Whole Wheat Personal Challas
By Bossie Krapfman
Well now everyone always has to rave about this person's challas or that one's challas. It seems to me that the closer it tastes to cake the better people think it is. I have children to raise and a grumpy husband to work around. I am not interested in giving anyone junk food as a substitute for bread. Bread, believe it or not, was once considered "the staff of life"; it was the stuff that people basically lived from. Today, with the preponderance of the white flour and white sugar, people are living on vitamin pills to keep their health intact.
I buy one of those super sweet disgusting challas for my husband, who thinks that having a big stomach makes him look more knowledgeable, but for myself and the kids, I make a special challa that is really special and very simple to make.
I am not kidding when I say that if you make these challas, and eat this type of bread the whole week; you will actually lose weight and feel stronger. What is the big secret? Nothing really. What is white flour? It is the part of the flour that has the outer shell removed before it is ground. The only problem is that the outer shell is the part with all of the vitamins and minerals that we need for our body.
You know, we think of food as just something that we shovel into our mouths. And tasty food is something that is more sweet than "normal" food. That's food!? Believe me, if I were to serve camel dung with a lot of sugar, my husband would ask for seconds. Our body looks at food differently. Food is the stuff that it needs to build and rebuild the body. It ain't in white flour and it sure isn't in sugar, kiddo.
What happens is that when you fill up with this garbage, your stomach becomes full, so you think you have done a great job of eating. But, your stomach which has to give out vitamins and minerals to the various parts of the body doesn't have what it calls food, meaning the vitamins and minerals, to give out. So you basically deprive your body of food and fill it up with tasty nothing. So no wonder you are hungry soon after eating! Your stomach is looking for what it calls food!
Making these challas is very simple and they always turn out great.
I use only stone ground flour. No junky white flour!
Shlep out your mixing bowl and get the dough hook attachment on it. Here is the list of ingredients to have on hand before you start:
2 cups of whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons of brown sugar
1 teaspoon of salt
Small hand full of wheat bran fibers
1 tablespoon of pure olive oil
3 tablespoons of dry granular yeast
1/2 cup of warm water
Just throw all of the ingredients into the bowl and mix. It will take some time but you will get a cohesive ball that will clean the sides of the bowl and no flour or dough will be sticking to it. Once this happens you are ready for the next step.
Grease a muffin pan with margarine. No, I am not making one of those twisted challas that look so fancy, with my workload I don't have time. What I do is I make small little challas in a muffin tray. This recipe makes about 10 little challas.
After you have greased the pan really greasy, (and while your fingers are sticky with the margarine, the telephone will ring - ignore it, they will call again!) take the dough and roll it into a long tubular shaped cylinder the diameter of the muffin tin. Cut your dough into approximately 1" wide sections. Take each section and roll it in your palms and place it in the muffin tin. It should be about 2/3 filled up. Fill up as many spaces as there is dough.
Now here is the time saving trick. I do this Thursday night. I cover it with plastic baggies and put it into the refrigerator and then go to sleep. On Friday, I take it out of the refigerator and it has risen a bit. I heat my oven up to 375° F (which is about 175°C). When the oven is nice and warm, I pop them in, and in about 15 to 16 minutes, I have very nice (small) challas. There is no punching the dough down twice or even once (I am against violence in the kitchen)- these come out really great with out it. The secret is that they rise slowly and gently overnight in the refigerator!
I give to each of my kids a little one and I eat one myself. These are really tasty. No, they don't taste like the store bought cake tasting challas, but they have a unique taste and once you start eating them, you will never want to eat the empty white puff that passes for bread. Don't even consider your husband, that big bozo won't touch them. He knows that if he will try it, he might like it. Who knows, he may even become healthy, but then again, it's his problem.
Now if you want to do it like every one else and make a loaf, this will make one small loaf. Sometimes it may be worth while doubling the recipe, it also works very nice.
Just make sure that you have a wire rack or such to catch the hot challas. Let them cool in the room temperature air. Don't put them in a plastic bag while they are hot.
But Dis Ain't Challah
Now if your big guy starts to complain and tells you: "this isn't challah!" That's because he doesn't really know what challah is. Basically challah no one eats today. Challah was existant during the times of the Temple.
When someone made a lot of bread they separated the dough and gave a portion of it to the Priests (the Kohains) as it is written in Numbers 15:17-21 (check it out). In the times of the Temple, the Kohains were in a state of ritual purity, which can not be achieved today, and were permitted to eat the Challah. However, anyone who was not a Kohain, was forbidden to eat the Challah. So if wonder boy kevetchs that this is not challah, he is correct, neither is the junk food wonder bread that we buy at the local bakery. We just appropriated the name "challa" from this dough that was given to the Kohains, and call the bread that we eat on Shabbat by this misnomer. If they can call the great white wonder by the name challah, I can call my healthy vitality filled bread challah also.
Just for your info, if you actually make a large amount of bread, meaning more than 1230 grams (which is 2 pounds and 11 ounces) you must separate "challah". This is the real challah! The only thing is that you can't eat it. Since the Kohains are not in a state of ritual purity, we don't give it to them like in the times of the Temple, but rather, we wrap it in aluminum foil and burn it in the oven.
If we actually use an amount of flour above 1666 grams (which is 3 pounds and 7 ounces) then you separate the challah with a blessing. You still burn it, but many ladies prefer to try to hit the big number in order to say that blessing:
Baruch Atta Ado-noi Elo-haynu melech ha-olom asher kiddishanu ba-mitzvatav vi-tzi-va-nu le-haf-reish challa
- which means: Blessed are You, L-ord, our G-d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to separate challah.
By the way, this blessing has nothing to do with the Sabbath, if you have the above amounts of flour, then you make the blessing. If you want to say something special for the Shabbath, most women in the previous generation would always say "for the honor of the Sabbath" before making their challas. You too!
Remember, knowledge is power!
Bessie Krapfman is a practicing psychologist, marriage councilor, child development specialist and health food fanatic. She worked as Wonder Women for D.C. comics before entering active service.
from the January 2003 Edition of the Jewish Magazine