I realize that posting a Rosh Hashanah recipe almost a month in advance is a bit… much… but Christmas decorations are out before Halloween now, so just give me this, ok??? I’m excited. The older I get and the less I care about presents (unless it’s a Caboodles), the more I care about holidays that revolve around big feasts and merriment and being cozy and autumnal, so Rosh Hashanah: check. Thanksgiving: check. Beet Harvest party: check. And wheat harvest has begun, so we are on the fast track to fall and all of my favorite days. It’s on like donkey kong, fronds!!!!
First we did have to endure a couple of weekends in the 90s though, which I’m hoping will be dunzo asap because this coming weekend I’m judging a hotdish competition outside, and surely a hot hot hotdish competition would have less than optimal comfort. However, rain or shine or shvitz, I’m willing to put myself second in the name of choosing an East Grand Forks hotdish champion. There better be a tater tot entry this year. I couldn’t believe there wasn’t one last year.
This past weekend we had visitors! The Butnick Cohens of Manhattan came over and we ran through wheat fields, ate cheesy pickles, made challah, spent good quality time in the climate controlled indoors, and attended the Prince cover band street dance and it was all extremely fun!!!!! I got Stephanie a Caboodles and she got me one so now we have Friendship Caboodles and my life is complete. I organized all of my nail polishes in mine.
Speaking of 90s things, this challah is inspired by a thing my mom used to do in the 90s, which was pour a bunch of orange juice into bread dough. It sounds weird, but it works! It makes the bread slightly tangy, sour, and sweet. And it’s oddly good with turkey sandwiches. Kind of in the same way that cranberry sauce works with turkey. The OJ bread my mom used to make was just a simple white sandwich bread, but this year for Rosh Hashannah I figured what better way to ring in a sweet new year than with OJ challah?? The hit of citrus in this is subtle and great. It would be equally at home as a turkey sandwich or as a sweet french toast, it’s a versatile little loaf! I’ve made eight mini loaves here, but you can totally make fewer larger loaves, just increase the baking time.
L’shana almost tovah!
orange juice challah
makes 8 little loaves (or fewer, bigger loaves)
2 1/4 tsp (1 packet) active dry yeast
1 c (236ml) warm water
1/2 c (118ml) orange juice, from about 2 oranges
6 c (780g) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/4 c (50g) sugar
Zest of 1 orange
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
2/3 c (132g) flavorless oil, such as canola or vegetable oil
2 large eggs
Egg wash: 1 large egg beaten with 1 tb water
Sesame seeds, for sprinkling
In a medium bowl, combine the yeast, warm water and orange juice. Let it sit for about 5 minutes, until slightly foamy. Meanwhile, in a large bowl or the bowl of stand mixer, combine the flour, sugar, orange zest, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together oil and 2 eggs.
Add yeast mixture and egg mixture to the flour mixture; stir to combine. Knead, either by hand on a floured surface or with a dough hook on medium speed for 7 to 10 minutes, adding more flour as necessary (but resist any urge to add too much!), until you have a smooth and slightly sticky dough.
Transfer dough to a large oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature until doubled in size, about 2 hours. (Alternatively, chill dough in refrigerator overnight, then let stand at room temperature for 1 hour before shaping.)
Divide dough into 8 pieces. Divide each into 4 logs and shape according to the gif above (alternatively you can make mini swirls or mini 3-strand braids or even just blobs!). Place on 2 baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing evenly apart, cover loosely, and let rise 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375ºF. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining egg and 1 tablespoon water. Brush rolls with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake until they are golden and have an internal temperature of 190ºF; begin checking for doneness at 18 minutes. Transfer to a wire wrack to cool slightly and enjoy.
Challah is best eaten within 24 hours, after that it’s ok if you toast it or use it for french toast. It also freezes well!
photos by chantell and brett quernemoen