Cooking Class: Halla for Shabbat

Try a few variations on the traditional braided bread recipes.

By JERUSALEM POST STAFF
August 1, 2012 16:35
Halla

Halla 370. (photo credit: Boaz Lavie)

 
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There is nothing quite like the smell of warm halla in your kitchen to bring forth that Shabbat feeling, and no halla is better tasting than the one you have baked yourself.

More and more home bakers have been asking for good recipes for halla, so here are some, courtesy of chef/baker Rosella Yona of Biscotti Bakery.

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Yona took the traditional Shabbat bread and gave it her own interpretations. She uses many different kinds of flour and adds dried fruit, herbs, nuts and even tehina to the basic recipes.

Halla is not just bread, she says. “It’s the crown of Shabbat, a taste associated with memories from one’s childhood.”

HALLA, BASIC RECIPE
Makes 3 large breads or 4 if baked in loaf form
✔ 1 kg. flour
✔ 1 Tbsp. salt
✔ 2 Tbsp. yeast or 1 Shimrit
✔ 2 to 21⁄2 cups lukewarm water
✔ 3 eggs
✔ 3⁄4 cup oil
✔ 3⁄4 cup honey
✔ Seeds of your choice, optional

Mix flour and salt, add the yeast and gradually pour the water and mix with a fork. In a separate bowl, mix together the honey, 2 eggs and oil, and then add to the batter. Knead until a smooth and elastic dough forms. Add flour or water as needed.

Leave to rise in the refrigerator in a covered bowl overnight.



In the morning, take the dough out of the refrigerator.

On a lightly floured work surface, flatten the dough and separate into three (or four) equal parts.

Divide each part into three equal parts and roll each part into a long “sausage.” Braid the halla, place on a lined baking sheet, cover with a damp kitchen towel and let rise 30-40 minutes or until the halla is double in size.

Before baking, brush the bread with 1 egg and sprinkle sesame or poppy seeds, nuts, oats or any seeds you choose.

Heat the oven to 200º. Bake the bread for 5 minutes, lower the heat to 170º and bake 20 more minutes.

VARIATIONS

Dried fruit
For 1 halla (1⁄3 of the basic recipe)

✔ 300 gr. chopped dried fruit – apricots, dates, figs, cranberries or other dry fruit

Add the fruit to the dough and knead until dough is ready.

Continue as in basic recipe.

Honey and Tehina
For 1 halla (1⁄ 3 of the basic recipe)


✔ 1 cup tehina paste (not mixed with water and seasonings)
✔ 1 cup honey

 Mix honey and tehina in a bowl. Roll out the dough into a 30x40-cm rectangle.

Spread the honey mixture on the dough and roll into a roulade. Place the roulade in a greased loaf pan and close the ends. Continue as in basic recipe.

Sabikh (savory)
For 1 halla (1
3 of the basic recipe)

✔ 1 sliced eggplant
✔ 1 hard-boiled egg, sliced
✔ 1 egg
✔ 1 cup mixed tehina sauce*
✔ 1 Tbsp. chopped parsley
✔ Oil
✔ Sesame seeds

*To prepare the tehina sauce, mix the tehina paste with lemon, garlic and water until it resembles thick cream.

Slice eggplant and fry in oil until golden.

Roll out the dough into a 30x40-cm rectangle.

Spread a thin layer of tehina sauce in the center of the dough, place eggplant over it, top with another layer of tehina, sprinkle chopped parsley and egg slices. Season with salt and pepper. Make diagonal cuts on each side of the dough rectangle, 3 cm. apart. Cover the filling with the dough strips, alternating between the sides, until the filling is covered.

Brush the halla with an egg and sprinkle sesame seeds on top. Let rise and bake as in basic recipe.

Chocolate
For 1 halla (1 ⁄ 3 of the basic recipe)

✔ 300 gr. milk chocolate, cubes or medallions
✔ 1 egg

Roll the dough into an elongated rectangle. Spread the chocolate over the dough evenly. Roll the dough into a long “sausage.” Beginning at one end, create a spiral from the dough, closing the end.

Brush with an egg and continue as in basic recipe.

SPELT HALLA
Makes 3 large breads, or 4 if baked in loaf form

✔ 2 cups spelt flour
✔ 2 cups rye flour
✔ 3 cups white flour
✔ 1 level Tbsp. salt
✔ 2 Tbsp. dry yeast or 1 sachet Shimrit
✔ 2 to 21⁄2 cups lukewarm water
✔ 3 eggs ✔ 1⁄2 cup oil
✔ 1 cup silan
✔ Seeds of your choice

Mix the flours in a large bowl and add salt. Add the yeast and water. Mix with a fork. In a different bowl, mix together the silan, 2 eggs and oil. Add the silan mixture to the flour mix and knead about 10 minutes or until batter is smooth and elastic. Stretch a small part if the dough to test if done. If the dough stretches and does not break, you may let it rise. If not, knead the dough a little bit longer. If the dough is too wet and breaks easily, add a very small amount of the flour gradually.

If it is too dry, add a little water and knead again.

Leave to rise in the refrigerator in a covered bowl overnight.

In the morning, take the dough out of the refrigerator.

On a lightly floured work surface, flatten the dough and separate into three (or 4) equal parts. Divide each part into 3 equal parts and roll each part into a long “sausage.” Braid the halla, place on a lined baking sheet, cover with a damp kitchen towel and let rise 30- 40 minutes or until the halla is double in size.

Before baking, brush the bread with an egg and sprinkle sesame or poppy seeds, nuts, oats or any seeds you choose.

Heat the oven to 200º.

Bake the bread for 5 minutes and then lower the heat to 170º and bake 20 more minutes.

Recipes and photos are courtesy of Biscotti Bakery and chef Rosella Yona. Biscotti is kosher under supervision. The bakery now offers many different kinds of halla, including gluten-free and whole-grain flours. Available at the bakery, 67 Hayarkon Street, Bnei Brak. For delivery, call (03) 570-4015/8.

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