Challah, Our New Family Tradition

It has been said that when I put my mind to something, I resemble a dog on a bone (figuratively, I hope!). I ponder, I mull, I research, and of course, I turn to social media for advice. About a week before our son was due home from residential treatment, I wanted to come up with some new ways for us to spend time together and to develop traditions in the kitchen. He is a major holiday lover, so I decided that there wouldn’t be anything better than a weekly celebration that would bring our family together – Shabbat.
And of course, with Shabbat comes challah, a beautiful golden braided bread.

Eons ago when my kids were tiny, I taught cooking classes at our local JCC, where they attended preschool. I never actually made challah with my students because that was an activity they did weekly with their teachers. So, 10 years later, I was ready to bake my first batch. But what recipe should I use? I turned to the internet, looking for recipes on some of my most trusted blogs and asked friends. After comparing several recipes, I settled on the challah recipe from Smitten Kitchen.

It made two huge glorious loaves, although my braiding technique could clearly use a little refinement. We enjoyed challah with dinner on Friday and were so caught up in the bread itself that we completely forgot about Shabbat.

Homemade Challah

After dinner we still had more than a loaf of challah remaining – but have no fear! It was put to good use. We used it to make French toast on Saturday and Sunday and for amazing grilled cheese sandwiches…

Challah Grilled Cheese

And on Sunday night, we toasted up the remaining slices and then pulsed them in the food processor to make homemade breadcrumbs that we used to dredge our chicken breasts.

Chicken breasts dredged in challah bread crumbs

While it was fun to play in the kitchen with our giant batch of challah, I think that I will tweak the recipe this week so that it makes only one loaf. Some people prefer to make large batches every few weeks and freeze the leftovers. But If I can fit it into my schedule, I think we would enjoy the weekly tradition of kneading, braiding and smelling a fresh loaf every week.

If you have a favorite challah recipe or food tradition, please share it (or a link to it) in the comments below.

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