Unlike yesterday, today we made challah at home. I find
that I am generally unsuccessful when making round challahs. I know
what to do, but it doesn't seem to translate into normal looking round challahs.
I usually roll out the dough into a long snake-like shape. Then I just roll it up in a
spiral and put it on the baking sheet, and yet, every time, without fail, the
challahs come out of the oven in a round blob shape, with no definition at all.
So today I tried something different. It's a little hard to see because
unfortunately, my counter top is the same color as the dough, but look
carefully and you shall see.
Instead of rolling each piece of dough into one long thin line, I rolled three
pieces of dough into long thin lines, about 18" long each.
Then I braided the pieces together, which had the whole thing looking something
like the old kind of havdallah candle.
And then I rolled the dough up into a spiral.
And it worked out so well. The braids kept their shape in the oven and I
was rewarded with a bunch of round challas that don't look like I just threw the
dough onto a tray and hoped for the best. A new round challah idea for a new
This is the recipe I used, straight from my cousin Chani in Israel. I've
shared it before, but it's really good and worth sharing again.
2 packets of yeast
2 cups warm water*
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil
1 tbsp salt
7 cups flour
This recipe, unlike many challah recipes is so easy that a small child can
make it because all you do is dump** it all into the bowl of a mixer, turn it on
for 5-7 minutes and walk away. Or watch the mixer go round and round like my
kids do. Hey, it's an activity. Either way, after those 5-7 minutes, you're
done. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and set a timer for two hours, because
surprise surprise, all you have to do is come back when the timer dings. No
punching down the dough, no checking, nothing. Just braid, use an egg wash and
bake at 350 for 25 minutes (depending on the size of the challahs) and eat.
I tripled the recipe and was able to make 9 large round challahs plus two more
challahs, jelly roll style, filled with brown sugar, chopped apples and
chopped dates, special for Rosh Hashana. But more about that tomorrow.
*Maybe 2.5 cups, depending on the humidity outside. More humid, less
water. That's a life lesson in baking.
** That's right, you don't even need to proof the yeast. I'm telling
you, it's like magic.
Thanks for reading! And if you liked what you saw, please leave a comment!
Today I had the super-fun opportunity to bake challah for Rosh Hashana with
my daughter's nursery class. The kids are adorable, the teachers wonderful and
we all had fun getting covered in flour. Some kids say soil instead of
oil. Some kids like the taste of straight up flour. And some kids were
practically licking the table when some sugar escaped the measuring cup.
They all washed their hands before helping and they all kneaded the dough -
except for one little boy who told me, in a totally horrified voice, that he
wasn't going to stick his hands into the dough to knead it. My mommy uses a
machine for that. This way is messy. Truth is, at home, I use a machine too
and it was very messy to do it this way, but it's been years since I have
actually kneaded dough by hand and been up to my elbows in flour, and I miss it.
It was awesome and very Fiddler-on-the-Roofish. Kneaded dough on a table with a
pile of flour is very mother earth, very Birkenstocks and tiered flowered
skirts. All things I love.
With the dough finished, the baby and I left for home so she could nap. And then
three hours later, after the dough has risen, we headed back to nursery to shape
the challahs. Each nursery kid got a big piece of dough and we taught them to
make round challahs, the shape used especially for Rosh Hashana.
Why round challahs? There are several reasons. One is that the round
challah sort of look like a crown, a crown that Hashem wears as the ultimate
Another reason for the round challahs is to illustrate the cyclical nature
of the year. Each year or shana, in Hebrew, draws to a close and
another begins with Rosh Hashana, literally meaning, the head of the year. But,
and I remember learning this in high school (thanks Rabbi L.!) the word
shana also means to change, as in the Hebrew word mishaneh. As
in, we should take stock of how our year has gone and look inward to see what
positive changes we can make this coming year.
If one looks at the round Rosh Hashana challahs, one will find that many
are round and braided but many are in the shape of a spiral - a shape that
repeats itself as it goes around and around. So the question remains, do we want
this coming year to be a spiral, one that repeats itself like last year or do we
want this year to be one in which we make positive changes - whether they be
personal changes or changes in how we treat others or changes in how we connect
with our Creator.
