any jewish festivity also typically has some form of bread associated with it. the following challah is the "ashkenazified" version of the sefardi one that i know as la rosca de purim. it is askkenazified with respect to the filling but retains the sefardi shape of a twisted round (i remember being told it was the noose used to hang haman! LOL). the original bread is not a filled one and contains raki, some dried fruit & a few spices — not something i particularly like/d. this version makes a great bread which is always enjoyed by everyone. i like it even better the next day; if you keep it wrapped in a plastic bag, the onion mixture softens the dough nicely and the flavours deepen.
it is an easy bread to make however it requires a more delicate hand than just making regular challah. read through all the instructions before starting it and don't go beyond the dimensions in the recipe or the dough will rip, especially while baking.
rosca de purim · challah for purim
makes one medium sized rosca (6, maybe up to 8 servings)
1 c finely chopped onion
2 tbsp margarine or butter
3 - 4 tbsp poppy seeds
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 - 1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp rapid rise yeast (or 1 1/2 tsp regular)
1/4 tsp sugar
1/4 c warm water
1 large egg*
4 tbsp margarine or butter, melted
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
2 1/2 c bread flour (or ap flour)
*mix the egg in a small dish and use half for the dough and the other half to coat the loaf
make the filling:
chop the onion finely and measure it. don't skip measuring it as adding too much will cause the loaf to split.
place the onion, poppy seeds, salt, pepper, sugar and margarine or butter in a microwaveable bowl and cook it for 1 1/2 minutes — until the onion wilts. you can also do this in fry pan. place aside covered until later.
make the dough:
prove the yeast with the sugar and water for 10 to 15 minutes.
in another bowl, add 1/2 the egg, the sugar, salt and melted margarine and mix well. make sure the margarine or butter is NOT hot or it will curdle the egg. add the yeast and mix again.
add half the flour and mix until you have a cohesive dough and wet mixture. beat it by hand for about 3 or 4 minutes. this will build the gluten.
add the rest of the flour and if the dough feels "wet" add a bit more. it will feel a little sticky at first but as you knead it will loose its stickiness.
knead the dough for a minimum of 5 to 7 minutes. up to 10 minutes is ideal.
place the dough in a bowl and let rise for 1 hour in a warm spot.
take the dough out of the bowl --> DO NOT roll it back into a ball. place it on a clean surface where you can roll it out.
cut the ball of dough exactly in half. keep one part in front of you and place the other back in the bowl and cover it.
press down on the dough and then roll it out into a rectangle which measures 10" x 8". it will look small at this point however you will roll it out further after you fill the dough. make sure the longer side, and not the short, is facing you as you will roll it up this way. important is not to exceed the dimensions as the dough runs the risk of splitting if you go too thin.
leaving a 1 inch border all the way around, place half the filling in the center of the dough. with a spatula spread it out HOWEVER leave a 2 inch border near the top — you can, as i show in the picture, go all the way to the 1 inch border but you may run the risk of the dough splitting. leaving a wider border near the top ensures it won't (err, well, shouldn't.....). if you're experienced at baking then go ahead and do as i have done.
roll the dough up lengthwise starting at the edge closest to you. roll it tightly and then pinch the dough where it meets as shown in the picture below. fuse the ends closed with your fingers.
now place this aside and cover it while repeating the process again for the second rope.
take the first rope (the second needs to wait for the gluten to relax) and gently lengthen it by rolling it — the finished length should measure 20 to 21 inches. do not exceed this.
fold it in half and set it aside and repeat with the second rope.
now place the ropes together next to each other and from the center start to twist them on either side. don't twist too tightly or it may break.
prepare your baking sheet. i always use parchment paper.
now make the ring by bringing the edges together and trying to join them. don't worry if they don't look perfect. as the ring proves, they will sort of grow into each other. if you like, you can place it in a bundt type pan but make sure it's a large one!
the other way this bread was shaped was not to make a ring but to bake it just as is, like a long (twisted) rope. this is the easier method for a beginning baker.
cover and let rise for about 50 minutes but after about 30 minutes, preheat oven to 350F.
with the reserved egg yolk, brush the loaf all over. sprinkle with poppy seeds.
bake the loaf for 35 to 40 minutes only. it should be a nice golden brown. don't overbake!