I like to make my own challah and (BC*) I used to a lot. The problem was, it never really worked for me. The yeast kind-of bubbled in the warm water. The challah kind-of rose. It rose a bit more in the oven but… it never really worked.
During Covid (yes, it’s still happening for those who have moved on), it became a distant memory. While working full time and taking care of a 2-3 year old half-time, it was just an impossibility. Enter: Jamie Geller! I came across her no-knead challah dough and kept the recipe open on my phone for months before I tried it. Once I tried it, I was sold. You make the dough on Tuesday night – or Wednesday morning with Eitan – which takes about 10 minutes. Then you pop it in the fridge and forget about it till Friday morning. OK, if you can’t work from home the next part is tough. You braid it on Friday and let it rise for another hour. Then pop it in the oven for about 30 minutes. It’s so easy, and I love that Eitan sees the process. He’s so proud of helping me make challah!
The best part, though, is next. She also has a bunch of recipes you can make with the same dough! For example: babka. I have never made babka mostly because it is a PIA. I also don’t love the bakery stuff; it’s always so dry! I’ve had it homemade once before and it was like heaven. When I came across that article, it was like a lightbulb went off.
I’ve now made chocolate babka several times, and it is a great, easy recipe. I make half a recipe of challah dough and get two small braided challot for Shabbat dinner, two small rolls for Shabbat lunch, and a chocolate babka. Amazing!
Tip on the chocolate babka: it is difficult to get pareve chocolate spread except at a kosher grocer. I made my own but you need to plan in advance. Melt 1 stick of margarine in the microwave and add 1/2 cup of pareve chocolate chips (these are also hard to get pareve but I have luckily been able to). Stir until the chocolate is melted and everything is well combined. Pop back into the fridge to solidify. If you remember on Friday morning to take it out a few minutes early to soften before you assemble the babka, that will help too.
I have also made the cinnamon rolls, which were delicious, although I like Jenn Segal’s quick ones as well. They’re just very different. Of course, Jenn’s don’t even have the option of becoming pareve, so maybe that’s a point in favor of Jamie’s?