Making Bread

September 9, 2022

“A threefold cord is not quickly broken.” ~ Ecclesiastes 4:12

For some reason, a few months ago I got hankering for fresh challah bread. Some twenty-five years ago I worked as a chaplain at St. Joseph’s Hospital, in Milwaukee, WI. It was an urban hospital located near an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood. Every Friday, the women of the congregation baked challah and sold it in the hospital lobby. It was beautiful and delicious. If I was going to get some, I’d need to make it myself.

So, armed with a New York Times Cooking recipe I found on Google, My Favorite Challah, and my KitchenAid stand mixer I set about giving it a try. Making the dough was easy. The first two risings were a snap. Then came the challenging part, dividing the dough in half and braiding six strands into loaves. braids before brushing with a beaten egg to rise again.

I never braided my hair as a child unless a ponytail counts. We had two sons, no braiding required. Adding to the challenge were the braiding instructions, written for right-handed person (I’m a leftie), and incredibly hard to follow. I even watched YouTube videos. My braids were lacking, but what they lacked in looks didn’t affect the taste. It was delicious, even if strands to the end looked more like trussed turkey legs that were trying to escape

I’ve made a batch about once a month since then but still couldn’t get the technique right. And no one I asked could help me. So armed with play dough, I worked my way through several on-line methods until I found one that I could do. Below is one of the loafs of dough before being brushed with the egg and rising.

Braided Challah Dough

The word challah originally meant only a small portion of dough that has been put in the oven when baking bread as a reminder of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. It has evolved into the twisted bread that immigrants brought to America from Europe. It is a reminder of struggles, destruction, division. Six fragments of dough, formed into strands and braided together, rising as something new. It took many errors and persistence to figure it out. Kind of like life.

A three-fold cord is not easily broken. ~ Anne

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1 thought on “Making Bread

  1. Your perseverance has not gone unnoticed. I believe we were fortunate to enjoy a loaf of that bread while staying at Muse. Who knew left-handed braiding could cause a problem?


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