Tuesday, March 13, 2012

My Haphazard Weight Watchers Challah

My attempt at making Challah bread would be best if I could call out for my deceased female members of my family on my mother's side. Each and every member of my family made the best Challah bread, not just for the Sabbath on Friday...which was never really explained to me when I was a young child, but for other Jewish holiday traditions as well.

I never had to make my own Challah bread all theses years, up until the late nineties after my last aunt passed away...then, the tradition was broken. I was way too busy working days, at an affluent Jewish Country Club and 3 nights a week working for a mega wealthy household in Palm Beach as a Private Chef. Good thing I didn't have to do any bread baking...that would require a "separate position!"...end of that story!
If any one should doubt what this bread is all about, here's a little history behind it!

The braided challah, which is made with eggs, is the Jewish Sabbath‑and‑holiday bread. It is surrounded by folklore and tradition and loaded with symbolism. On festive occasions a blessing is said over two loaves, symbolizing the two portions of the manna that was distributed on Fridays to the children of Israel during their Exodus from Egypt. The breads are covered on the table by a decorative challah cover or a white napkin, which represents the dew that collected on the manna in the morning. Poppy and sesame seeds sprinkled on the bread also symbolize the manna that fell from heaven. 

Challah is made in various sizes and shapes, all of which have a meaning.
Braided ones, which may have three, four, or six strands, are the most common, and because they look like arms intertwined, symbolize love.

 Three braids symbolize truth, peace, and justice.

 Twelve humps from two small or one large braided bread recall the miracle of the 12 loaves for the 12 tribes of Israel. Round loaves, “where there is no beginning and no end,” are baked for Rosh Hashanah to symbolize continuity. Ladder and hand shapes are served at the meal before the fast of Yom Kippur—the ladder signifying that we should ascend to great heights, the hand that we may be inscribed for a good year. On Purim, small triangular loaves symbolize Haman’s ears; at Shavuot, two oblongs side by side represent the Tablets of the Law. The bulkah is a segmented rectangular challah.

Sweet challahs with honey or raisins are baked during the festive season to bring joy and happiness.

The name “challah” is derived from the Hebrew word used for “portion” in the Biblical commandment “of the first of your dough you shall give unto the Lord a portion for a gift throughout your generations.

Linking to: Full Plate Thursday @ Miz Helen's Country Cottage 

from the Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook

1/2 cup lukewarm water
1 1/2 cups + 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 envelope active dry yeast
1 large egg, beaten
2 teaspoon corn oil
2 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg white, beaten with 1 Tbsp. water
(I used one whole egg, beaten with ! Tbsp. water)
1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds

In a small bowl, combine the water and 1 Tbsp. of the flour; sprinkle with the yeast. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes. Stir in the egg and oil.

In a food processor, combine the remaining flour, the sugar, and salt. With the machine running, scrape the yeast mixture through the feed tube until the dough just forms a ball. Knead the dough by pulsing until it is smooth and elastic, about 30 times.

Spray a large bow with nonstick spray: place dough in the bowl. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let the dough rise in a warm draft free place
until it double in volume, about 1 hour. Punch down the
dough; lightly sprinkle a work surface with flour.

 Divide into 3 equal pieces. Roll each piece between your palms.

Roll into an 18-inch rope between the palm of your hands.

Pinch ropes together at one end, and braid loosely.

Be sure to braid the three ropes loosely to allow room for the dough to rise the second time.
Cover loosely with a plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm, draft-free place until double in volume, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 175 C. Brush the loaf with half of the egg white. Bake about 20 minutes...as seen in the photo...after 20 minutes. Brush with remaining egg white, and sprinkle with the poppy seeds, if you're using poppy seeds.

Bake until loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom 10-15 minutes longer. Remove fro the baking sheet and cool completely on a rack.
Points value: 2

Note: this is an excellent small loaf of bread to bake, if you're not planning to make 2 loaves. 1 1/2 cups of flour, is such a small amount, compared to 3 to 5 cups used when baking breads. Simple and easy, just need practice with the braiding!

Not much to say about my weekend indulges...I practically ate the entire little loaf of bread by myself, before I got to share it with my family. Although, I did manage to lose 1 more pound...Total: 14lbs, and still going!

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  1. wow i'm always so impressed at people who can make their own braided breads! challah bread is yummy! and i didn't know u worked as a private chef!

    1. Junia-like I mentioned in the past that I don't really like to talk about my professional position; #1 reason is: too many people "tooting their own horn" ...and as for myself, it's too long of a story...actually several stories. Since 1991, I was what you call the "pioneer private chefs"...just a start of the TREND if you can call it that. I started out catering for a typical Palm Beach/Boca Raton well known catering company, and was asked by clients if I could cook for them privately. Unfortunately, most of them did not offer benefits, so therefore I had to take on a full time second job, which did offer great benefits...just way, less pay!

  2. I love the bread but I love the meaning of the bread even more, such wonderful heritage.
    You have had a colorful and exciting career for sure.

    1. Laurie-I always knew about the three braids and the round loaf with the raisins, but did not know about all the others until recently.
      Yes, my career was...and I say "was" because I no longer work as a Private Chef. Did that, for 20 years combined with restaurant work, a total of 30+ yrs.
      As for my heritage, that is wonderful for sure. Thank you for such a kind and thoughtful comment from a multi-talented and creative artist and painter!

  3. Csodás a kalácsod! A történetet is nagyon jó volt olvasni. :)
    Bocsáss meg, hogy ritkábban tudok mostanában benézni, de az utóbbi időben nagyon sokat dolgozom.

