by Liz Ison
This Sunday at Heder the Barmitzvah class made “Biblical” hallah – hallah made with the seven Biblical species – in preparation for next Saturday’s festival of Tu B’shevat which also happens to be the first Batmitzvah of their year group. We made about 20 mini-hallot which were frozen ahead of next week. The young people decided to give some of the rolls to the care group who take out food parcels to those in the community who have been unwell.
The recipe below simplifies the previous method. Our Batmitzvah girl suggested that, as there were three strands and three types of dried fruit, we could knead one type of fruit per strand before plaiting – so that is what we did. This was a delicious way of learning and talking about these fruits and grains and connecting us with the Torah – find out more here.
We shared one warm hallah fresh from the oven (we were just checking to see it tasted ok) while reading some Jewish poetry about faith and food.
(makes two loaves, or 16ish mini-hallot)
- 2 tablespoons dried yeast
- 1¾ cups warm water
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 3½ teaspoons salt
- ½ cup olive oil
- 3 eggs and 2 egg yolks
- 7½ cups (1100g) strong white flour
- 1 cup golden raisins (first, soak in warm water for 5 minutes, before draining and drying the raisins)
- ½ cup chopped dates
- ½ cup chopped figs (remove the stalks and soak in warm water for 5 minutes, before draining and patting dry)
- 1 egg, beaten
- Barley flakes (available from health food shops)
- Pomegranate seeds
Make the dough: In a large mixing bowl, stir together the yeast, water and a pinch of sugar. Leave for five minutes. Stir in the remaining sugar and salt. Add oil, eggs, yolks and flour. Stir. Leave to rest for 15 minutes, then knead by hand or with the dough hook of a food mixer for about 10 minutes. Add extra flour if it is too sticky. Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover the bowl with cling film, or a large bin bag. Leave to rise for about 1- 1 ½ hours, till doubled in size.
Prepare the loaves: Deflate the dough, and press the prepared raisins, figs and dates into the dough, kneading and folding them in.
Leave to rest for 10 minutes before shaping. Divide the dough in half. For a three-braid hallah, divide the dough into three, and roll with your hands into long ropes. For mini-hallot, divide into smaller balls and proceed.
Then plait the three braids together. Repeat with the other half.
Put onto a baking tray lined with parchment. Brush with the beaten egg. Leave to prove again for about half an hour, loosely covered with the bin bag.
Bake: Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6.
Brush the loaves again with egg wash, sprinkle with the barley flakes and put in the oven.
After 10 minutes baking, turn the oven down to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4. Bake for a further 25 minutes (10 minutes for small rolls).
They are done if they sound hollow when you tap the bottoms. Cool on a rack. Serve sprinkled with pomegranate seeds.
Tip: If making the blessing over bread, place a bowl next to the hallah with extra pomegranate seeds that you can sprinkle over after the blessing, as you would normally do with salt.