Cooking With Kids
Making Challah Bread With Molly’s Best
- Molly Rieger
- Interview By
- Phoebe de Croisset
How do you and your family celebrate Rosh Hashana? What does the holiday mean for you, and how has it changed now that you have children?
Jewish traditions have definitely started to mean more now that I have children. I now find joy in coming up with ways to explain and celebrate Jewish traditions and instill pride in our religion. Maxie goes to a Jewish preschool, so there are times she knows more about Jewish holidays than I do! This year we will be in the Hamptons for Rosh Hashana so we’ll go to services there and I am planning a fun dinner and bonfire on the beach! Rosh Hashana is all about celebrating the year to come and starting fresh. We all have a lot to celebrate and be grateful for!
Tell us about this challah bread!
During COVID, I got really into making challah every week. I found it therapeutic and something fun for Maxie and me to do together. I have tried a few different recipes, but I most often use a version of the Goop Challah recipe. I also follow @mandyliciouschallah for inspiration for different flavors and fillings. Once you know the right feeling and texture of the dough, you'll be a pro!
How much do you involve Maxie with food and food prep? Seems like she's such a good eater!
I try to include Maxie as much as possible, even though it usually means more mess. I try to embrace the mess and use baking and cooking as an opportunity to teach. We talk about numbers, textures, measurements, different tastes, and even explore new adjectives to explain flavors or smells. She has been a very picky eater in the past year, but she is coming around the corner now that I have set boundaries and stopped being a short-order cook.
For anyone at home, let your child participate in measuring the ingredients, adding them all to the bowl, and mixing the dough together. Adding different ingredients like chocolate chips, raisins, poppy seeds, or anything you are in the mood for can be fun for kids. I will sometimes break off a small amount of dough to let her make her own challah which she takes pride in!
Molly’s Best Challah Recipe
1 package active dry yeast
1/2 cup + about 1/4 cup warm water
3 cups all-purpose flour or bread flour + extra as needed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup olive oil
1 beaten egg + 1 egg to brush the outside
- Mix together 1 tablespoon sugar, dry yeast package, and 1/2 cup of warm water in a medium bowl. Mix well, cover with a dishtowel, and set aside to proof.
- In a large bowl, whisk together 3 cups flour, remaining sugar, and kosher salt.
- Make a well in the center and pour in the oil, 1 beaten egg, the remaining 1/4 cup warm water, and the yeast mixture. Use your hands to mix into a wet ball, then pour onto a floured board.
- Knead the mixture for 10 minutes or so, adding more flour as needed. I end up adding about 1/3 cup a couple of tablespoons at a time until the dough is satiny and elastic. It shouldn't be sticky.
- Transfer the dough to a large, olive-oil-greased mixing bowl and cover with a dishtowel. Place in a warm spot and let rest for 1½ hours.
- Punch down the dough with your fist, cover again, and let rest for another hour.
- Turn the dough out onto a board and shape it into 3 even logs (about 12 inches long and 2 inches wide). Then, starting at the top, braid the challah into 2 loaves, tucking the ends underneath the loaf.
- Transfer to 2 parchment-lined baking sheets, cover with dish towels and let it rest 1 more hour.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Brush each loaf with egg and bake in the oven for 26-30 minutes, depending on how doughy you prefer. The crust should be golden and firm to the touch.