Saturday, November 25, 2006

el pan de shabat

the term, breaking bread literally holds special significance in judaism because challah — the ceremonial sabbath breath — should be torn into pieces and not cut. of course, people do cut it, usually in a special way on friday night and saturday so as not to break the rules and/or tradition. two loaves are needed and are said to represent the double portion of manna that sustained the ancient israelites given to them every friday while in the wilderness — a "bread" of sustenance it truly is.

the egg-rich challah is in reality an ashkenazi invention. the original recipe and form of this ceremonial bread was undoubtedly just yeast, flour and water and made into the shape of what we call "pita". over time, different recipes and forms of sabbath breads evolved. this is an iberian sephardic way, or example, of forming the challah. it is made from seven balls of dough, each representing one of the days of the week. note, however, that sephardic challot are often only made with flour, yeast, salt and water.

it is also formed this way in that it allows for 7 portions which are neatly separated. these portions can be further torn into smaller pieces. it is easier and faster than braiding. the challah is baked in a larger than normal pan which measures 10 1/2" x 3 1/2" x 2 1/4". the baking pan i use is european and comes from my parents, so ..... if you can find this size, it works perfectly. otherwise, i would suggest using two smaller ones and making it with 14 balls of dough (7 in each).

this recipe for this challah is a great all purpose one, not overly sweet but just enough. it always disappears quickly. the recipe for the dough is from second helpings, please [see my previous post here], a cookbook which is much used here in these parts. the recipe itself was written up as "award winning". the difference is that in this version there is aniseed added, which is typically how it is made and liked in sephardic tradition. you may omit it or add more. you may also add a 1/2 tsp of mahlep (mahlep powder). the other difference, as noted above, is in the way it is shaped.

el pan de shabat
[jalá] — challah bread

will make one large challah.
double it for sabbath purposes.


2 tsp yeast, *instant or active dry (1 tbsp packed fresh yeast)
1 tsp sugar
1/2 c warm water

1/2 c warm water
2 eggs
1/2 c vegetable oil
1/4 - 1/3 c sugar
2 tsp salt
1/4 - 1 tsp anise seeds crushed, optional
1/2 tsp mahlep powder, optional

4 - 4 1/2 c AP or bread flour
(or more as needed to make a non-sticky dough)

1 egg yolk
sesame seeds
1/2 tsp kosher salt

2 cucharaditas de levadura "instant o active dry"
(se puede hacer con la levadura fresca: 1 cuchara llena)
1 cucharadita de azucar
1/2 taza agua tibia

1/2 taza agua tibia
2 huevos
1/2 taza aceite
1/4 - 1/3 taza azucar
2 cucharaditas de sal "kosher" o fino
1/4 - 1 cucharadita de granos de anis
1/2 cucharadita de mahlep

4 - 4 1/2 tazas de harina para hacer pan (mas o menos)

1 yemon de huevo
granos de sesame
1/2 cucharadita de sal kosher


place the yeast in the bowl with the teaspoon of sugar. add the warm water and stir. wait until it is proved. if you are using *instant yeast, you can skip waiting and proceed. the advantage of using the instant yeast here is that you can eliminate and extra rise which makes preparing this bread much faster.

once it has proved, add the next set of ingredients, and mix well.

add the flour and mix well to make a non-sticky dough. add extra flour as required to make a slightly tacky dough. knead the dough for a good 10 to 15 minutes. if not kneaded enough, it will result in a texture which is cake-like and not bread-like.

cover the dough and let rise in a warm place until doubled. if using regular yeast, punch down and let rise again and extra 45 minutes or until doubled again and then follow the proceeding directions to form the loaf. the second rising is important if using active dry type yeast as it lets the yeast multiply to its maximum; instant or rapid rise does not need a second rise (though it can be done) since it is a different strain of yeast.

if using instant yeast, punch down and separate into 7 balls.

grease your bread loaf tins very well with margarine or oil. place the balls in the loaf pan zigzag shape. they will all fit; adjust them if needed.

cover and let this rise again until almost doubled, about 1/2 hour.

preheat your oven to 350 F while the dough is in its last rise.

once the dough has risen, make your egg wash with one egg yolk and 1 tbsp of water. brush this all over the loaf making sure it is all covered with the wash.

sprinkle the salt over the loaf evenly and then sesame seeds. let bake for about 40 minutes, until golden brown. the internal temperature for bread should be 200 F.

before baking:

after baking:


if you understand spanish, here are a few extra jewish recipes. si usted quiere saber que significa "kosher", escuche aqui. otras recetas de cocina judia.


aja said...

