Many have a custom of making a seudah challah for a simcha or the Purim seudah. You know that huge, watermelon-sized challah that you see in front of a bride and groom at a wedding? (I don’t mean the small round seedless varieties of watermelon we find nowadays. I mean the watermelons we had growing up that take two people to carry).
Back to the huge challah. There are some challenges in making it. How do you prevent something so big from deflating after it rises? How do you know when it’s cooked through on the inside if the outside is already brown? How do you braid it?
My friend, Esther Leah Ginsberg is the queen of seudah challahs. In the step-by-step photos below, she shares her tips and techniques so you can be a queen too this Purim.
Let’s go see how it’s done!
When making a seudah challah you need to use a dough that is not overly sweet or oily. I don’t use the same recipe for Seudah Challah as I do for my regular weekly challah.
2 Tbsp heaping salt
6 lb high gluten flour
¾ cup sugar
3 Tbsp dry yeast
5½ cup water
¾ cup oil
1. In the bowl of a mixer, add salt and then flour. Make a well and sprinkle in yeast. Add some of the water and let sit a few minutes. Add remaining ingredients and mix well.
2. Let dough rise for 40 minutes. Punch down and rise until doubled.
3. Divide dough into half. Remove a piece of each part and set aside.
4. Cut each of the dough halves into 6 strands and braid into two 6-part challahs.
5. Place the two braids in the Seudah Challah pan back to back. (If you have a little leftover dough from when you pinch the ends together, place it under the middle of the pan under the challah so that the middle of the challah looks taller.)
6. Divide each of the reserved pieces of dough into 3 strands and braid one 3-part challah.
7. Place it on top of the other brains. Cover and let rise about 45 minutes until dough fills up the pan.
8. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 420ºF. Brush egg wash (egg and water) carefully over the top of the challah so it doesn't deflate. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
9. Bake for 15 minutes. Without opening the oven door, lower oven temperature to 350ºF. Bake an additional 1 hour. Let cool before removing from pan.