One of the best parts of going to Bunny's preschool on Fridays to celebrate Shabbat with her class is the smell of freshly-baked challah which pervades the entire school.
This Friday she didn't have school and she was very upset that she wouldn't be able to observe Shabbat with her class. I told her that we could have our own Shabbat at home, and that we could bake some challah together. "But we don't have a kiddush cup," she pointed out. True, but we're not Jewish, either. (I didn't tell her that.)
Bunny school has taught me so much about Jewish religion, customs, and culture. I've always been drawn to this culture (if that's the right word) for some reason, and it makes me happy that Bunny is there at that school. We made our challah, said some of the blessings, and sang "Shabbat is here."
The challah recipe I used is the one that her school uses. Here it is.
RECIPE FOR FOUR CHALLAHS
They make challah in bulk at school. I halved the recipe and we made three smallish loaves: one plain, one chocolate chip, one with cranberries and cinnamon sugar.
Also, this challah is not sweet so you can use it for savory as well as sweet sandwiches. If you want a sweeter bread, increase the sugar to taste.
Add apples, raisins, chocolate chips, etc to this mixture to "make delicious."
In a medium bowl, mix together 3 tbsp. dry yeast,2/3 cup of warm (not hot) water, and 2 tbsp. sugar or honey. Set aside and let the yeast do its thing.
In a large bowl, add 1 cup oil, 2 tsps. salt, 2 tbsp. honey, and 2 cups of boiling water to dissolve all the ingredients. Then add 1 cup of cold water.
Beat six eggs into the oil water mixture.
Add yeast mixture and up to 14 cups of flour (use as much as needed and add more if too sticky.)
Knead the dough until smooth and elastic. If possible, let to rise in a warm place.
Make 12 long "snakes." Braid 3 together to form challah. Put onto greased cookie sheet. Brush top of challahs with an egg wash for shine.
Bake 40 minutes in a 375º oven. Let cool on wire rack.
[photo credit of plain and chocolate chip challah: Stefania Pomponi Butler]