Aunt Lois’s Challah
I don’t think I’ve kneaded anything since my daughter was born, I stuck with no-knead bread, bought my pizza dough and here in Puglia I forgot that one could actually bake their own bread. The bread is so delicious here and so incredibly cheap.
I have to say that after my kneading hiatus, I got a real kick out of it, like touching soft flesh, a giant boob, or chubby baby thighs. It must be the mother instinct kicking in, the ability to knead out frustrations on a piece of dough, while handling something so soft to the touch. I now understand why so many women bake, it satisfies on so many levels.
My father’s sister Lois sent this recipe to me a few years back, when I posted about my first experience baking challah. I got distracted with a baby, but when I decided to make a Rosh Hashanah feast this year, I remembered that she had sent it and went back to it. It is a wonderful recipe and made an enormous amount of dough, though I think yeast packet proportions are different over here, I had some serious dough overflow, I thought it was going to take over my entire house!
I think that the best part of this recipe exchange is that my father’s family isn’t Jewish. They grew up in Teaneck New Jersey, hence the name of the recipe, and Teaneck is like any suburb of New York City, a melting pot of multiculturalism. Sweds learning how to make Jewish recipes handing them down to their nieces who are married to Italians. One crazy mash-up of cultures. The best!
Teaneck Challah – from Aunt Lois
- ½ c. light brown sugar
- ½ c. vegetable oil
- 1 T. salt
- 2 c. hot water
- 2 pkgs. Active dry yeast
- ½ c. lukewarm water
- 1 T. sugar
- 4 eggs
- 8-10 c. sifted flour
Combine brown sugar, oil, salt and water in bowl; stir to blend. Dissolve yeast in lukewarm water with 1T. sugar. Beat 4 eggs. Add eggs, yeast to first mixture. Blend. Gradually work in enough flour to make a soft dough. Turn out on floured board and knead until smooth and elastic; fingers should pull out clean from dough. Wash large mixing bowl (same) with warm water; oil well and place dough in bowl. Cover with a wet towel and let rise. When doubled, removed from bowl, punch down, and divide into 2-3 portions, depending on the size of your pans. Divide each portion into 3 pieces. Roll each piece into a long thin roll and braid. Arrange in a well oiled, metal loaf pan. Let rise until double in bulk. Brush each loaf with beaten egg generously and sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour or until done. Cool on a wire rack (out of pan). (You can thump the bottom of the loaves, and they should sound hollow when done.) I have also made this free-form, in cake pans, and made little rolls out of the dough. Delicious!