Black and White Seeded Round Challah
- September 22, 2022
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This gorgeous Black and White Seeded Round challah is an absolute must for the Rosh Hashana table, to begin the Yom Kippur Break Fast or for any gathering. It is stunning, incredibly tasty and will delight your guests. For sure!
I’m not going to lie that this challah takes just a bit of extra work than a regular braided challah, but the results are worth it, don’t you think?
It’s traditional to serve a round challah on Erev Rosh Hashana (the night before Rosh Hashana begins). There are many reasons but a couple that I love are as follows:
- The round challahs have no end, symbolizing (and actualizing) our wish for a year in which life and blessings continue without end.
- The round shape is a reflection of the continuing cycle of years and seasons.
- A round challah represents a crown, reminding us of the sovereignty of G-d.
- At this time of year, when our thoughts turn to repentance and resolutions of self-improvement, the round challah reminds us that the opportunity for repentance is never-ending.
I like to use my favorite challah recipe to make this, but you can really use any recipe that you prefer. My recipe has a touch of sweetness to it along with a pale yellow color, thanks to the egg.
To start making this, you have to “proof” the yeast, which means getting it foamy by combining the dry yeast with a bit of sugar and a cup of warm water. Make sure the water is slightly hotter than lukewarm (pour a bit on the inside of your wrist to be able to tell). The sugar and warm water will activate the yeast and start it foaming up.
With the help of my stand mixer, I combine the flour, sugar, salt, egg and vegetable oil. To that, I add the proofed yeast. Using the dough hook, knead the dough for 7-8 minutes. If the dough is too wet or sticky, add a bit more flour (a tablespoon at a time) until it reaches a smooth texture.
At this point, I like to hand-knead the dough on a floured surface for a minute or so until it is smooth and satiny. Put the dough into an oiled bowl and turn the dough over so that the dough is coated in the oil. Now, let it rise for an hour or until it is doubled in size. Then, punch down the dough (yes, just like it sounds, punch it to deflate it).
While the dough is rising, make the egg wash and place the poppy and sesame seeds in two small sheet pans.
Weigh the dough and then divide that number by 12 (you will need 12 pieces to make this design). It’s important that this is accurate so I highly suggest using a digital scale and setting it to grams, as this is most accurate.
Roll the dough into a long cylinder and divide it into 12 pieces. Place each one on the scale and if you need to add or subtract some dough from the piece, go ahead until all of the pieces are the same size.
Roll each piece of dough into a round ball and now we are going to shape them into dumplings.
Using one piece of dough at a time, flatten it with the palm of your hand into an oval shape. Bring the top of the oval to the middle and press down. Bring the bottom up over the first fold and press down in the middle.
Finally, holding both short ends, put some tension on the dumpling by stretching it out while folding the top and bottom and pressing together in the middle. Place the dumpling on a sheet pan, repeat with the remaining dough balls, and cover the dumplings and let them sit under a clean dishtowel for 10 minutes.
After the dumplings have rested, roll each one into a 13-inch strand. Brush each strand with the egg wash and coat 4 with poppy seeds and 8 with sesame seeds. Now arrange them side by side, with 2 sesame strands on the outside and a poppyseed strand in the middle, in 4 groupings.
Lift one grouping and lay it over two other groupings, 90 degrees from the original position.
Repeat with a second grouping. Now, lattice the groupings as shown in the photo below.
Take the bottom right grouping and lift it over the left grouping and continue to do that on the other three sides. Then tuck any loose strands under the challah to secure them in place. For more details, please watch this video.
I like to bake my challah in a cast-iron skillet to ensure that the challah keeps its shape, but you can also bake it on a sheet pan.
Let the dough sit for 30-45 minutes at room temperature. Bake the challah at 375°F for 35-40 minutes or until the challah is nicely browned. Let it cool for a few minutes and then remove from skillet or sheet pan and let it cool on a wire rack.
Serve this with honey, butter, jam or eat it plain! Enjoy!
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Black and White Seeded Round Challah
Makes: 10 servings
Prep Time: 1 hour
Bake Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour & 40 minutes plus rise time of 1 hour & 45 minutes
- 1 package active yeast
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 cup warm water (a little hotter than lukewarm)
- 3 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tsp Kosher salt
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp water
- 2 cups sesame seeds
- 1 cup poppy seeds
Combine yeast, sugar and water. Let sit for 5 minutes until yeast mixture becomes foamy.
In bowl of stand mixer, combine flour, sugar, salt, egg and oil. Add yeast mixture. Using dough hook, beat for 8 minutes on medium speed. Gather dough into ball; knead on floured work surface until smooth and satiny, about one minute. Place dough in greased bowl, turning to coat all sides with oil. Cover with damp towel and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size. Punch dough down.
While dough is rising, lightly beat 1 egg and then strain egg through a small strainer and add 1 tablespoon water. Pour poppy seeds onto a small sheet pan. Pour sesame seeds onto a second sheet pan.
Remove dough from bowl onto an unfloured work surface. Weigh dough (in grams) and using a calculator, divide total weight by 12. Roll dough into a rough cylinder shape and divide dough into 12 roughly equal pieces. Check the weight of each piece and add or subtract dough as necessary so that all 12 pieces are the same weight. Precision is important for the shape we are creating.
Using a circular motion with the palm of your hand, gently roll each piece of dough on a non-floured counter to create a ball shape.
Once all 12 pieces are rolled into balls, it’s time to shape them into a dumpling shape. Take one ball and lightly flatten it into an oval shape with your palm. Pull the upper dough rim up and press it down right in the middle of the dough with your fingers. Pull the lower dough rim up and press it down to the middle of the dough to create a seam. Using both hands, fold the two long ends toward the middle with as much tension as possible and seal the seam along the entire length to the dough ends. You will have a firm dumpling with a seam down the middle. This shaping method gives the dough a uniform inner structure. Cover dumplings with a clean kitchen towel and let rest for 10 minutes.
Once dumplings have rested, roll each one into a 13-inch strand. Roll with both hands, starting from the middle, going out towards the end, tapering the ends slightly. Lay the strands on a parchment lined baking sheet.
Brush each strand with beaten egg and coat 4 strands in the poppy seeds and 8 strands in the sesame seeds. Braid bread, as shown in the video in my blog post, and arrange on parchment lined baking sheet. Let dough sit at room temperature for about 30-45 minutes. If your kitchen is warm, 30 minutes will be fine, a cooler kitchen might need about 45 minutes for the second rise.
Preheat oven to 375°F while dough is rising. Bake challah for 35-40 minutes, until an instant read thermometer, inserted into the center of the bread registers 195°F -200°F.
Loosely based on a recipe from Salt & Serenity