This challah recipe is about much more than its mixture of flour, water and oil. Interspersed within each step of the recipe are entreaties appropriate to this task.
Just as you may want to use your own challah recipe, you may decide to include personal prayers of your own. Many women find these thoughts meaningful as they mix ingredients in preparation for our special mitzvah of taking challah.
5 cups warm water
1/2-1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons yeast
5 pounds flour
1 cup vegetable oil
4 tablespoons Kosher salt (3 tablespoons in Israel)
1 egg, beaten
1. Pour the warm water into a very large mixing bowl.
Water is compared to Torah.
May our home be a warm environment, conducive for Torah growth.
2. Stir in a few tablespoons of the sugar. Sprinkle yeast over the water and stir once. Cover the bowl with a large towel. Allow to stand about 10 minutes until bubbly and frothy.
Yeast is the fuel for the bread's growth.
May our desire to come close to Hashem by doing his will fuel our growth.
3. Add the flour to the bowl.
Flour gives substance to bread in the same way
Torah and mitzvos give substance to our lives.
4. Pour in the oil a little at a time.
Oil was used to anoint the king into serving as leader
of the Jewish people. As you pour, say the name of each family member and think of their noble qualities. May they use them well to serve Hashem and k'lal Yisrael.
5. Add remaining sugar.
Think of the sweetness that having faith and trust in Hashem brings.
May we have emuna that Hashem is constantly at our side.
6. Measure salt into a small dish. Remove and discard a small amount of salt. Add the remainder to the flour mixture.
Salt keeps the yeast growth in check,
preventing the dough from over inflation and collapse.
We remove a bit of salt to remind us that, while we must give rebuke to help our loved ones grow properly, may we have the wisdom to withhold our full force.
7. Either in the bowl or on a clean flat surface, knead the dough until very smooth, adding small amounts of flour if the dough becomes sticky and oil if the mixture is dry.
Torah and mitzvos, like water and flour, require work to become fully integrated. As you mix and knead, the dough changes from loose to raggy, then smooth and substantive.
Now is an opportune time to think of those in need of our prayers and ask Hashem to bless them with health, children, success, a suitable match and peace.
8. Oil the sides of the bowl, roll the dough in the oiled bowl until it is completely coated. Cover with plastic wrap. Place covered bowl in a draft free place, a closed oven is good, to rise for an hour or until doubled in bulk.
Our neshama, like the dough, flourishes in a place of warmth and stillness. Just as the bowl is covered, our growth is not always visible.
Oiling the bowl reduces friction and helps the dough to rise. May we help our loved ones by giving them warmth and understanding.
9. When the dough has risen, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Uncover, punch gently in the center with your fist, the dough will deflate. Now is the time to take challah.
The act of taking challah is a very deep concept that says: we accept that the source of our sustenance and strength is from none other than the King and Creator of the Universe, our own giving, loving Father.
Whether you use the ingredients in this water challah recipe, bake from one of your own or patronize your local bakery, we recognize that everything we have is from the open, loving, merciful hand of Hashem.
10. Shape dough into eight loaves. You can also make other breads with the water challah recipe. Place shaped breads on a baking pan lined with parchment paper or in pans coated with baking spray. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap. Allow to rise for 30 minutes to one hour, until almost doubled. After rising, brush with beaten egg and bake 25-35 minutes until golden. After a few minutes, remove the delicious smelling loaves from their pans to cool on a wire rack.