Making the Braided Bread in the Land of Israel

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    Not so long story short:

    We got a really great challah recipe from a friend in America. My wife passed on this recipe to my mother. My mother zzgi”s is in the Goldene Medinah. The problem though is that it comes out so much better in the Land of the Empty Nation -by both the original person we got it from and my mother- then it does in the Land of the Deer.

    1) It requires high gluten flour- not something we have been able to find here. but while we were able to buy gluten we’re not sure how much to be adding

    2) We only make about 1/3 or sometimes 1/2 of the recipe

    My thoughts are that maybe not making a full recipe might be having an effect, as well as the water here and atmosphere.

    Does anybody have any ideas how we may be able to fix this incredibly important problem.


    The local white flour is about 10 percent gluten. You want it around 14-15, so, add about 40 grams gluten/kilo. If you are in the hills, there is less atmosphere keeping the dough down, but less effective cooking also. In the lowlands, the humidity is probably helpful. Note: this is just the math, not experience. I do whole grain sourdough, no eggs little oil, suspended seeds, spices or sprouted grain. It is not fluffy bread.


    Thanks for the info. We were slowly adding more gluten but we were only up to 2 tbsp. 40g is 6 tbsp. So we’ll try that out this week iy”h.

    I think we are in the hills as we are on mountains, but I don’t understand how we can adjust the baking based on this to replicate American conditions.


    I would suggest changing things one at a time and keeping notes. That way you know what worked and what didn’t. It may take a few tries to zero it in on exactly right.



    i think you left out the most important part of your post.

    whats the recipe??? who doesnt want to try a new Challah dough recipe


    It isn’t a crazy recipe or anything like that. I just really enjoy it. But here it is anyway: (The flour is high gluten)

    3oz. fresh yeast or 4 tbsp dry yeast.

    6 cups warm water + 1 cup sugar

    mix and let proof

    Add 6-7 cups flour until it becomes a paste

    Let sit for 10 minutes

    Mix together 1/2 cup oil and 3 eggs

    add to the dough

    Add 3 1/2 tbsp salt

    Add rest of flour (to combined total of 6 lbs)

    Knead for 10 min.

    Add 1 tbsp oil then kneed for a few more.

    cover. let sit for 45 min. divide braid and let rise ~an hour.


    I make a very similar recipe using white whole wheat flour and it comes out GREAT!

    I know that when I have tried to make only 1/2 of the recipe, it is much harder to get it right.

    Have you considered making the whole recipe and freezing the extra challah just barely done?

    That is what I do and then I put the challah in the oven to warm up before Shabbos.



    My mother does that. I don’t think we ever tried making the whole recipe because we would get about 12 challos out of the recipe for the size that we would need since we are still a young family. That’s a lot of freezer space.

    But you are right. It might simply be that since we are only making 1/3 of the recipe it is affecting the outcome.


    You could always give some Challah to someone who may need it.

    m in Israel

    What type of yeast are you using? Different yeasts rise differently, and are also affected by the atmosphere.

    I actually find that my Challah comes out much better here than it did in the US. I do put an aluminum pan with water on the floor of the oven while my Challah bakes — the moisture helps the Challah rise more evenly, particularly as the atmosphere here has been very dry (unfortunately).

    As far as making a smaller amount goes, as long as you keep the proportions that usually shouldn’t make a difference in the outcome. However, keep in mind the Mitzva of taking Challah in Eretz Yisroel is a mitzva d’oraisa (in chutz l’aretz it is d’rabanan) — maybe it is worth making the full recipe so you can take Challah here with a bracha — a big zchus!

    If your recipe still is not working out, you can try mine. This is a very sweet almost “cake” challah — if you like it more bread like you can put in a bit less sugar and oil, and one less egg.

    Dissolve 4 oz. fresh yeast (or 4 Tbsp. condensed yeast or 7 packets dry yeast) in a mixture of 1 cup warm water and 1 Tbsp. sugar. Set aside to bubble.

    Remaining Ingredients:

    2 kilo plus 2 to 3 cups flour (in the US I used 5 pounds, but this is the best equivalent that has worked)

    2 cups sugar

    2 Tbsp. salt

    5 eggs

    1 1/4 cup oil

    2 3/4 cup warm water

    Mix about half the flour with the sugar and salt. Add the eggs, oil, warm water, and yeast mixture and mix well. Add remaining flour and knead well. You may need to add a little extra flour — add enough so that the dough is only slightly sticky. If you are using a mixer, add enough so the dough is not sticking to the sides of the bowl while it is mixing. Let rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours, and then punch down and knead again. Let rise another 1/2 hour to 45 minutes, punch down and shape. (This makes 6 large or 8 smallish challahs). Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius (350 Fahrenheit). Allow the Challahs to rise in their pans for another 45 minutes and then coat with egg. Bake for 35 minutes. (As mentioned above I put a tray of water at the bottom of the oven.) I switch the Challahs around in the oven to the opposite shelf after 20 minutes so they bake more evenly.

    Good luck!

    m in Israel

    Personally I have an extra freezer, so I don’t have that problem, but a friend of mine gives out her extra Challahs to neighbors and relatives who don’t bake on their own. . .just an idea!!

    sem graduate

    If someone is in Israel, they need to get an Israeli challa recipe – it’s not just the flour that’s different, the water is also much heavier. An American recipe can never taste as good here….


    stam FYI, while living in Israel, my wife had the same issue. my MIL – a klige yiddishe mame, said she found that the altitude and air pressure played a huge role in challah baking. therefore, the same recipe will turn out different in different places, especially in a mountainous place…

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