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Can this be true?

Eek!  I’ve gotten sucked in by a Hebrew-Christian (aka Messianic) website!  I was originally searching for Shabbat Party songs and found online copies of an old magazine (no links, sorry!)… and also this fascinating challah recipe, loosely extracted from a PDF.  Haven’t found anything quite like it online.

Quick Knead Challah

Sabbath Bread

Makes two 2-lb. loaves or four 1-lb. loaves

Thursday afternoon or evening:

In a mixing bowl, combine:

  • 3 cups warm water
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 5 t salt

Whisk together and add enough whole wheat flour to form a soft dough, scraping the bowl and folding the dough over with a large spoon to blend in all the flour.  Cover and leave to sit at room temperature overnight.

STILL Thursday afternoon or evening:

Next, put 5 eggs into a small bowl.  Whisk together with enough whole wheat flour to make a soft dough.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Late Friday morning:  (frankly, that’s a little control-freakish… I mean, who cares if it’s LATE or early on Friday morning?)

Take egg mixture out of the fridge and allow to come to room temperature OR if you want it to warm up faster, place it in an oven that has been warmed to 170 degrees and turned off.  Leave it in the oven for about a half hour.

On Friday afternoon:

  1. Dissolve 3 T active dry yeast in 1/2 cup warm water.  Whisk in enough flour to make a soft dough.
  2. Turn last night’s sponge and egg mixture out together onto a well floured counter.  Top with yeast mixture.  Coat well with flour and knead until well combined, using a dough scraper and flour to keep the dough from sticking to the counter.  Kneading will take about 3-5 minutes.  Add flour as needed until the dough holds its shape but is not dry.
  3. Cover and leave in a warm place to rise for about 1 to 1-½  hours.
  4. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead again for about 5 minutes.  Dough should be smooth and stretchy.

(instructions omitted for portioning & forming the challahs)

So… other than this publication’s iffy assertion that challah is served with salt because Jesus mentioned salt (okay!), I’m wondering if this recipe could possibly work…

I have so many questions I’d ask this offensive, faceless, kinda-defunct website, if only I could!

  • Olive oil?  Really?
  • A yeastless sponge (though I like the idea of leaving it at room temperature)? 
  • An egg “sponge” left overnight in the fridge to… do what, exactly? 
  • Wouldn’t olive oil impede anything the sponge is trying to do? 
  • Without yeast, isn’t it really just a super-long autolyse, not a sponge at all?  But if it’s an autolyse, why is there salt?
  • Is the water necessary if I use instant yeast? 
  • Only 3-5 minutes’ kneading before bulk fermentation? 
  • Kneading for 5 minutes right before forming the challahs?

Finally, I certainly wouldn’t use all whole-wheat as the original suggests.  Maybe half? Maybe some spelt (don’t think I have any left, though…)?

I’m intrigued.  The honey intrigues me.  The olive oil intrigues me.  The long sponge stage intrigues me.  Maybe I’ll try it… but maybe I’ll ask the smart folks at The Fresh Loaf first just to be sure it’ll work – and be worth the effort.

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