Friday was unexpectedly hot, a hectic day full of walkathons and sweaty little ones, leaving little time for baking. By the time we got ’round to baking some challah and making dinner I realized that our air conditioner had decided to take a break. Our friendly electrician came to the rescue, and we said the hamotzi over some leftover challah. After Jack and Emily fell asleep, cozied up together in Jack’s log bed, Molly and I snuck back downstairs and tried out one of her all-time favorite challah recipes- The Best Maple Challah. A few years back, one of her classmates from Hebrew School brought it in and it made such a big impression on her that she insisted that I ask for the recipe. We recently discovered the recipe card and Molly’s been patiently waiting her turn in the cue. It was well worth the wait.

We measured and mixed together, and giggled, delighted to share this secret time, made even more special because it was unplanned and past bedtime. The ratio of ingredients seemed in good proportion, and the lack of sugar for proofing the yeast was made up for by the addition of four tablespoons of maple syrup with the remaining ingredients. The dough was very elastic and smooth, and we took turns kneading. After we tucked our dough ball under a dishtowel Molly went up to bed and I don’t know which one of us was grinning more. The dough doubled in two hours and was easy to roll and braid. An egg yolk, with no added water created a bright, glossy finish. The recipe produces a single crowned challah, which is a good thing because it’s so good we’d gobble up many loaves in no time at all. As it baked, the house smelled delicious and even after I took it out to cool the aroma made it’s way upstairs. The end result was golden and just right. This challah was moist and chewy, tasted faintly maple-y, sort of yeast-y, and very beautiful.

When everyone came down for breakfast Saturday morning they were surprised and excited to see a challah waiting for them. We happily munched away in an unusual silence and when I asked for everyone’s review they each enthusiastically added one superlative on to another- "awesome, amazing, terrific."

This may very well be the Best Maple Challah out there, for me it will always be one that reminds me of sweet Molly moments and forever more sweet dreams. 

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