**this is a sponsored post**
Recently, FrontGate Media offered me the chance to learn more about challah (usually pronounced HA-lah in English), and also to bake it myself! It was a lovely experience. I want to tell you about what I did, and offer you a free download of a beautiful booklet (including a recipe!) from Emunah Israel so that you can make this beautiful bread yourself!
Who is Emunah Israel?
Emunah Israel is an NGO in the Holy Land and I absolutely love their history and purpose:
“Emunah, one of Israel’s leading social action organizations, was founded over 80 years ago to help give homes to children arriving in Israel after the Holocaust. It has developed over the decades, always dealing with the challenges of contemporary society. Emunah’s activities focus on education, social welfare, and societal change through legislation, aiming to strengthen the Jewish family, advance the status of women, and care for vulnerable children. You can learn more here: https://www.emunahangels.org/ “
They’ve created this fantastic booklet for people to learn how to make delicious challah bread; and it learn about what it has meant for generations of Jewish people. Jewish women have made challah bread for literally thousands of years! Making challah hearkens back to the manna which fed the Hebrews as they wandered for 40 years through the desert (Deuteronomy 8:3).
This lovely booklet (which you can download free here at Challah Bake) has a delicious challah recipe plus braiding instructions for the dough. It explains what challah means in Jewish and Israeli history and tradition, as well as what each one of the ingredients means (did you know that even the mixing bowl has a meaning?). It also shares what Emunah Israel has accomplished over the years in the lives of children, students, families, and women.
And, our Challah experience!
I love making bread and used to make it several times each month. (Somehow Covid got me out of that habit.) But, I had never made challah although it is one of my favorite breads. In fact, I attended day camp at a Jewish Community Center as a first grader. At the end of day camp (there was a sort of festival) I got to try challah for the first time. I was absolutely captivated by it; it was truly the best bread I’d ever tasted. So, this opportunity was one that I was thrilled about; to learn to make the best bread on the face of the earth! And, both my process of challah-making, as well as its end result, were a delight!
Challah is a yeast bread. So, the process includes mixing the ingredients, kneading them, letting the dough rise, punching it down and then letting it rise again. And then, dividing the dough into six logs for braiding!
The braiding was the most difficult part for me to do. (As you’ll see! 😉) The Emunah challah booklet showed step-by-step visual directions. But (as my geometry teacher could have told you) I sometimes struggle with taking a 2D image and replicating it into my 3D world. So my braiding went a bit wonky. (I also think that trying to braid 6 strands rather than the 3 I’m used to braiding might have had a bit to do with it. Still, I think with practice, I can do it someday!)
But, all was not lost! The next step was painting the braided dough with an egg wash, letting the dough rise again, then baking it.
I admit. I did end up with a sort of a challah cornucopia shape. But it was delicious!!
About the process
I really did find that there was a spiritual and relational element that my family and I felt as we made and enjoyed the challah. The process of creating the challah was restful and peaceful (even with that wonky braid) and just a pleasure to complete. Because there are two risings that the dough has to go through, making challah enables the baker to stop and rest between-times. Emunah Israel has included beautiful prayers that the baker (and family) can pray before and during the process. And, the booklet also includes the meaning of each ingredient; what it represents and how it can bless both the baker and her family. (I say “her” because in Jewish tradition, Jewish women throughout the millennia have been the challah bakers.)
I plan to make challah again. (I do need to work on that braiding!) It enriched my soul as well as our bodies. What a joy.
How you can get a copy of Emunah Israel’s challah-baking book
It is free for anyone who’d like to receive it! Simply click on the link below. You’ll fill out your name and email address and Emunah Israel will send you a digital, printable copy.
Emunah Israel’s free Challah Bake booklet
If you do get this booklet and make the challah, please let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear about your experience!
Thank you for reading. Let’s make challah!
Disclosure: This was a sponsored post. Everything I’ve shared here was my own honest opinion.