Here’s how I know that the Almighty has a sense of humor. On the Shabbos after Passover, just when you think you may never want to see the inside of a kitchen again, there is a particular custom to bake schlissel challah. For those whose Yiddish is a little rusty, schlissel means key – and baking a key inside the challah is meant to be a propitious sign for livelihood. That’s the humor. We all want a decent livelihood so how can we ignore this opportunity? Here’s one of our favorite challah recipes to make your forced return to the kitchen especially delicious. If this doesn’t open up the gates of income, I don’t know what will!
Perfect Challah with Sweet Crumble Topping
This is the most delicious challah ever – promise. The only “complaint” expressed is about starting the meal with dessert!
4 teaspoons active dry yeast
4 cups warm water
2 cups sugar
2 cups oil
2 tablespoons salt
12-14 cups bread flour (hi-gluten flour)
In a large bowl pour water over yeast. As it is proofing (bubbling), add sugar. After yeast has tripled in size and is no longer bubbling (about 5 to 10 minutes), add oil, eggs and salt. Whisk everything together. Then begin stirring in flour, 3-4 cups at a time. Continue until it is no longer possible to stir in anymore. Take dough out of the bowl and on a clean work surface, knead dough until it is elastic, about 5 minutes. If it is sticky, add more flour. Sprinkle oil around bowl and roll dough in oil to keep it moist. Cover with a damp towel and let it rise for 2 hours in a warm place. Punch dough down, braid and place in greased pans. Cover again and let braided challahs rise for another hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle loaves with streusel topping. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes.
Optional Streusel Topping:
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
½ cup margarine, cut into pieces (alternatively, you can use ½ canola oil)
Mix sugar, flour, and margarine with fork or in food processor to form a crumble. Sprinkle on top of challah before baking. (I usually double it and just keep remainder in the freezer to use week after week)