We’re Just a Couple of Challah-back Girls!

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I love cooking and baking and take just about any opportunity to try something new or make something. If I’m cooking, I’m a happy camper. So when my roommate Rachel wanted to buy Challah for Shabbat with a friend, I jumped right in and asked if I could make it.

I had this recipe floating around that belonged to my grandmother Ruth on my dad’s side of the family. Grandma Ruth was a tiny bird of a woman who ruled with the proverbial iron hand in velvet glove. My grandfather Cecil Gleason towered over her at 6’8 and she was a tiny just under five feet woman. He was Irish, she was Jewish/English (or maybe Welsh) I believe. I wasn’t as close to them as I was to my Mexican grandparents but they loved me and they were sure interesting as hell. Grandma Ruth’s father Cornelius Losey was from Holland. I’m not sure when they came over or how the Judaism got left behind but that’s all I have from my dad. If any long lost family members see this and want to fill me in, I’d be grateful. I think my Grandma Ruth gave me this recipe years ago when I was still married and came over for a vist in a little envelope with a few other recipes. I’ve never tried any of them, although I really want to try her oxtail soup recipe.

I dug around for the recipe and there it was on a faded index card and found not too much to go on, no measurements. See I get that from both grandmothers!

The recipe was written as follows: flour, honey, yeast, eggs, oil, salt and water. Braid into six strands and bake. Garnish with poppy or sesame seeds.

Well that told me a whole lot. I surfed the net to find a challah recipe that jibed with my Grandmother’s card. I was able to find several which made it more confusing and a video on braiding a six-strand challah, which I found very useful even though I still managed to get tangled up. I decided to wing it and using several recipes as a guide, this is what I came up with.

1 package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
2/3 c. honey
5-6 c. sifted flour
2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
2 tbsp. oil
1 egg yolk
sesame seeds

Dissolve yeast in warm water and add honey. Add dry ingredients to a bowl and sift together.
Make a well into the middle of the dry ingredients and add the eggs and yeast mixture into it. Mix well and then turn onto a floured surface and knead for about 10-15 minutes until the dough is smooth.

Coat all sides the dough with oil (I used a pastry brush) and pop it into a greased bowl. Cover and let rise until doubled. It took roughly about an hour and a half.

Punch down and let rise again until doubled again.

Divide the dough into six equal sized balls and braid. I highly recommend checking out Maya Sophia’s very useful video here.

The Challah turned out to be delicious and Rachel was happy with it. I am definitely going to make it again! I placed it on Rachel’s pretty Challah plate and left her to her Shabbat.

For more Challah recipes, check these informative sites.




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7 thoughts on “We’re Just a Couple of Challah-back Girls!

  1. This looks great! Challah was the first bread I made, not for any religious reasons, but it seemed the easiest to manage of all the recipes I had plus, I was good at braiding my hair! Why not braiding bread? My upstairs neighbor in the apt building I lived in, a nice Jewish man named Jon, was amused that a Chinese woman would choose to make challah her first homemade bread, but after taking a bite, he announced that I had passed the test! Thanks for the memories Dona Lupe’s Kitchen!

  2. Wow, what a beautiful Challah and what a wonderful way to honor your Grandma Ruth! 🙂 I love preparing recipes that have been handed down, there is something innately powerful about doing what your ancestors did.

    Welcome to The Foodie Blogroll!

  3. Gina, it’s touching that you would honor your gandmother the way that you have. I also attribute my love of cooking, baking and experimantation to my Mother and grandmother. Both have gone from this world, but never from my heart. I still speak to them everyday, especially when I’m cooking. Your website is wonderful. Familia es todo. (My mother’s maiden name was Ruiz) Come visit my site any time you have a mind to. We’ll have a platica over a cup of cafe.

  4. Your post Ever since I moved to the South I haven’t been able to find decent challah anywhere! Your post makes me want to trash my low carb diet and make my own. I Thanks for the great post.

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