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Zeesy Grossbaum demonstrates braiding the challah dough. Photos by Beth Janoff Chananie

The Women’s Circle of Chabad of Paramus recently held a challah baking workshop – “Knead a Break?”- at a private home in Paramus. Along with learning to make the dough, Zeesy Grossbaum, the group’s leader, offered kabbalistic insights and some chasidic minhagim (customs) surrounding the meaningful celebration of making challah. In addition, Grossbaum brought ropes, tied in bunches of six, to practice braiding.

It was definitely a unique experience working with five pounds of flour. I braided a loaf to bake and eat at our Shabbat table and braided the remaining dough and froze it in small loaves. We were instructed to take out the frozen dough at a later date, let it come to room temperature, and then bake. The dough can also be frozen flat.

Here’s the recipe we used.

Challah

Zeesy Grossbaum

6 cups warm water
4 tablespoons yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
5 pounds flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 tablespoons salt
2 eggs plus 2 yolks
1/2 cup oil

Set yeast to breathe with sugar and water. Combine dry ingredients in large bowl and make a well in the center. Pour wet ingredients in the well and knead into dough. Oil generously on both sides, cover, and set to rise. After 1 hour, shape the loaves. Allow to rise again for 45 minutes. Brush with beaten egg and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, or until golden brown.

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Beth Chananie’s finished Shabbat challah.