There is nothing quite as wonderful as the smell of bread baking in the oven. For
the Sabbath and holidays that bread is Challah, or as it is sometimes called, Egg Bread.
Although the idea of baking one's own bread may seem a bit of a challenge for those
who have never done it before, be assured that with a little patience and practice,
you too can turn out delicious, shiny loaves that will delight your family and be the
envy of your friends.
Here are several different recipes for Challah, followed by a general discussion of bread making:
To make a round Challah, you can braid the dough first and then twist into a circle;
divide the dough so you can top a large braided circle with a smaller one, or form a
rectangle about 16" by 12" and roll it like a jelly roll from the longer side to form
a log about 18" long. You may sprinkle with more raisins at this point if you wish.
Starting at one end, roll the log into itself to form a "turban" or snail shell shape
and transfer to a baking sheet. Cover and let rise until double before baking. When braiding,
if you pull the braids tight, they will rise higher during baking and make a lighter and
higher loaf. A four or six rope braid is more complicated, but basically involves taking the
strand farthest on the right and lifting it over the next two or three strands closest to it.
Then, take that strand and twist it under the strand to the right of it. In other words, go
over two or three stands and back under one. Repeat this with the strand on the far left. Each
time you do this, you change the position and order of the strands. Pinch the ends together
when done and fold underneath to secure. You should have a thick center that tapers at each end.
It goes without saying that your yeast should be as fresh as possible. Your dough should
be put to rise in a warm place, away from drafts, but not anywhere more than 100*. When
kneading, knead gently. To test for doneness, tap the bottom of the bread. A hollow sound
indicates that it is done. Always cool completely uncovered on a wire rack. We suggest
further reading in a good, basic cookbook such as Joy of Cooking for more useful tips about