Most folks familiar with Judaism are familiar with challah. If you are not so familiar, it is a beautiful braided bread. Typically we eat it on Shabbat, or on holidays, and it has become a really sweet tradition in our family to make one from scratch, together, and literally “break bread” after sundown on Shabbat.
When Joe and I started dating, and I would fly to Houston for the weekend, we would bake Challah when I got there. We called it our “Love Challah.” It became a joke in our family, mostly because it sounds silly, but upon reflection, that is exactly what this challah is to us. As a family we prepare it, braid it, bake it, anticipate eating it, and actually share it with a meal. It brings us together. We laugh, and argue over who gets to do which task, and we spend time talking about how amazing it tastes, complimenting one another.
Before we eat it, we light the Shabbat candles. During that time, we all make a wish. Sometimes we wish for a new pair of shoes, sometimes we wish for more family time, and sometimes we wish for things that come true in a profound way.
Before our kids knew that we were dating, Joe lit the Shabbat candles with them. Joe had them make a wish, as has become our tradition. Later, when they were talking about their wishes, my daughter started to cry. When Joe asked her what was wrong, she told him that she wished for him to find someone to love again. She told him she didn’t want him to be lonely. When he asked her what that someone should be like, she had a clear picture. She wanted her to be tall, have long hair, love to sing and dance, like to laugh a lot, and most importantly, she needed to love them a lot too.
Joe started crying. He called me later that night to tell me that story, explaining that he felt fortunate that our daughter had made a Shabbat wish that would come true, even though she didn’t yet know it.
Fast forward to our first foursome Shabbat, and as we are sitting down to dinner, our daughter leans into me, and whispers, “You were my Shabbat wish.” Then it was my turn to cry.
Our family bakes challah because it gives us time to pause and remember that we love each other, we need to make time for each other in our busy lives, and that braided together we make up a sweet, healthy, [ful]filling concoction that has been created purely by love.
Do you want to make your own Love Challah?
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon of honey
1 pack of active dry yeast
2 eggs (one for dough, one for egg wash)
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 tablespoon of salt
1 1/4 cups of whole wheat flour
2 1/2 cups of white four (as needed)
1/4 cup of honey (additionally)
1/4 cup of Splenda
Honey to taste
- In a small bowl, mix warm water, yeast, and 1 tablespoon of honey. Let proof.
- In a large bowl mix 1 egg, olive oil, salt, 1/4 cup of honey, and Splenda.
- Once combined, add in yeast mixture.
- Slowly stir in 1 1/4 cups of whole wheat flour then up to 2 1/2 cups of white flour, as you begin to knead the dough.
- Once combined, allow the dough to rise for at least 4 hours in its bowl, covered with a damp cloth.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees
- Once the dough is risen, knead again, separate it into three parts, and roll each part until it is about 10 inches in length, on a clean, floured surface.
- Cover the braided loaf with your egg wash, then drizzle with additional honey.
- Bake for 30 minutes.
- Enjoy your love challah!