Here it is dear readers at long last, a tutorial on how to braid gorgeous round challah loaves, just in time for Rosh HaShana! We have the custom to eat round loaves on Rosh HaShana to symbolize the continuity of life, and on Rosh HaShana we dip the challah in honey (rather than salt) to symbolize our hopes for a sweet new year. Many continue eating round challahs until the end of Succos, a tradition that I love especially now that I know how to make gorgeous round challahs, thanks to Tamar Ansh and her book A Taste of Challah.
This braiding method works equally well with large (three or four loaves per 2 kilos of flour) or small loaves, which make lovely gifts. Start by making your dough using your favorite recipe, or my favorite challah recipe, and once the dough has risen and been punched down and is ready for braiding, follow the steps below. Once you get the hang of it, it's really quite simple!
Step 3: Arrange strips according to photo
Step 4: Working clockwise, cross A over B, C over D, E over F and G over H
Step 5: Now working in the opposite direction, cross B over G, H over E, F over C (Whoops, I made a mistake in my braiding, F should be over C) and D over A
Step 6: Now working clockwise once again, cross G over D, A over F, C over H and E over B. If you have more dough left to braid, repeat step 5.
Step 7: Pinch the ends together and bring up the four sets of ends to the center of the challah. Pinch those together. Yes, really!
Step 8: And now for the magic, flip your whole loaf over and ta da! A perfectly braided round loaf, yippee!
Step 9: Let the loaves rise, but watch them so they don't over rise and ruin your beautiful work! Brush with egg white and sprinkle with sesame seeds and bake. Serve at your holiday table and have a happy sweet new year!
PS: When trying a new braiding technique I highly recommend doing it at a time when you're not under pressure! Think about making your challah a few days ahead and then freezing your loaves, this way you'll be able to concentrate on my instructions and you'll most certainly succeed.
And thanks to Lynne from Chicago for gently urging me to get this tutorial posted! I'm so happy to cross this one off my list of things to accomplish before the end of the year!