May 17, 2024
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May 17, 2024
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The Jewish Link Challah Competition Results Are In!

By Hannah Kirsch

Wow! What a summer of baking it has been! After nearly six weeks of baking delicious challah using each and every recipe submitted by our readers, The Jewish Link staff has finally voted on a winner. We greatly appreciate the tremendous excitement generated by this contest—we had a blast baking and tasting all of the many recipes we received from community members far and wide. And now, the moment you have all been waiting for! The winner of the Jewish Link Challah Recipe Competition is… Yocheved Lindenbaum. Mazal tov!!!

The challah sampling table … delicious!

Over these past several weeks, summer intern Shira Adler and I have been excitedly baking each challah recipe. Every Shabbos, our families and friends have enjoyed the fruits of our labor by being able to taste the different delicious challahs and offer their opinions. After weeding out a few, we brought our best ones to the office this past Monday for the whole group to try. Each staff person received two tickets, and after trying them all—aside from feeling overstuffed from the overabundance of carbs we had just consumed—we each voted for our top two.

There were many delicious challahs on the table, and after tasting a few, “they all seem to taste the same,” said Daniel Jaffe, one of our summer interns, admittedly an overall challah lover.

During the big tasting, we had to pause periodically to pull out some lemonade from the office fridge as a palate cleanser and refresher. We, as newfound professional challah tasters, insisted on a clean slate for each one we tasted, giving every challah the chance to shine.

Of the winner’s challah, one staff member noted that “if I bought this challah in the bakery, I’d be happy.” The majority of the office staff could not stop gushing about Lindenbaum’s challah’s delicious taste and moist texture. One person even noted that “this is what challah is supposed to taste like.”

The second-place challah was tied between two recipes, Leora Diamond’s and Shira Lewis’. Diamond’s had a more doughy and sweet result, which many staff members enjoyed, while Lewis’ was more bread-like and an overall crowd pleaser.

Below you will find Yocheved Lindenbaum’s homemade recipe. I know you will enjoy it, as we did:



3 Tablespoons yeast (or 2 cakes fresh yeast)

1 Tablespoon “bread improver” (now sold at Grand and Essex)

4 cups warm water

1 teaspoon sugar

Proof the yeast:

In a medium-sized bowl, pour in the water (not too hot, more lukewarm), add 1 tsp. sugar, yeast and bread improver. Wait until bubbly

2 cups King Arthur white whole wheat flour

9-10 cups bread flour (high gluten, my favorite brand is Dependable)

1 cup sugar

In a large bowl of mixer (or can be mixed by hand), put in four cups of flour, all sugar and yeast mixture. Mix together.

Add one cup of flour at a time, until you get to cup number seven or eight.

2 eggs beaten

1 cup oil

2 tablespoons salt

Add eggs to a cup of oil in a cup.

Add half of this mixture to the flour mixture. Blend well. Add the rest of the mixture.

After the eggs are mostly incorporated, add two tablespoons salt. Keep adding flour until it all comes together.

Knead for five minutes in the mixer or a bit longer if kneading by hand. Dough should feel like your earlobe.

Add flour a little at a time if the mixture is too wet, or some water if it is too dry.

Put dough in an oiled bowl. Flip it over so all sides are oiled.

Cover with either plastic wrap or a wet kitchen towel. Let rise for two hours. Punch down every 20 minutes. (Bread proof setting on ovens works nicely.)

After the dough has risen, poke with your finger. The depression should remain if the dough is ready.

This is the point where one is mafrish challah, with a bracha.

Divide dough into the number of challot you want. This can yield six medium to large challot.

Prepare pans or baking sheets. Spray with Pam and sprinkle a little bit of cornmeal or oats. (You can also use parchment paper or a silpat and skip the Pam)

Prepare glaze using one to two eggs with a tablespoon of water per egg and a teaspoon of sugar. Mix well. Brush each challah, one at a time, and then brush them again.

Let rise for 45 minutes. Do the poke test again. If necessary, let dough rise for up to another 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350. Put challot into the oven and bake for 15 minutes.

Hannah Kirsch is the summer intern coordinator at The Jewish Link and a rising senior at Binghamton University.

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