel and the loaf is a symbol of God’s love and bounty. For Rosh Hashanah, the loaf is often baked into a round and is a symbol of the world having no beginning or no end (except when you are an beginner baker like me and you can clearly see where there is a beginning and end on my round).
The three strands used to make the braid symbolize truth, peace, and beauty. YY The braid itself symbolizes the ascent to God, which is very reminiscent of the kundalini in Hinduism and other Eastern religions and spiritual beliefs.
You can also add extra sugar to the dough, symbolizing starting the New Year in a sweet/sweeter way (I didn’t). The sesame seeds, liked I used, or poppy seeds symbolize the falling of manna from heaven.
I used baker’s math for the first time and doubled the recipe in order to have enough to bring into work and still have some at home. I don’t think doubling was enough. It’s almost all gone! I may hide the last loaf to make sure we have enough for French toast on Sunday. :P
I used Peter Reinhart’s formula from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread to make 4 lbs of challah which I made into two small loaves and two rounds.
Challah Baker’s Percentage Formula
- Bread flour–100%
- Instant yeast–0.85%
- Egg yolks–7%
- Water (approximately)–45%