A lot of people don’t realize that Libya had a large Jewish population until the formation of Israel in 1948, and pressures that came with that. In fact, Libya may have been home to one of the oldest Jewish groups, dating back to the 3rd century BCE. Now the country is almost 100% Muslim (there was also a Christian population at one time).
So it goes to say that a lot of “Jewish” recipes from the region are also eaten by Muslims and vice-versa. So much of the relationship between Jews and Muslim gets polarized in our news, regardless that the term Arab can truly apply to either religion, and that Arab Jews or Arab Christians or Arab Muslims share much more than is thought.
Yet again, I digress. Let’s get back to cooking!
Yesterday, I decided I wanted to make some bread, and I settled on challah. Why? Well, this Wisconsinite loves butter, that’s one. Two, it’s such a fun bread to make with the beautiful way it gets braided, so I thought I’d give it a go. This recipe is adapted from a Williams-Sonoma book on baking, The Essentials of Baking, that has the best recipes. Everything in it I love.
Begin by activating your yeast.
Add sugar, salt, eggs, butter, and flour.
Roll and braid!
Bake at 350 F for 30-35 minutes!
After your braided challah has risen for another 45 minutes-1 hour, doubling in size once again, add your egg wash and go ahead and slip the bread into the oven. It gets a beautiful brown, and smells so good!
- 1 cup lukewarm water
- 2 packages of active yeast
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 stick of butter, at room temperature
- 3 eggs
- dash of salt
- 5 cups of flour
- additional egg for egg wash
- Begin by activating the yeast in your water. Once the yeast has been activated, add the sugar, salt, butter, eggs, and 5 cups of flour. Stir until you can knead the dough into a consistent, round ball. Let rise for two hours, or until the dough doubles (this is best left in an lightly oiled bowl with a loose, slightly damp towel over the bowl).
- Once it has doubled in size, section the bread into four equal parts. Roll each part into a long snake-like form (like you’re a child playing with PlayDough). Pinch all four pieces together at the top once all rolled out, and braid.
- Let double in size, about 45 mins-1 hour.
- Brush with egg-wash.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes at 350 F. Enjoy!