Just about every Friday, for Shabbat, my colleague Olga Massov makes challah. I know this because each week she takes a photo of the supple dough and posts it to her Instagram stories. Then she documents the braiding, sometimes trying a long twist or a round bun, sometimes sprinkling the unbaked braid with sesame seeds, sometimes gilding it with a simple egg wash. I love and admire the ritual, and I imagine her family appreciates the effort and the scent of freshly baked bread each week.
“Neither rain, nor snow, nor horrible head cold can stop me from my weekly #challah making,” she wrote last February.
I suspect Massov will be making another challah this weekend for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, which begins this Friday at sunset. Whether you observe the holiday or not, consider making a loaf of the soft, buttery, gently sweet bread. It’s nice with a savory meal, and leftovers make a mean French toast or stuffing. Here are a few recipes from our Recipe Finder to inspire you.
Marzipan Almond Challah Crown, above. Flaky and tender as a pastry, and rich, thanks to the candylike marzipan filling, this challah is a sure way to bring sweetness into the new year.
Pain Petri (Anise-Flavored Challah with Sesame Seeds). This Moroccan-style challah twist recipe, which comes together in just about an hour, from start to finish, is from Joan Nathan’s 2010 book “Quiches, Kugels and Couscous.”
Challah for a Crowd. Rolled into small rounds and tucked in tightly together on a sheet tray, this is an easy way to make a lot of challah without worrying about braiding each loaf.
Date, Walnut, Silan and Sesame Challah. Sticky dates and silan (date honey) add sweetness and depth to this challah round, which gets a bit of texture from walnuts and sesame seeds.
Quince Challah Knots. Cute as buttons, individual challah knots are perfect for sharing.
Fig, Olive Oil, Sea Salt and Spelt Challah. Filled with fig jam and plump fresh figs, this challah crown would make a lovely table centerpiece. Olive oil and spelt, a grain with an earthy flavor, offset some of the sweetness of the filling.
Challah French toast. No matter how you braid your challah, those lovely ridges will dress up each slice, which you can then dip into an eggy batter and fry in butter for French toast any morning of the week.
Herbed Challah Stuffing. Ideal for Thanksgiving, this stuffing, which gains flavor from breakfast sausage, apples and onions, could also make a lovely brunch.
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