Challah! For Hanukkah
While Challah's not specifically a Hanukkah food, we have some charming holiday challah recipes to try if you want challah for Hanukkah.
If you have a hankering for challah for Hanukkah, we don’t blame you. Soft, rich, and sweet — it's a superlative food typically used as a ceremonial bread for Shabbat and Jewish holidays. It isn't, however, considered traditional food specifically for Hanukkah (like potato latkes), but it's a bread worthy of celebration by all during the holidays. Because we’re so focused on food in November and December, we thought we’d shine a light on this enchanting bread and how it can elevate just about any meal.
What Is Challah?
Challah is a bread typically served on Shabbat with a portion taken out as a ceremonial offering. Its production has religious alignment as well — it’s considered “pareve,” which means it has no meat or dairy in it, so it can be eaten with any meal. Though it's usually shaped into long ropes and then braided, for Rosh Hashanah, it's braided into a circle to represent the cycle of the year.
What Makes Challah Special To Eat?
Challah is very similar to brioche — it’s soft, supple, and irresistible. Both breads are made with yeast, eggs, and fat. The difference is the fat — to keep it pareve, challah is made with oil, while brioche calls for butter. To give you some ideas for the week, we pulled some of the more interesting recipes using challah.
This is a basic challah recipe. If you're familiar with making yeast bread, this should be a pretty easy undertaking. The only thing that might trip you up is the addition of eggs and oil, but they're easy enough to add in — it's similar to how you would make cinnamon rolls. After the first rise, the dough is then braided on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and then covered for the final proof. It's then brushed with an egg wash and sprinkled with poppy or sesame seeds before it's baked to a golden brown.
Challah French Toast
Not everyone needs a French toast recipe, but everyone does need to make French toast with challah. There's really no better way to improve a universally treasured breakfast food. But this recipe is extra rich — the challah is soaked in a mixture of eggs, banana, and rum. Together, this is a fabulous way to wake up your holiday guests. 'Tis the season for eating dangerously!
Challah Bread Pudding
Some people call it challah bread pudding, others call it French toast casserole. But one thing it's always called is "delicious." Cubed challah is mixed with eggs and milk before being baked in a casserole dish. For a deeper fall flavor and extra crunch, a few walnuts are sprinkled in before baking. Serve this with syrup for breakfast or with whipped cream for a Hanukkah dessert — either way, you won't be disappointed.
Challah Breakfast Casserole
As long as we're talking about casseroles, let's introduce you to the Challah Breakfast Casserole. There's only one caveat: this recipe does not follow kosher laws of cooking Jewish food — it calls for milk, cheese, and sausage — so if you're sticking to kosher rules, skip this one (or leave off the sausage). If not, it's a great holiday breakfast for a crowd and offers a welcome break from holiday sweets.
Mushroom Challah Dressing
Piggy-backing on the savory breakfast recipe, we present to you the Mushroom Challah Dressing. Challah definitely makes this dressing special, but in addition to the mushrooms, it has a unique assembly of flavors: ginger, marjoram, and sage. It's also a bit richer than most dressing recipes due to the egg that's whisked in with the stock before being poured over the bread mixture. Even though it's not a typical Hanukkah recipe, it makes a great side for roasted chicken or your best brisket.
If you follow a paleo diet, you don't have to miss out on challah. Instead of grains, this recipe uses casava flour. There's also no yeast used — it uses baking soda as a leavener — which means you can have your challah on the table in an hour rather than four hours. This challah strays from tradition a little bit, but more and more recipes are being adapted to fit different dietary restrictions every day.
If there's anyone who knows the pain of "dietary restriction" it's celiac sufferers and those with gluten sensitivity — but they too can indulge in challah for the holidays with the Ultimate Gluten-Free Oat Challah! This recipe uses a blend of five different flours instead of all-purpose flour to get the right rise and right consistency for a rich bread. It also uses gelatin to make it chewy to match traditional challah. This is evidence that you can give up gluten without giving up the good stuff!
We saved the best for last — Nutella Babka. Though it's not called challah, for babka (the word for “little grandmother” in Ukranian, Russian, and Eastern European Yiddish), the dough part is almost identical to challah. It's then twisted up with sugar and spices (or just chocolate) to make a sort of coffee cake loaf. It's both amazing to eat and to look at — the twisting of the dough with the dark spices or chocolate creates swirls in the bread. It's totally worth every bit of work that goes into it and makes a great breakfast for holiday visitors.