Homemade Challah (Image Credit: Dr. Barry Lynn)
While not everyone gave voice to their thoughts about the weather last Shabbat, I can imagine that most enjoyed the perfect weather regardless. Temperatures were in the 20s (Celsius) in many areas, and there was a light wind to cool off those who spent too much time in the sun. The cool weather will continue until Tuesday, when low pressure should develop to our southwest over the Sinai desert. This low pressure area will bring warmer, if not hot, temperatures for the "holiday" of Yom Kippur. Unfortunately, humidities will be above 50%, making it feel hotter than usual. There will also be a small chance for some tropical showers. Cooler, but not cool weather should wind its way our way for Shabbat and the start of the Sukkot holiday. Speaking of the holiday, I believe that my past studies qualify me to offer a modified challah recipe that's gone over well with the family. I am speaking about my courses in both inorganic and organic chemistry. In my classes, I was very good at adding NaCl (salt) to various other chemicals like NaHCO3 (baking soda), as well as mixing up C6H12O6 (one of the simple sugars in wheat) and C18H36O2 (stearic acid, one of the ingredients in canola oil).
The point is I have a "license" to modify recipes so I decided to do just that as the kids were not so happy with the recipe I found online. So, here is the modified recipe.
1 cup room temperature water
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tb honey
1/4 cup vegetable oil (like Canola)
2 1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs (room temperature is best)
2 cups white flour; 1 cup whole wheat flour, and 1 cup Spelt flour
1 Tb instant yeast
1/4 cup gluten
If you're making this in a bread machine, then just add in the order listed and use the dough setting. If you want to do it yourself, add the yeast to the water/sugar mixture and let it sit for a few minutes before adding one cup of the flour and mixing well — then continue from there. It's also best to knead this twice, with a small break in between to let the dough rise a bit (to half its size, perhaps). If you want to add 3/4 cup of raisins, add them before the second kneading. Before cooking, mix one egg, 1 Tb water, and 1 Tb honey; brush over the challah (or challot). One good thing to know: it's much easier to braid challah if you lengthen the previously rounded dough and then cut it into three strips lengthwise as well. In other words, don't cut across the dough, cut parallel to it (or yourself). For two challot, cut this in half (across) before cutting lengthwise (or 2/3 and 1/3 sizes depending on what size loaf you want). For the holiday, you can roll each strip into a circle instead of braiding. Bake at 180 C for 32 minutes, turning the oven on when you set the timer. In the picture of our challah loaves, you can see I made an extra roll in order to have two challot left over for Shabbat morning. Enjoy and Happy Holidays.
Image credit: The Jerusalem Herald
Dr. Lynn is a lecturer at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Earth Sciences Department. He is also CEO of Weather It Is, LTD, a company that specializes in reducing weather risk.