One challah recipe would never suffice in a family with many types of palates and personalities. This pretzel challah recipe is unique, delicious and oh, so reminiscent of hot pretzels that you may just want to serve it with mustard.
Our youngest daughter, Davida, decided to try a new pretzel challah recipe. We were all skeptical, but it turned out to be delicious. This challah has a crusty, salty outside and a deliciously doughy inside. It is best enjoyed hot within 24 hours of baking. Unlike most challah recipes, it is not suitable for freezing.
She found the basic recipe in the Kosher by Design: Teens and 20-Somethings cookbook We made some minor changes and simplifications.
INGREDIENTS FOR EACH KITCHEN AID BOWL
(I use two bowls for a total of five pounds of flour)
1 pkg or 2 tablespoons yeast
2 1/2 cup warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 cup oil
3 tablespoons sugar
2 1/2 pounds (6 cups) of bread or high-gluten flour
8 cups room-temperature water
2/3 cup baking soda
kosher salt or everything mix (see notes)
optional egg wash (a bit of egg mixed with a few drops of warm water)
sesame and poppy seeds (optional)
Mix yeast, warm water and 1 tablespoon sugar in a bowl. Let rise until yeast is bubbly and foamy. (If yeast does not bubble and foam, yeast is not active and must be discarded. Start yeast, water and sugar mixture with new yeast).
Add oil, 3 tablespoons sugar and salt and whisk until combined. Add flour and knead until the dough is smooth and forms a ball.
Add a bit of flour to remove the dough from the bowl. If making it two separate bowls, combine dough for rising. Let rise in a warm area of kitchen for 90 minutes. Once the dough has finished rising, place all of the dough before you.
If a total of five pounds of flour was used, recite the bracha.
ברוך אתה י-י אלקינו מלך העולם אשר קדשנו במצוותיו וציונו להפריש חלה
Ba-Ruch A-tah A-do-noi Elo-hai-nu Me-lech Ha-O-Lam A-sher Ke-di-sha-nu Be-mitz-vo-sav Ve-tzi-va-nu Le-Haf-rish Cha-lah
Blessed are You, our G‑d, King of the Universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to separate challah.
Now, separate a walnut-size piece of challah and an additional personal prayer may be recited.
The separated piece of challah is kept separate from the rest of the dough and is either wrapped in two layers and carefully discarded or is wrapped in foil and baked until burnt.
Brush the baking pans with oil, spray with cooking spray or cover with parchment paper.
Form the challah, using bench flour to keep each strand of dough from getting too sticky:
Braid three or six strands and place in loaf pan
Form into pull-apart challahs by combining multiple balls of challah
Form into rolls by knotting a single strand of dough.
Using a large pot, boil baking soda with 8 cups water. Carefully lower each challah, pull-apart and/or challah roll into the baking soda solution. Using a slotted spoon or 2 wooden spoons, carefully turn each challah so both sides are exposed to the baking soda solution for at least 30 seconds. Then, carefully place the treated challahs and rolls on the baking pan.
Using a silicone brush, brush with the baking soda solution. Sprinkle with your favorite salt or seed topping (see notes).
Bake for 30 minutes. Best served warm or rewarmed. Serve with mustard.
For a shiny surface, brush with egg wash. Let rise for an additional 30 minutes.
Bake at 350 degrees in preheated oven, watching carefully not to overbake.
Rolls take about 15-20 minutes
Medium challahs take about 30 minutes
Large and pull-apart challahs take about 40-45 minutes
Substitute 2 cups of flour in each Kitchen Aid bowl with whole wheat flour
Sprinkle freshly minced garlic or a mixture of your favorite minced herbs on top of egg wash before baking
An everything seed topping would be delicious with this challah. My wonderful aunt (Tante Sari) makes her own using sesame seeds, poppy seeds, garlic flakes, onion flakes and kosher salt. She keeps it in a spice container with large holes on top and sprinkles the topping on her challah before baking.
I use an inside-out brown paper bag for preparing the challah braids. I open a brown paper bag by cutting or ripping it open. I use the inside that has no print and dust it with bench flour before forming the braids or balls for my challahs.
Photo and baking credits to Davida Respler