All excellent questions. Just something to think about as you make challah
Wishing everyone everywhere - and especially everyone who reads this blog
(and we've recently hit an average of 120 a day!) a happy and sweet new year, filled with health, happiness and love
and all good things but especially peace in the Holyland.
Thanks for reading! And if you liked what you saw, please leave a comment!
Rosh Hashanah is in like five minutes. Really it's in three days, but it
feels like five minutes. The only cooking I have done so far is none. But I've
baked, so if nothing else, we'll have dessert, which is all that really matters
I started the day with chocolate chip cookies. Everyone says their recipe
is the best but mine really is. Really. And I will share it with you, just not today.
Cookie Tueday will be back after the holidays and the sharing with happen then.
The other cookies I made today came to me from my good friend, Chai. She
sent me this recipe for Honey Cookies ages ago, but I never seem to have honey
in the house, except around Rosh Hashana. And as luck would have it, I
remembered to pick some up at Shoprite last week so we were good to go.
I followed the directions exactly and yet, I'm pretty sure that something
went wrong somewhere, I'm just not sure where.
The original recipe says to form the dough into small balls and roll them
in sugar. Except my dough didn't come out like dough, it came out more like a
batter. I stuck the bowl with the batter/dough into the fridge for half an hour
but it didn't really help, so I skipped the shaping of the dough and the rolling
in the sugar and just used a teaspoon to drop the batter onto the cookie sheet.
These cookies spread - a lot. So much so that a) I was very happy I used a
teaspoon and not a tablespoon to ladle them out because otherwise I would have
been in big trouble and b)I had to use the edge of a spatula to cut the cookies
apart when they came out of the oven, which would explain why many of the
cookies are square in shape instead of round.
One thing that I noticed that was strangely fascinating - despite the huge
amount of honey in the recipe, the batter was strangely pale in color. And yet once the
cookies were baked, they were a beautiful golden honey color. Weird. I'll have
to ask Josh, my scientist, about that one.
But all in all, these cookies are actually pretty good - and this coming
from someone who doesn't like honey. None of us do. We don't like honey cake, we
don't like honey in our tea and with the exception of Josh who eats just a
little, none of us put honey on our challah over the Rosh Hashanah through
Here is the recipe, straight from Chai (unless I wrote it down wrong, which
is entirely possible. Then it's just my sightly off version of her yummy
1 and 1/3 cups oil
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup honey
4 tablespoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 cups flour
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Foil and grease 5 cookie sheets (or
however many you have). I used three and rotated them in and out, but my point
here is that no more than 12 cookies should be baked per sheet and I got 5 dozen
cookies out of this recipe.
Mix all the ingredients together, except for the flour. Once everything is
mixed well, add the flour and mix until just combined. Roll the dough into
balls and roll the balls in a plate of sugar. (I skipped this part as my batter
was not rollable.) Bake for 10 minutes. Allow to cool and transfer to a cooling
rack. These freeze well - and I know this because I have four and half dozen of
them in the freezer right now and I just took some out to stick into the
lunchboxes and they are totally fine.
Thanks for reading! And if you liked what you saw, please leave a comment!
I meant to share this during the summer, but I forgot. I guess we were too
busy going to the movies - cause they were a buck a person. Yeah, you heard me.
One dollar per person.
There are caveats here though - these weren't the blockbusters of the
summer and they were at an awkward time of day, but who cares, cause they were
one dollar. One more time, all together now! One dollar! Woohoo!
Regal Movie theaters, along with United Artists theaters - depending on where you live - were offering dollar kiddie movies all summer long, on various mornings, depending on what theater you go to.
Josh and my dad took the three older kids and they had the best time. My
kids had never been to the movies before. I was always reluctant to take them
because who wants to pay $10 a ticket* when the kids will, most likely, be scared of
the dark, the noise and be crying when they spill their popcorn and sit on
something sticky on their seat. Also, you really need many adults to go along
if there is more than one kid involved unless you want to take everybody to the
bathroom every time someone has to go. You might as well all just pile into the
bathroom at home and watch a movie on the DVD player in there. It's much cheaper that way.
But these one dollar movies changed everything. And the theater had video
games in the lobby. What more could they ask for? They went, they ate, they
visited the bathroom many many times, they talked loudly - and it didn't matter
because not only was the theater mostly empty**, but the other people that were
there were also pint sized. Perfect.
