Ah December…that gloriously overtaxed month where all baking just automatically makes sense and can inarguably be used as a reason for why you absolutely can’t, just can’t, leave your warm, twinkly home. Alas, holiday baking is synonymously tied up in confections and sweets, ignoring one of the most universal baking items churning out of kitchens across the world this time of year: BREAD! Challah is easily the best candidate within this baking category as it omits the hideous concoction of candied fruits and their sandy peels, something that other festive breads seem to consider a hard and fast requirement. Challah is also tremendously multitalented and willingly gives itself over to many other bread-based creations such as this bread pudding or that French toast.
Challah’s versatility means that an unbaked loaf can easily become a blank canvas for any number of twists or toppings or stylings. The most traditional version, brought to you in this post by Bon Appetit, is eggy and plush and scattered with sesame seeds, the smell of which starts becoming synonymous in your brain with warm melted butter after enough slices of toast. My personal favourite variation comes from the challah goddess herself, Molly Yeh, and is an adaptation on her prohibitively challenging pretzel challah recipe (by prohibitive I mean dangerous – her original recipe calls for lye and safety goggles…I tweaked for the sake of preserving skin). The adaptations save you from having to cook with chemicals while still conserving that glossy brown exterior that makes the challah distinctly pretzel-y. Both freeze beautifully provided you don’t finish off the loaves and eat yourself into a dreadfully pleasant gluten coma first.