Hola, Sr BB,
Me gusto mucho el pan de shabat tuyo. More ideas - oy va voy li!

burekaboy — said...

aja - gracias para tu mensaje. espero que te gusta este pan de shabat. it's fun to make and watch it grow! sometimes i put mahlep in it too but that is hit or miss with some people. hope you try this one, it's always very satisfying, especially shmeared with some chopped liver!

aria said...

wow that is stunning! i'm just humbled! i could just butter up a warm piece of that, i can tell hoe soft it is! yum!!

burekaboy — said...

aria - thanks for your nice compliment; much appreciated :-}

soft it is and even better, as you say, eaten warm slathered in butter!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Your "Challah" looks tremendously beautiful! I wouldn't mind giving it a big bite ;-D...

Until now, I have never seen such a special way of shaping this bread. My next "Challah" will be shaped in the Iberian way. Very interesting...

beenzzz said...

Hola Bureka Boy,
I actually took 2 years worth of Spanish just to forget it all. Challah bread is one of my favorite breads.

burekaboy — said...

rosa - thanks for the nice compliment. it's very fast and easy to make this way. you'll see when you do it. try this recipe, it's amazingly tasty and i've always had great success with it. it's also fun to pull apart after it's baked but more fun to eat!

beenzzz - hola! it's VERY easy to forget what you don't practice, especially languages. some of it comes back when you do. hope you try making some challah, beenzzz. it's muy facil!

Emily DeVoto said...

Es muy seria esa receta de "mousse de chocolate," sin leche o crema... wow! (como se dice "pareve" en castellano?)

burekaboy — said...

emily - me parece que si -- es muy rico aunque no contiene leche o crema. 'pareve' se llama la misma cosa, yo pienso.

se dice 'alimentos neutros' tambien pero yo digo 'parve' todo el tiempo. asi siempre le deciamos en casa.

Karina said...

Hola! Such a beautiful challah. A reader left this link for me. I want to make a challah gluten-free, and this pull-apart style could work! Thank you for your fabulous post. Shalom!

burekaboy — said...

hi karina - thanks for stopping by and checking it out. i am sure it would work. in a way, it is smarter this way for your type of breads since there is no braiding necessary (which would be hard because of the no gluten issue). if you do try and are successful, please let me know! i'd love to see the results. i'm sure others, especially those with the same allergy issue, would love to see it.

chanit said...

החלה שלך הפכה להיות מפורסמת בישראל-תרגמו אותה לעברית והכינו אותה בהצלחה,בפורום ווינט,הרעיון של הכדורים נהדר,גם אני אנסה בקרוב

burekaboy — said...

וואלה?! -- אז צריך להגיד לך תודה רבה לספר לי על החדשות הטובות האלה. להכין חלה בשיטה הזאת מאד קל ומהיר. נסי אותה ותגידי איך היא יצאה - בסדר
? :)

Cleaning Services said...

I can't believe you are a man!

burekaboy — said...

hi cleaning services - glad you like what you see :)) LOL, funny -- you're not the first to make that comment :D sheesh, and people think men can't cook! hehe. i guess i am in the minority, it seems.

thanks for the comment and visit.

ByTheBay said...

I've got a pull-apart gluten-free challah in the oven right now! I'll let you know how it turns out... It's made with lots of eggs (to help make up for lack of gluten). it's my first time being brave enough to experiment with one of my favorite foods in the universe (and the one i miss the most since being GF). Thanks for giving me the inspiration to try making challah this way.

burekaboy — said...

hi BTB - glad i could help in this respect :) i do hope it turned out well. you can bake it in a round bundt type pan to make a circular challah for yomtov, also. you'll be making challah all month, i gather!! :) gut yomtov!

ByTheBay said...

it turned out tasty, but not exactly pull-apart... More like slice-apart, but with lumps on the top to make it at least look vaguely challah-like. It was delicious and made a good french toast. I'll post pictures and recipe on my blog soon. And will keep working on improving the recipe with the goal of eventually making it braidable!

burekaboy — said...

btb - sorry to hear about that :( will look for your post to see how it turned out! like i mentioned in my other comment, try it perhaps making balls and placing them in a circle around the outer edge of a round baking pan. GF baking is definitely a challenge. good luck with the experimenting :)