Tuesday, March 18, 2008

challah for purim

with purim — or the festival of lots — only a few days away now, much baking is happening in many a household. considered a very joyful holiday, it is one filled with lots of food, especially sweet things to be served at home and to be given away in mishlo'ach man'ot or celebratory {holiday} baskets spilling over with all sorts of good things.

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!



דורית said...

After making over 12 mishlochei manot - I need some rest! But I ill make them!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Wow, that Challah looks fantastic! I love that idea (onion filling)...

On Monday, I'm invited to some American friend's brunch, so I'm going to make one of my favorite breads: Challah ;-P!!! I think that I'm going to shape it like you did...

Cheers and have a great Purim!


Anonymous said...

i'm going shopping right now to get some poppy seeds!. this is a must try. have a rye dough rising now, but this lovely rosca will be in my oven by tomorrow.thanks for posting such nice recipes.( besides, i rather like the idea of eating haman's death rope, feel like a carnivorous esther! :D )

Rengarenk dantel said...

Çok güzel ve lezzetli gözüküyor, kutlarım...

Very beautifull and delicious appear. I congratulate...

Anonymous said...

Walla! Like an inside-out bialy! I love it! Gotta find time to bake this one of these days...

Hag sameah!

burekaboy — said...

SORRY ALL for the delay in responding!

prettybaker - sounds like you were very busy with all those mislochei manot! i'm sure everyone enjoyed what you put it them :) but, what happened to mine?!? LOL ;)

rosa - i hope you had a nice brunch and that your challah turned out successfully. as always, thanks for the comment :)

sar - yo se que AHORA no puedes decir que no tienes los poppy seeds! GET BAKING!! hope you like the rosca.

nazlı - ahalan ve teþekkür ederim! it is a very nice bread to look at and eat :))

shelly - happy belated purim .... it's a fun bread to bake actually. it stays fresh for a few days also. i always finish it off quickly.

Anonymous said...

hi that looks wonderful!

I tried this recipe (from maggie glezer's book - towards the bottom of the page)


but I had trouble shaping it - the dough did split. I like your version better, it looks easier to make. Did you purposefully adapt a recipe like this to make it smaller?

Also, why do you cook the filling?

Does it freeze well with the cooked filling?

I hope b"eh to try yours...maybe not before pesach though, LOL

you have a great site! Thanks

burekaboy — said...

hi anon - thank you :)

as for maggie glezer: i've tried quite a few of her things over the past several years. in my experiences — some work (well), some don't (or they're not as good as touted to be). that being said, she does have nice things.

this recipe is actually adapted from a sefardi one called a rosca (i mention about it in my post) but the flavourings are very different {doesn't involve poppy seeds or onions). the original also didn't have the egg in it. the twisted shape is typically sefardic.... in any case, it's basically a challah dough with the filling and this is the size we usually make it. it's not gigantic like some of the recipes i've seen for a similar one.

the filling is cooked because ... errr ... that's the way it is! LOL. out of laziness, i tried once using raw onion (as stated like in your link) and it was not the same result. i also think that is what makes the dough rip (that plus rolling the dough too thinly). the best i can say is try it the way i do it here and see what you think. just so you know, this challah does tend to like to split due to the fact that it is filled -- this can be avoided by only spreading the filling 2/3 to 3/4 (i say stick to 2/3 for the first trial) so as to build more of a "wall" in the rope of dough where there is no filling. also letting the dough relax and fully prove aids in preventing splits.

i haven't tried freezing it once baked -- there has never been leftovers ;) i imagine you could freeze it unbaked/unproved and then bake it when needed, letting it defrost first.

hope that helps .... will be interested to hear if you do try it and see what you think. thanks for the visit and comment.

and b"eh we shall survive pesach! ;o

Roo said...

Hey - long time no chat. This looks delicious, so I am going to try and get my better half to see if he will make it this weekend, seeing he has the breadmaker hands!



burekaboy — said...

hiya roo - it's one of my favourite breads and worth the effort :) hope you guys like it.

Anonymous said...

thanks for your detailed response!
The reason I asked about cooking the filling is that I was wondering if cooking it might make the filling sink into the dough if you freeze the cooked bread - you can freeze the maggie glazer bread. I am bli neder going to try this, though I dont think I will get to it before pesach I will try, again bl"n, to let you know. I am glad to have discovered your site - so many things to try after pesach, one does have to eat after pesach too, right?

have you ever tried your boureka fillings with yeasted dough?

Hag sameah!

Meriem said...

That looks amazing! :)

burekaboy — said...

anon - you're welcome :) i've never frozen the bread so i can't answer your question in that regard. i would imagine it freezes the same way as others.

pessah kasher v'sameach

hi mimi - thank you for your comment and visiting :) sorry for the delayed response.

Anonymous said...

hello! hope you haven't disappeared from the blogosphere... I've been missing your post! :)

burekaboy — said...

maninas - hi :) no, not at all. been terribly busy and taking a bit of a break from the blog to catch up with the rest of my life! "i'll be back!" ;) - to quote arnie, LOL

burekaboy — said...

maninas - thanks for asking ;)

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burekaboy — said...

cooking - hi there, sorry for the delay in answering. thank you for your visit and your kind words.

success with your blog!

Anonymous said...

btw I did try this last year but never got to freezing it. Had a little trouble with the shaping, but we ate it anyway:) thanks