Moving + Pascha = Busy!!!

So, I haven't updated this for a long time because, well... there's just too much going on! Not to mention, most of my cook-ware has been boxed up and out-of-commission and late-Lenten meals get rather boring and mundane, so nothing new to add.

What I will post, however, is a recipe for challah, a Traditional Jewish egg-loaf used for Passover and other special 'shabbath' meals. I am making it for our Pascha basket; here's hoping it turns out!!!

Challah - according to 'The Joy of Cooking: 75th Anniversary Edition"

Combine in a large bowl:
- 1/2 cup warm water (105 - 115 degrees F) - 1 pkg active dry yeast (= 2 1/4 tsp)
and let stand until years is dissolved, about 5 min. Once dissolved, add:
- 1/2 cup bread flour - 2 large eggs, lightly beaten - 2 large yolks, lightly beaten - 3 tbsp vegetable oil - 3 tbsp sugar - 1 1/4 tsp salt
Mix until thoroughly blended. Gradually stir in:
- 2 1/2 cups bread flour

Knead for approx 8 min until the dough is smooth and elastic and no longer sticks to your hands. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and turn it once to coat with oil. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk (approx 1 - 1 1/2 hrs).

Punch down the dough, knead briefly, and return to the bowl. Refrigerate, covered, until it has nearly doubled in volume (anywhere between 2 - 12 hrs).

Divide dough into 3 pieces. On an unfloured work surface, roll into balls. Let rest, loosely covered, for 10 min.

Grease a baking sheet and sprinkle with cornmeal. Roll each ball into a 13 - 14 inch-long rope, about 1 1/2 inches thick and slightly tapered at the ends. Dust the ropes with flour so they will be more distinctly separated when baked. Place ropes side by side and pinch the top ends. Braid the entire length of dough strands until you reach the other ends. tuck both ends of the braid underneath the loaf and set it on the baking sheet.

Whisk together and set aside:
- 1 egg
- pinch of salt

Pre-heat oven to 375 F. Loosely cover the braid with lightly-oiled plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until not quite doubled in size (approx 45 min.) Brush the loaf with the egg-wash.

Bake until crust is golden brown and the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped, 30 - 35 min. Let cool completely on rack.

* Note, there are many ways to braid the challah. While this recipe only uses 3 strands, it can be done with 6, and arranged as either a straight or round loaf. *

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