Stick to the recipe, and you're "Goldin."
That's hows Teaneck's Rivky Goldin says she learned.
Baking has always been something the local mom has gravitated to.
So when she found out that seven generations of bakers in her family had come before her, she wasn't so surprised.
The Montreal native says she caught the baking bug when she was a teen, cooking up a storm for Sukkot -- the Jewish harvest holiday -- when her mom asked her to take care of the desserts.
"I was given a cookbook and baking ingredients and was told to follow the recipe -- and follow I did," said Goldin, who runs the Teaneck Chabad House and other programs for Jewish teens in the area.
"Baking is a science and directions need to be followed to the tee. That's the key."
And so, she says, follow she does.
Making challah is one of the three fundamental mitzvot (or commandments) entrusted to every Jewish woman, Goldin explained. The others are lighting Sabbath candles and family purity.
"When each of these mitzvoth is performed it is an auspicious time for personal prayer," the local mom said. "One can pour her heart out to the Almighty to beseech for His mercy, etc."
The mitzvah of challah was highly cherished by Goldin's mother.
Goldin's journey began when she got married.
"My first attempt at making challah was a complete fail," she said. "A hard lump of dough was staring at me in the face and I thought, 'Okay, this just isn't for me.'"
But Goldin felt motivated to try again. A few attempts were all it took before her challah started looking fluffy and beautiful.
"I’ve been happily baking challah since," Goldin said.
Rivky's Challah Recipe
- 5 lbs high-gluten bread flour (King Arthur is a great choice)
- 3 Tablespoons of dry yeast
- 1 and ½ cups sugar
- 5 cups warm water
- 3 eggs
- ½ cup oil
- 2 Tablespoons pink Himalayan salt or sea salt
1. Place yeast, sugar and water in a large mixing bowl. Allow to sit for a few minutes until foamy. Add 6 cups of flour and mix to create a paste.
2. Add eggs, oil and salt.
3. Add the rest of the flour slowly and knead until the dough comes together.
4. Let dough rest for 3 minutes. Knead a few more minutes.
5. Add 2 Tablespoons of oil and knead an additional minute.
6. Cover with a damp kitchen towel or plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in size. About 1 ½ - 2 hours.
7. Braid and allow to rise for a half hour. Preheat oven 375 degrees.
8. Brush with beaten egg and top with desired toppings.
9. Bake for 35 minutes or until a nice golden brown.
Goldin explained it is important to bake round challahs on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year:
There are different methods to achieve a round look. A simple strand twirled around will make a beautiful challah. Round represents the yearly cycle as well as a crown which represents the fact that we are crowning G-d as King on Rosh Hashanah.
Following the sweet theme:
- Add raisins, chocolate chips or diced apples into your challah dough.
- Top your challah with streusel, cinnamon and sugar or vanilla sugar.
- Tip #1: Add some honey to your egg wash to achieve a deep golden color.
- Tip #2: You may not need the whole bag of flour. (It really depends on weather, humidity)
- Tip #3: The pink Himalayan salt helps with rising.
Recite this blessing:
Transliteration : Ba-ruch A-tah A-do-noi Elo-heinu me-lech ha- o-lam A-sher Kid-sha-nu B’mitz-vo-tav V’tzi-va-nu L’haf-rish Chal-lah.
Translation : Blessed are You. L-rd our G-d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to separate challah.
- Separate a small piece of dough about 1 ounce and say “This is Challah.”
- Burn the challah by wrapping it in a piece of foil and placing it in the broiler. (Make sure there isn’t other food in the oven at the same time).
In temple times, anyone who baked bread was obligated to give a portion of their dough to the kohanim (priests) as part of their salary. Today, there is no temple in Jerusalem, but this practice is still kept.
Setting a piece aside for G-d also reminds us that He sustains every living thing, our bodies, and our souls and provides us with our sustenance.
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