Challah has long been a symbolic centerpiece for a Rosh Hashanah spread. It’s at the heart of many Jewish celebrations, including Shabbat and Purim. I wanted to learn more about challah bread—and what makes it different from other braided breads.
What Is Challah Bread?
Challah is a Kosher loaf of braided bread. The simple dough is made with eggs, water, flour, yeast and salt. The bread is typically pale yellow in color because so many eggs are used, and it has a rich flavor, too. (Challah refers to the mitzvah [a blessing or good deed] of separating out a portion of the dough before you begin braiding as a contribution to the Kohen [priest]. This commandment is called the hafrashat challah.)
How to Make Challah Bread
The bread should be prepared depending on the holiday or occasion. For Rosh Hashanah, round loaves are baked, symbolizing continuity, and on Purim, smaller triangular loaves are made to symbolize Haman’s hat. For Shabbat, the standard braided loaves are common. The dough is fairly straightforward, but braiding the dough takes focus.
Here are other secrets for making challah:
- Add raisins to symbolize sweetness and happiness, particularly around joyous holidays.
- Add chocolate chips, cinnamon, orange zest or almonds for a pop of color or flavor.
- Brush your loaves with egg whites and honey before baking for a shiny and golden crust.
- Sprinkle poppy or sesame seeds on top of the bread to symbolize the manna that fell from heaven after the exodus from Egypt.
Psst… Make your French toast with challah for a decadent breakfast!