Zingerman's Braided Challah/ Antonis Achilleos
Challah is a braided soft bread enriched with eggs, oil, and honey, first made in this form by Ashkenazi Jews in 15th-century Europe. The braiding was an adaptation from a local Teutonic bread. Challah started as a plain bread that, over the course of the 15th century, became more enriched. It was not sweetened until the early 19th century, when sugar became more available and more affordable all over Europe. Then, as now, challah was used to celebrate the Jewish Sabbath and other religious occasions.
We love our challah as it is, but we also bake two fancier versions. For the Jewish High Holidays we bake a challah studded with rum-soaked raisins and shaped like a turban. The spiral of the turban represents the circularity of life. We also make a Moroccan version of challah, flavored with sesame, poppy, and aromatic anise and brushed with a honey syrup to give it a touch of extra sweetness. We refer to the Jewish High Holidays at the bakery as “Challah Daze” because we’re making so many challahs. Having the first taste of the season is something we look forward to.
Challah is wonderful as a daily bread too. The Bakehouse staff chose it as the number 1 bread for French toast.