Irwin Lebow’s rosemary challah
In 1992, Irwin Lebow ’48, PhD ’51, submitted this recipe to Moment Magazine’s Ultimate Challah Contest. It was voted the best recipe in the category of non-traditional challah by the judges. Lebow described it as a liberal adaptation of Ruth Brooks’ Food for Thought (Sisterhood at Temple Emunah Lexington, Massachusetts, 1972).). Moment described it as “A light, exotically-flavored, deliciously-tasting loaf
” (approx. 110deg)
3 envelopes dry yeast (quick-rising)
1/2 C. honey
1/7/8 C. lukewarm Water
3/4c. vegetable oil
poppy or sesame seed
1 TBSP. salt
3 Tbsp. dried rosemary
7 c. bread flour (approx. )
1 egg, beaten
Dissolve yeast in 1/4 c. of water. In a bowl, combine the honey, 1/7/8 c. water and oil. Add salt, oil, salt and rosemary. Mix the eggs and yeast mixture together.
Add the flour slowly, while the mixer is at a slow speed. Mix in as much flour into the mixer as you can. Mix in the flour remaining by hand. A large, heavy-duty mixer is capable of handling all the flour. You might want to reserve some flour for the kneading that follows.
Turn out the mixture onto a floured surface and knead for 10-15 minutes. The flour you use during kneading can adjust the dough’s density. Oil your hands instead of adding flour to the dough when it becomes sticky. )
Place the dough in an oil-sprayed bowl. Cover it with plastic wrap or a towel and let it rise for one to two hours depending on the temperature. Knead for a few minutes. For a second rising, return to the oiled bowl until the bulk is doubled. Turn out on a surface, and knead for about a minute. Divide according to the number to be made. Divide each piece into equal parts according to your braiding technique.
Braid loaves, place on a greased cookie sheet, and allow to rise for 30 to 45 minutes. If desired, brush with beaten egg and sprinkle the loaves with sesame or poppy seeds.
Bake in a 350deg oven for 45-55 minutes, depending upon the size of the loaves.
For High Holidays, substitute anise with rosemary, add raisins after the second rising, then shape into round loaves.
Republished with permission from Moment Magazine.
I’m a journalist who specializes in investigative reporting and writing. I have written for the New York Times and other publications.