Challah Bread is an egg and butter-rich, sweet brioche-like bread, that is chewy in texture and delicious. You can eat it straight up, or make sandwiches. A day or two old Challah is a preferred bread for making that delectable, perfect French Toast.
Challah is a special bread in Jewish cuisine, served especially during Sabbath and Jewish holidays which start with the breaking of this bread. They are usually braided to signify truth, peace, and justice. However, they are also made in other shapes and sizes.
My First Taste of Challah
My first encounter with this beauty was at a small Jewish bakery in Pittsburgh, PA. I had just moved to the country and was still getting adjusted to the cold, snowy winter. At the same time, I was fascinated by all the new flavors and textures that I was discovering.
Back to the bakery. They were baking the bread in the back and the wafting smell was intoxicating. I had to ask them what they were making. It was Challah and the baker had these beautiful braided loaves that he had taken out that morning, two hours back. His word of advice, as I was leaving was, “Don’t forget to save a few slices for making French toast tomorrow or the day after!”
Now, I had to stop once more to ask him why??!! He said, “These beauties soak up the custard for making the French Toast much better, after a day old. And slice them thick”. So, I went home, eager to try a new flavor. Dinner, that night was hot soup and warm, thick chunks of Challah. It was delicious, no other word for it.
And, I made French Toast, two days later. They were incredible! The bread soaks up the batter so much better but does not dissolve. When you pan fry it, it crisps up a golden deliciousness. You have to try it!
After that, I decided to try making my own. And over the years, have perfected it. Like all baking, this takes patience and understanding of the ingredients and how they behave in your kitchen. In baking, practice makes perfect. Don’t give up, if you don’t get it on the first try. Try again and again, and, you will get it. And, believe me, the smell of Challah baking in your oven will make the neighbors want to come over for dinner. It’s worth it!