As much as I love experimenting with exciting flavors for the New Year, I also loving making tried-and-true classics like a cinnamon and honey laced challah.
The exciting part about this challah is actually its basket-weave design. The first time I even heard about such a unique challah was from a former co-worker, Chayie. As she described the challah, my mouth watered but I couldn’t quite figure out how such a braid might work. But Chayie was determined to teach me how to master this technique. She brought a container of play-doh to work and taught me how to make this beautiful basket-weave challah using play-doh right at my desk. I will never forget her patience and kindness, and so each year as I braid my rounded challahs, I recall this sweet memory.
I can’t think of a better reflection to carry with me each Rosh Hashanah.
Step-by-step shaping instructions:
1. Lay three strands vertically. Take one of the remaining strands of dough and place horizontally over the first vertical strand, under the second vertical strand and back over the third vertical strand.
2. Make a traditional braid using the three strands and pinch at the bottom. Fold each braid under the basket, gently pushing upwards as you tuck under.
3. Beat egg yolks with 1 teaspoon water. Brush liberally over challah. Mix sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle evenly on top.
For many people, Rosh Hashanah evokes a certain kind of warmth and anticipation. The season sings with new beginnings, gathering with family and preparing delicious dinners.
For me the Jewish New Year is an exciting time to experiment and bring new sweet flavors to my family and friends and I love finding inspiration all around me. This summer I was lucky enough to find myself in Israel for the month of July working, traveling and eating.
Being in Israel always inspires my cooking and food consumption, and this most recent trip was no exception. I watched Israeli moms feed their kids ears of corn as a snack on the beach; met a young Israeli who started a Malabi bar right off the Carmel market; and tasted my first ever stuffed croissant in the heart of Tel Aviv.
I also had the privilege to spend time once again with Inbal Baum of Delicious Israel, which specializes in unique food tours and eating experiences throughout Israel. I had Rosh Hoshanah challah on the brain as we meandered through the alleyways of the Carmel market, scouting out unique, Israeli flavors at every turn. Rose water. Spicy chunks of cinnamon. Halva in every flavor. Succulent dates. And my culinary juices started flowing. As Inbal and I kept walking through the market she turned to me, eyes bright with possibility and ex-claimed “silan!” And the idea seemed so obvious. Silan, which is date honey, would be the perfect ingredient to include in a New Year-inspired challah.
We picked up some silan, tahini and cardamom and walked back to Inbal’s beautiful apartment in South Tel Aviv to start experimenting. We tried making this challah several ways: with and without tahini, with silan in the dough and with chunks of halva baked inside. But in the end the simple combination of sweet challah dough laced with ground cardamom and stuffed with silan and tahini was the winner.
Step-by-step shaping instructions:
1. Spread an even layer of the tahini-silan mixture all over the rolled-out dough
2.Working quickly, start rolling up the dough toward you.
3. Create a pinwheel shaped-challah by snaking the dough around and around in a circle.
Note: Add chopped dates to the filling for a play on the classic raisin challah.
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