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    Homemade Challah Recipe – A Traditional Delight

    Challah, a staple in both Polish and Jewish cuisines, holds a special place on the table. In Polish kitchens, it’s sweet; in Jewish, slightly salty, fluffy, and braided.

    Challah, also known as “plecionka” or “kukiełka” in some regions of Poland, transcends mere bread; it’s a ritualistic emblem for Jews, especially Ashkenazim, enjoyed during Shabbat and holidays.


    Ingredients:

    • For the dough:
      • 250 ml lukewarm milk
      • 70 g sugar
      • 20 g fresh yeast (or 7 g instant yeast)
      • 1 medium-sized egg, at room temperature
      • 500 g all-purpose or bread flour
      • 60 g butter, at room temperature
      • a pinch of salt
      • grated zest of orange or lemon (optional)
    • For the crumble:
      • 60 g all-purpose flour
      • 40 g butter
      • 30 g sugar
    • Additional:
      • 1 egg

    Instructions:

    1. Prepare the dough: Mix lukewarm milk with 1 tablespoon of sugar, crumbled yeast, and about 4 tablespoons of flour. Cover with a cloth and let it rise in a warm place for about 10-15 minutes.
    2. In a large bowl, combine the remaining flour, sugar, and salt. Add the egg, softened butter, risen yeast mixture, and optional citrus zest. Knead the dough, preferably using a mixer or stand mixer with a dough hook, for at least 3 minutes.
    3. Cover the bowl with the dough with a cloth and let it rise in a warm place for about 1 hour, until it doubles in size.
    4. Meanwhile, prepare the crumble: Mix all the crumble ingredients together and refrigerate until needed.
    5. Knead the risen dough briefly. Divide it into 3 equal parts and shape each into a long rope about the length of the baking tray (approximately 47-50 cm).
    6. Line a large baking tray with parchment paper. Place the ropes of dough onto the tray and braid them together. Seal the ends of the braid and tuck them under the loaf. (Alternatively, braid the challah on a floured surface and transfer it onto the prepared baking tray).
    7. Cover the challah with a cloth and let it rise for about 30 minutes.
    8. Brush the risen challah with beaten egg and sprinkle the crumble on top. (Press the crumble gently onto the sides of the challah as well).
    9. Bake in a preheated oven at 180°C (350°F), with both top and bottom heat, for about 35 minutes or until the challah is nicely golden brown. Allow to cool before slicing.

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