Just a little something to file away for next summer.
*Is it $10 a ticket? I have no idea. The last time Josh and I went to the
movies we had no kids and saw Shrek 2. That was a looong time ago.
** Because really, who goes to the movies at 10am on a random Tuesday?
I think I've spent a little too much time talking about this birthday party
because random mommies from school are stopping me in Shoprite and asking me how
So how did it go? It went well, thanks for asking. But I'm tired. So in this case it's
the pictures that can tell the story. Okay, maybe some words too. I can't help myself. Here we go.
The Birthday Cake. Two dozen donuts piled up with some candles stuck inside.
Very. Very. Easy.
The Party Games. Notice the inflatabale donuts (tires) hanging from the ceiling.
My awesome brother dressed as a donut.
The balloon pinata filled with candy.
My wonderful brother-in-law and niece performing a magic show.
Making "donut" necklaces out of Froot Loops.
And the party aftermath. Heaven.
We're back to the birthday parties. As I have mentioned once or twice (or fifty
times) my five year old's birthday party was a Dunkin Donuts Carnival. And as
part of the carnival, he really wanted to have some sort of game that involved
darts - sounding, to me, very dangerous. Josh didn't think so, he thought it was
an awesome idea. And then I came across this Balloon Pinata and it
helped me realize how all my boys can have their dart game and I can keep my
sanity - and the darts - under control.
We started with a huge piece of mdf. I want to explain what mdf is, but I am not
sure what it is exactly. It looks like wood, it acts like wood but it's not wood*. Also, we already had it in the basement so technically, it was free which is what we were going for. Balloons were to be blown up, filled with candy and attached to the board.
There were about 15 kids coming so Josh made a good 25 balloons, not so much
because he thought they'd pop before they were attached to the board, but more
because he likes candy.
Days before the party, my kids had painted the "wood" and we let it dry, leaning
it against the wall in the basement because the party was only a few days away
and what could happen, right? A lot. Hurricane Irene happened. And the basement
flooded. And the party was postponed - twice. And we were so busy doing
hurricane cleanup we weren't paying attention to the huge board in the basement.
And the whole bottom of the board got moldy. Of course, no one realized that until
Josh went down there during the party to attach the balloons to the
board and had to stop and saw eight inches off the bottom. It still worked out
well but it wasn't as huge as I thought it would be.
The goal was to fill balloons with candy and have the kids throw the darts
and pop the balloons - each kid getting the candy that exploded from his
balloon, thereby avoiding the need for a first aid kit after all the kids bump
heads, trying to grab the candy that falls from a regular pinata. But the whole
dart thing didn't really sit well with me, and in the end, I forgot to get darts
anyway. No really, I did forget. So instead of darts, Josh mc'ed the game by
using one clean, new nail. No tetanus shots needed. The contestant was given the
nail as he came up and it was promptly taken away from him as soon as the
balloon was popped.
It all worked out very well and the kids had a blast. But I think Josh had
the biggest blast of all. You see, in the original instructions for the balloon
pinata, the author did not indicate how to fill the balloons with candy, she
only alluded to her husband being an engineer and having great fun with a rented
wet-vac. My husband, who, in his heart of hearts, will always be the MIT trained
engineer that he is, heard this and right away, it was a competition. With a guy
he doesn't know. And most likely will never meet. But the gauntlet had been
thrown down. Or the PVC pipe, as the case may be. And in this case, it
was PVC pipe. Because that's what Josh came home from Home Depot with.
Some PVC pipes, some black thing he screwed on top of the PVC pipe - and a
borrowed electrical air pump (which reminds me, we must return that...) I didn't
stick around for all of it because it was taking a really long time with all the
candy eating breaks (one for Josh, one for the balloon) but he did it. He got
the candy - we used fizzers because they were long and thin and fit through the
PVC pipe without getting stuck - into the balloons. The laffy taffys, not so much. And the lollipops, forget it, I don't know what I was thinking. They have sticks, of
course they would pop the balloons.
Anyway, I can't give specifics on the hows of the balloon making, but if
you would like the instructions, just leave a comment and Josh'll get back to
* So I guess that old saying, "If it walks like a duck and talks like a
duck, then it's a duck" ain't all that true...
Are you a Mom?
Of course you are,
your shirt is dirty :)