On Friday night at camp, the smell of fresh baked challah fills the Chadar Ochel, signaling to our campers and staff that Shabbat is here!
The Shabbat meal at Sci-Tech is delicious (and the rest of the food is too), but the challah wasn’t perfect from day 1… It was a journey to get there!
Thinking back to 2014, I remember thinking about how important it was to have great challah on Friday night at camp… When I went to Shabbat services as a child, I was always one of the first to the oneg, because if you were a kid and you were next to the Rabbi when he cut the challah, you always got one of the big pieces. The challah at Temple Avodah in Oceanside, NY was from Steinberg’s bakery, and people waited in a long line to get! It was a real treat when every Friday, it would be waiting for us all at the temple oneg. When we first started camp, we experimented with buying challah from a few different bakeries, none of which seemed to do the trick. One day we learned that the Governor’s Academy dining staff had an in-house baker (who makes all of the muffins, pumpkin bread, and banana bread fresh every day), so along with one of our rabbis, I approached the baker and asked her if she had ever made challah. Here response, “no, but I’ll give it a shot.” After a couple of tryouts, we landed on the recipe that was use today, the challah recipe of Rabbi Debbie Bravo. This is the recipe that fills our tummy’s on Friday night and makes Shabbat so special, and I cannot wait to make it in two days for my own Rosh Hashana dinner.
1 cup warm water
½ cup vegetable oil
just under ½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups flour (if using bread machine, use flour better for bread)
2 teaspoons yeast (or 1 packet)
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon water
Procedure if using Bread Machine
1. Put eggs, water, vegetable oil, sugar and salt in bread machine container.
2. Add flour.
3. Make small hole in flour and add yeast.
4. Put on dough setting (90 minutes).
5. When finished, punch it down one more time.
Procedure if making By Hand
1. Put yeast in bowl. Add water. Let the yeast activate for 5 minutes.
2. Add flour, eggs, vegetable oil and sugar into bowl. Then add salt.
3. Mix the ingredients together, almost folding the ingredients in.
4. Let the dough rise. Punch it down and let it rise again.
5. Punch it down one more time.
For Both Bread Machine and By Hand
6. Divide into 2 sections and braid each one.
7. Put on cookie sheet sprayed with Pam and a little flour.
8. Let it sit at least 30 minutes. (More than a few hours and you will want to keep
punching it down or put it in the fridge.)
9. Mix egg yolk with water. Spread on top of challah.
10. Put in 350 degree oven for 22-30 minutes, depending on oven.
Let cool for 15 minutes before eating, and say Hamotzi!