    1. Petra, nincs semmi baj, teljesen megértem hogy el vagy foglalva a munkáddal...hiszen te még csak egy kis mama vagy fiatal kis gyerek, vagy gyerekekkel, mint a lányom is!

  4. Beautiful loaf of bread - I would have eaten it all no problem! Congrat on the 14 lbs - thats fantastic - I wish I could lose that much!!! I'm going to have another go signing up!
    Mary x

    1. Mary-it shouldn't be difficult to sign up since you're also on Blogger. Just click the blue box where it says: join this site, and follow through. Maybe you signed in somewhere else other than on this site!

  5. Fantastic! 14 lb I know how good you feel! Good lord thats amazing ....Weight watchers rules! I am giving up all food for wine lol..... since I do that alot Whine lol... this bread is so tempting my dear girl... I am a bread watcher right now but if this was in front of me! oh boy butter and challah my weakness next to crossiants! ouch on the cholesterol.... thanks for this wonderful recipe I am sure being you shared a family memorie its fantastic as it looks.. you aced this one!

  6. you are too kind, I just think its so interesting to get to know all the stories behind our blogging friends blogs.Thankyou so much for your kind words.

  7. Gorgeous braid, Elisabeth! I love this rich bread. I'm not sure how authentic the ones I had were. I guess it's time I tried this out for myself with your authentic recipe just to be sure. Good excuse to make more bread, really. I just love good bread!
    PS How's Prince doing?

  8. The bread looks wonderful,and thank for sharing the story about it :)

  9. I think the braid looks really wonderful! you've done a great job with it... I have made challah a few times and I have always loved it! Thanks for sharing the story and your recipe :)

  10. It looks perfectly perfect!!!

  11. bella bella this bread is GORGEOUS....and I looooove challah. I loved hearing all of the historical details, it is sooo intriguing! I definitely want to try this someday....with poppyseeds! :)

  12. Elisabeth, I could have eaten this all by myself! Beautiful and I am also imagining the glorious scent as it baked. An indulgence once in a while - even a big one - doesn't generally lead to weight gain, It's what we do on a day to day, week to week basis that really matters. As I mentioned on my blog, please don't worry in the least about getting that bowl out to me tomorrow - you haven't been well and I know you'll send it in due time, in the meantime just rest up and if you don't get it out until next week, that's no problem at all - seriously :)

  13. Hi Elisabeth,your challah looks amazing!Greeks have a very similar version made for Easter,but I haven't really looked into its traditional background Thank you for sharing both the recipe and the story behind it! XOXO

  14. Ah, I love challah it looks so good Elisabeth!

  15. Hi Elisabeth, I love your challah bread, look extremely good. I like your first picture, it look perfect. Thank for sharing the step by step photos and the history of challah bread.

    Have a nice day. *hugs*

  16. Challah is one of my favorite breads...and yours looks so eggy and perfect!!! Excellent job on your first attempt...braiding hair is so much easier than bread :) I would have eaten the whole loaf, too...and congrats on your continued weight loss, my friend!!! xo

  17. Elisabeth,
    Thank you for the history lesson and the beautiful Challah Bread. I didn't know any of the symbolism of the bread Your braid is beautiful, as well as the bread. Thank you so much for sharing.

  18. Your challah looks so beautifully braided! I love it with lots of raisins ;-)

  19. De megkóstolnám a kalácsodat!!!! Nagyon szép!

  20. Elisabeth most bizony én sóvárgok a Te gyönyörűséges kalácsod után. Nagyon finom lehet főleg sok mazsolával és egy kis citromhéjjal megbolondítva. Imádnám egy pohár kakaó mellé. Köszönöm Neked, ezt a kis történetet, jó volt elolvasni, és megtudni a fonás eredetét.

    Itt is szeretnék kedves Elisabeth köszönetet mondani azért a sok dicséretért mellyel minden látogatásod alkalmával megajándékozol a blogomba. Nagyon köszönöm, és bevallom nagyon jólesnek a kedves szavaid, és már ezért is megérte belekezdenem a blogírásba. Puszillak Gizi

  21. I love making challah bread and have never seen a calories reduced version before. How nice that you can enjoy bread like this while continuing to lose weight. Your braiding looks just perfect, maybe someday you can teach your grandchildren how to make challah and carry on your family tradition.

  22. Elisabeth! Nálad mindig tanul az ember valamit.Kedves, hogy a szimbólumokat is ismertetted!
    Gyönyörű a kenyér, nálunk a húsvéti kalács hasonló.

  23. It looks lovely - I love the braiding and the crust, it sort of reminds me of a brioche. I made bread the other day as well and it's all gone - I really can't resist bread at all!

  24. Elizabeth, Your bread looks simply beautiful! Love the history you gave about the Challah. Nice that you are still losing weight on Weight Watchers…hooray for you! Very nice post…very interesting!

  25. This is a great post. Wonderful new look and a great quote up there. Enjoyed the history and glad you enjoyed the bread!

    1. Thanks everyone for your positive feedback on my mini Challah bread...and yes, Ramona, I did enjoy the bread; just, with all that work involved, I would have preferred to double the recipe and make at least 2 loaves. Weight Watchers truly has some amazing and light recipes, all to fit today's life style of health conscious people. Not a bad way to enjoy good food, and still lose weight!

  26. Hi Elisabeth,
    I just love Challah Bread and your bread looks awesome. Your braid is so perfect, yum, I wish I could have a slice right now. Hope you are having a great week end and thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday.
    Happy St. Patrick's Day!
    Miz Helen

  27. Interesting, I had no idea that it meant portion, the whole family loves Challah, I will have to try this ( lol something tells me I might have a problem roping it though) Im a bit of a MESSY cook!!