This pretzel challah is the perfect combination of history and religion: both a family recipe that has been joyfully shared over the years and a celebration of Shabbat. The crusty ends are favorites on their own, and the chewy middle invites all sorts of spreads - and the crunchy topping of salt crystals adds a special kick to all of it!
- In large bowl of an electric mixer with a dough hook (or by hand), mix yeast, water, sugar, and flour until dough forms a ball. (Add water or flour, as needed.)
- Knead until smooth and elastic.
- Place inverted bowl over dough and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour. Punch down dough, divide into two parts.
- For each challah, divide dough into 3 equal parts, roll into ropes, pinch three ropes together and braid. Pinch at the end and tuck ends under.
- Place both challahs on greased baking sheet, about 3 inches apart. Let rise until almost double, brush with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt.
- Bake at 375°F for about 1/2 hour or until golden brown (and loaves sound hollow when tapped on bottom).
- Cool on rack.
Jan Rood-Ojalvo has longstanding ties to Congregation M'kor Shalom and the Katz JCC, both in Cherry Hill, NJ. Jan, who lives with her husband Steve in Haddonfield, NJ, loves baking, traveling, opera, and staying in touch with her six children – and two granddaughters.