Monday, September 17, 2012

Holidays: Rosh Hashannah Challah

For me, Rosh Hashannah (the Jewish New Year) is important as a culinary tradition.  Each year, it's a time to make my favorite Jewish recipes (challah and matzoh ball soup!) and to try new ones (this year, spinach quiche).

Even though I make challah year-round, I like to experiment a bit during the holidays.  Typically when I bake challah, I rely on my bread machine for the whole process, resulting in a nondescript, rectangular loaf.  For special occasions, I use the bread machine to make the dough, but then take it out to braid it and bake it in the oven.  But I've almost always used the same basic recipe.

So this year, I was pretty excited when I came across Smitten Kitchen's Apple & Honey Challah recipe.  The recipe is meant to be done by hand... but knowing I wouldn't have time for that this year, I decided to use my bread machine to make the dough.  I was sad that it didn't work: My test made it clear that the ball of dough was too dry and dense and did not rise nearly enough.  Even so, the flavors were really good, so I'm planning to tinker with it later on (more liquid? extra risings?).

Despite this, I wanted to share the link because of the great illustrations for braiding to make a round loaf (click and scroll down for the pictures).  It was so easy to do and came out looking special, which to me is the whole purpose of bothering with braiding.  I did not get pictures of mine before it was devoured, but it was probably the best-looking braid I've ever done, which I attribute to the ease of the technique!

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