Shabbat – A Special Moment in Time

Shabbat is a special time for me because it is about light, taste and touch. Light from the Shabbat candles, taste from the special foods that you prepare for your family and touch is the laying your hands on each other when you bless one another and your children.

I grew up in a small town in Alabama and there were hardly any single Jewish men for me to go out with. I never dated Jewish men until I was in my late twenties and early thirties. And then, I moved to Israel and met my husband. The first time we celebrated Shabbat together tears welled up in my eyes because I realized that this is what I was always looking for, someone to spend Shabbat with me who understands the emotions behind this special moment in time.

My husband and I take turns preparing Shabbat dinner. We both like to experiment with different herbs, spices, fruits and sauces.

Last Friday, my husband made roasted chicken and stuffed it with oranges and sprinkled orange juice, grated orange rind, rosemary, thyme and garlic on the chicken. He then placed carrots, sweet potato slices and quartered white potatoes around the chicken and roasted it the oven.

Sometimes I stuff the chicken with rice, couscous or bulgar and add dried cherries or apricots or figs, orange quarters, fresh ginger and lemons or put pomegranate molasses on the chicken. It just depends on my mood.

I make the challah that my father taught me how to bake. He is an excellent cook and I owe most of my cooking skills to him. This is not a quick and dirty recipe, but it makes the most delicious, rich challah. It is a great bread to use for French toast.

This recipe is from The First Jewish Catalog: A Do-It-Yourself Kit. This is a cake-like challah. Great for the holidays or anytime.
Servings: 1 wedding size loaf, 2 large loaves, 3 medium loaves or 4 small loaves
  • 2 c lukewarm water
  • 3 pkg or 3 tbsp. dry yeast or 1 cube 50g fresh yeast
  • 8 c or more unbleached flour
  • 1-1/2 c sugar
  • 1-1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 lb 224g butter or margarine
  • 4 beaten eggs
  • 1 beaten egg for glaze
  1. Variation: add golden raisins during first kneading. Reduce sugar by 1/2 cup.
  2. Mix water and yeast in a very large bowl. Add 3 c. flour and 1 c. sugar. Stir with a fork and let rise 30 minutes in a warm place.
  3. Meanwhile, put the remaining flour, sugar and salt in another bowl. Add margarine or butter and cut with a knife until mixture resembles coarse meal.
  4. At the end of 30 minutes, add 4 eggs to the yeast mixture and stir well (will decrease in volume).
  5. Add flour/margarine mixture to the yeast mixture and knead in the bowl. If sticky, add up to 2 more cups of flour.
  6. Knead well on floured board until smooth and elastic. Put in oiled bowl and cover with towel. Put in warm place and let rise 2 hours or until doubled.
  7. Punch down. Knead lightly for a minute or two.
  8. Divide into 1 to 4 parts depending on whether you want small, medium, large or wedding size loaves. Divide each part into 3 equal parts, roll into braids and braid, pinching ends. Place on an oiled or silicone-lined baking sheet(s). Cover and let rise in warm place as long as possible (3 - 5 hours).The longer you can let it rise without killing the yeast, the lighter it will be.
  9. When the bread has finished rising, brush with the egg glaze and bake at 350F (180C) for 50-55 minutes (1 wedding size loaf), 45-50 minutes (2 large loaves), 30-45 minutes (3 medium loaves) or 30 minutes (4 small loaves).
  10. This bread can be frozen for up to three months. Wrap in plastic wrap and heavy duty foil.
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Written by Baroness Tapuzina

Michelle Nordell (aka Baroness Tapuzina) was a foodie from the womb growing up in the House of Weird Vegetables, so named by a family friend because all of the unusual and exotic food cooked and eaten there. She loves to change recipes using herbs from her garden and spices from the spice shops she enjoys visiting.

11 thoughts on “Shabbat – A Special Moment in Time

  1. Hi Leanne,

    It depends on what type of challah you prefer. Some people do not like sweet challah. I don’t think reducing the sugar will create a problem in the quality of the bread. However, I wouldn’t change the amount of salt. It has to do with baking chemistry.

    My former Rabbi was a contributor to the First Jewish Catalog and in particularly the section with this challah recipe. This how my Dad started making this bread.


  2. I make that challah (or close) too, from the original Jewish catalog. I use the food processor to cut in the margarine or butter. I think I had to increase the salt and decrease the sugar from the original, as I recall.

  3. I enjoy making bread in general. The kneading helps get rid of my stress.

    It does seem like a lot of sugar, but it makes one wedding size, two large loaves, three medium or four small loaves.

    One wedding size loaf (the entire recipe) will serve 25 people. We cut the slices in half and it fed 50 people at our wedding.

  4. Don’t you just love making challah on Friday. For me it is an absolutely cathartic experience! My recipe does not have near this amount of sugar and I still use it the next day for French toast. I suspect as we say in America, that’s what makes horse races.

  5. We use Orange Juice to roast poultry and meat, all the time. Many years ago, my parents decided that if Orange flavor was good for a duck, it’d be good for a chicken as well. It became our gravy of choice.

    Now, to keep the sugar down, I usually use a half-orange juice and half stock mixture for a gravy.

    This dish looks like a really good modification of what we’ve been doing, and we plan to try it soon.

  6. Thank you so much for posting this recipe. This was the best challah we have ever had. The recipe makes so much, I made one loaf plain and one as a dessert bread with dried cranberries, dried blueberries, and white chocolate chips. Both were devoured by my family. This recipe is certainly a keeper.

    1. Hi Melissa,

      I am so happy you tried this recipe and liked it. It does make a lot and your dessert one sounds delicious.

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