WHAT IS A CHALLAH?
Traditionally this is a loaf of braided bread baked to celebrate the Jewish sabbath. The classic recipe is a leavened bread consisting of egg, water, flour, yeast and salt. However the name has become a generic term for any bread used in Hebrew rituals. The word comes from the Torah where God feeds the Israelites fleeing Egypt with “manna.” Today a portion of bread is set aside as a religious offering. Similar to brioche, challah is brushed with an egg wash and sprinkled with salt before baking. The shapes can vary depending on the specific religious date and flavorings are allowed to give it a fun spin.
WHERE IS THE BEST CHALLAH MADE?
So the geographic location has a huge impact on the answer to this question. In NYC, Chanie Apfelbaum’s Challah recipe out of Brooklyn is a favorite. Also Breads Bakery in Manhattan makes a great one as well. Overseas in Tel Aviv Lehamim is a local gem worth trying.
HOW SHOULD CHALLAH BE STORED?
Because of the use of egg refrigerating overnight is acceptable. But for the best results, store the bread in an airtight bag and freeze. They should keep for at least 2 months. The key is to not allow moisture to either escape from or saturate the bread. When ready to eat, take directly out of the freezer and bake in a hot oven. If you’re going to serve it sliced, cut the bread before freezing.
WHY IS CHALLAH DIPPED IN SALT?
Salt is a symbol of the covenant between God and the Jewish people (Leviticus 2:13). In many cultures and religions, salt is a sign of purity, friendship and loyalty. It’s historical value both in adding flavor and as a preservative no doubt had a lot to do with this.