the picture u see here is of hinde amchanitzki [ca. 1901] and her cookbook for newly arrived immigrants to "amerikeh", the title translated as "a learning (text) book for how to cook and bake". amichanitzki's cookbook was the first one written in yiddish in the united states. imagine owning a copy of that? or any first edition cookbooks from "back then" — be they jewish or not. Another note of interest is esther levy's publication called the Jewish Cookery Book, published in Philadelphia in 1871 — a now rare cookbook which demonstrated fine dining through the maintainance of the dietary [kasruth] laws. reprinted copies are available should you be interested. while on the same topic, i will add judith [cohen] montefiore's book, the first jewish one published in english in europe. called The Jewish Manual: Practical Information in Jewish and Modern Cookery with a Collection of Valuable Recipes & Hints Relating to the Toilette, it was published in london in 1846.
edited to add: for a more in depth look at the cookery behind montefiore's & levy's cookbooks, i suggest reading this article.
1 c. boiling water
1/2 c. cold water
1/8 tsp. saffron, crumbled or ground in mortar [optional]
7 T oil
1/2 c. honey
1 1/2 -2 tsp salt
1 T. yeast - active dry
2 beaten eggs plus one egg yolk
6 1/2 to 7 c. flour (AP), more if needed
1/2 to 3/4 c. raisins (optional)
1 egg yolk, 1 T water
sesame seeds and/or poppy seeds
In large bowl combine:boiling water and saffron. wait 2 minutes. then add cold water, and honey and mix with whisk. add yeast (make sure water is not too hot) and leave to proof for 10 minutes. whisk. add salt and eggs and mix. add flour until you have a dough which is no longer sticky and knead 10 minutes. you can knead the flour into it in the bowl and then work it on a board after. put it in a greased bowl and cover and let rise 2 hrs. punch down, knead for another 5 minutes or so and let it rise again 1 hr. deflate the dough and let rest 10 minutes. carefully work the raisins in at this point if your using them. divide dough in 2 equal portions. roll out to about 14 inch ropes with one end more tapered than the other. roll into a turban like shape starting with the bigger end and tucking the end just underneath the rolled challah.
preheat oven to 350. and let rest covered for only about 45-50 minutes. glaze with egg wash and sesame/poppy seeds.
bake 45 minutes or until golden brown. cook on rack.
update: maggie glezer's challah
as promised, here are the results:
the challah itself was quite good but not "the best" i've ever made & tasted. i prefer mine on the sweeter side. definitely an 8/10. in terms of a challah for Rosh Hashanah, i recommend increasing the honey content to almost double; you may need a little extra flour to compensate for the increased liquid content.
her recipe is as follows: taken from her book [see above], pg. 94-96; note this is my abridged version. if you want full details, get the book or borrow it.
Maggie Glezer's, "My Challah"
2 tsp instant yeast
3 1/2 c. AP flour
1/4 c. warm water
3 large eggs, 1 extra for glazing
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 vegetable oil
1/4 c. honey
make a yeast slurry: in a bowl, add yeast & 1/4 c. of the flour and the warm water. let proof until puffy, 10 to 20 minutes. add the rest of the ingredients and knead the dough for 10 minutes. at this point u can put the dough in fridge for up to 24 hrs and continue after that. let dough come warm up for 30-60 minutes. if not refrigerated, skip that part and continue to let the dough rise approx. 2 hrs. til doubled. then shape the dough. now, you have a choice. either let it rise for two hours and bake or refrigerate the dough at this point overnight or for up to 24 hrs now to "develop" its flavour. remove from fridge and let rise again loosely covered for 2 to 3 hrs. dough should not feel cold. if you poke the dough the impression should not disappear immediately. about 45 minutes before baking, heat the oven to 325 F. yes, 325 F! i was surprised also but it works. bake the challah for 35 minutes.
you may braid the challah as regularly done, or make the yom tov (holiday) round design or make rolls with a smaller challah.