Week after week, it’s fascinating to see the different ingredients and techniques for making in theory the same bread. The recipe Aunt Ada’s Challah (With a Twist) from Lisa Rauchwerger’s Chocolate Chip Challah and Other Twists on the Jewish Holiday Table was fun to make and a big hit with the kids. The twist? Our guest-star ingredient this week was a small potato- peeled, quartered, boiled and riced. Don’t have a ricer? Not to worry. Instead of digging around for our baby food ricer I used my garlic press to rice the potato. Emily thought that was pretty cool- "It looks like spaghetti!" The nifty technique? Microwave one cup of water for a minute and a half and then portion out four tablespoons to proof the yeast. After carefully measuring out the water, despite my concerns, that yeast puffed up very dramatically.

The proportions seemed right and the dough mixed together very nicely. It did start out a little crumbly but after 5-10 minutes of kneading was a smooth, compact ball. We left it to rise for two hours and had a lovely walk around our old hometown. We moved three years ago and don’t get back too often, when we do it’s often just for a quick visit to the ice-cream shop. I occasionally spend a morning strolling through the teeny downtown shopping area while everyone’s at school, but it had clearly been a while since Jack and Emily were back in town. We visited some favorite old stomping grounds, stopping outside our old health food store to peer into a giant ceramic planter filled with koi. The last time we were there I hoisted Emily up over the edge to see the fish and this afternoon she ran right up and easily looked down into the pot. The two of them marveled at the fish while I marveled at how much they’re all growing. In that moment that koi pot was like a time machine, a flash of memories in an instant. When we moved to Denville Molly was two and we’d shop there all the time. I’d lift her up to greet the fish on our arrival and once more on our way out to say good-bye, rain or shine. She carefully navigated the little tikes shoping carts though the aisles and we’d fill the cart with goodies. Then Jack came along and he’d peer over his baby carrier to wave at the fish, distraught when we went there one wintry day and the pot had iced over. He was thrilled when spring finally thawed out his fishy friends, but worried again the following winter. The next year I’d scoop him up to take a peek while carefully balancing Emily in the Baby B’jorn. Greetings and good-byes with every visit. Our baby days are past and our littlest one will soon be four, changing and growing every day. The store has a new owner and new name but how wonderful that some things stay the same. I made sure to say good-bye to the fish and promised we’d all be back soon. We drove home, picked up Molly from her schoolbus and tackled the dough.

There are several braiding options listed , but the kids were excited to try the 2 large braided challot with crowns. Each section rolled out nicely, braided easily and within an hour had doubled again and was ready for an egg wash. It took slightly longer to bake than expected but was worth the wait. The end result was moist, sweet (did I mention the 1/4 cup of honey?) and dense. Molly raved "It’s downright delicious!" Emily happily gobbled away, and Jack once again insisted that this was his second favorite recipe, maybe even his most favorite. 

This cookbook is exceptional. There are simple illustrations for each step of kneading, braiding or rolling. The subtitle – An Interactive Family Cookbook- is completely accurate. Each holiday has it’s own section and many have a page with questions to answer together and record.

Delightful cookbook, downright delicious challah and walk down memory lane too.

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