Food Friday – Sweet Camp Ramah Challah

I’ve been holding onto this recipe since 1983 when we made it at Camp Ramah in Massachusetts. About a month ago, my cousin Fay was asking for a challah recipe on Facebook. I sent this to her and realized I ought to make it myself. So I finally bought the ingredients I needed and soon started baking.

My whole house smelled like challah after the ingredients were mixed, the baking just spread the smell further.

I forgot to adjust for high altitude until I was setting the oven, so the only change I made was to raise the baking temperature 25 degrees. Altering the ingredients, shortening the rising time, and rising then punching down one extra time were other suggestions.

I haven’t had challah in a long time, but I think I’ve had enough in my lifetime to remember. The texture of the bread inside is perfect, but the outside is a little bit off from the challahs I used to know. I don’t know how to describe the difference, but it’s really good. “Store bought” challahs sometimes had an even harder shell that I didn’t like, whereas this recipe produced just enough hardness to hold it all together. The cinnamon in the mixture brushed on at the end left a bit of a speckled look to it also, but that’s not a problem.

The only alteration that I made was using sucralose instead of sugar. (Usually sold as Splenda, but I bought the store brand.) Hey, cut back on the calories wherever you can, right? (Does anyone have a recommendation for a lower calorie flour?)

I had some trouble with the braiding in that after the dough had risen, it didn’t want to roll well or “merge” at the ends. Was I supposed to knead it again after letting it rise to make it doughy again for rolling? You can see in the picture taken right before they went into the oven that the ends already weren’t holding together.

Challah, Before Baking

The end on the left completely broke apart while baking. Also, they were a bit close and had baked together slightly in the middle.

The finished product looked like this for about a minute:

Challah, After Baking

Then I ate some. And it tasted wonderful.

Sweet Camp Ramah Challah

1/2 cup oil
2 tsp salt
3 cup sugar
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup cold water
4 eggs
2 packages dry yeast
7 cups flour

1 egg
1 Tbsp sugar

1. Combine first six ingredients in order.
2. Add yeast in quickly and let it dissolve.
3. Add flour one cup at a time, mixing them very well.
4. When the dough is ready (not sticky), knead it well.
5. Let the dough rise for about two hours, punch it down, and let it rise for an hour.
6. Roll the dough and braid it.
7. Beat one egg, a Tbsp sugar, and some cinnamon; coat top of challah with egg mixture.
8. Bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes.