Monday, March 29, 2010

Baking and Passover

Yesterday began the Festival of Passover.  I know this because I just returned from visiting my daughter and son-in-law, who is Jewish, in Kentucky.  Kelly and Matt are doing their traditional Seder dinner tonight with friends and I decided to do some baking.
I wanted to make Challah.  I know, the Festival of Passover is also known as the "Festival of Unleavened Bread," so you wouldn't have this during Passover, but maybe when it ends it would make a wonderful conclusion.  This recipe was given to me, when I worked at Social Security Administration in the 70s, by the Director of Statistics.  Even back then I baked all the time and brought in treats to my fellow employees.  It's a simple yeast bread, but with spectacular results.  I did it my food processor, but you could easily do it in the KitchenAid, using a dough hook.  (Follow directors for your mixer)


6 cups All-purpose flour
3 T. Sugar
1 T. Salt
4 T. shortening
2T Active Dry Yeast
1 1/2 - 1 3/4 cup warm water (additional for proofing yeast)

In a 1 cup glass measuring cup, measure 1/2 cup warm water (about 105-degrees) and the 2 tablespoons of yeast.  Add 1/2 tsp. sugar (from the 3 T needed) and whisk slightly.  Let proof 5-7 minutes until foamy.  Meanwhile, in the bowl of a food processor, measure 6 cups of flour, the rest of the sugar and salt.  Pulse several times, then, add shortening and pulse again.  When the yeast is ready, add to the bowl and pulse again.  While the food processor is running, add warm water until mixture pulls away from the sides and goes into a "ball".  Turn out onto a board, lightly dusted with flour, and knead several times until smooth.
Place dough into a bowl, sprayed with a vegetable spray, turn over and cover with plastic wrap.  Alternatively, you can put it in a large plastic tub or even a zip-lock gallon-sized bag for the rising step.
Let rise, about 45 minutes.
When the dough has risen, turn out on the board and divide into 4 pieces.

Put one of the quarters aside and roll the three remaining pieces into ropes.  Braid the three pieces, starting in the middle and working out to the ends.  Place this braid on a lightly greased baking sheet.

Take the last piece of dough, that you set aside, and divide it into three pieces.  Braid these smaller ropes just like you did the large braid.  Place on top of the first braid.
Cover and let rise another 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375F-degrees.  When the dough has doubled, spray with Quick Shine or brush with 1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon of water and sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds.
Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes.  Remove to a rack and let cool completely before slicing.

This is a wonderful bread for sandwiches because the crust is crunchy and the inside is soft.  Enjoy!


  1. You wouldn't make a very good Jew, but you're a darn good baker!

  2. Oh well...I can't be good in everything! I'll take being a great MeMeens anyday!!