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Total Time
1hr 20mins
Prep 20 mins
Cook 1 hr

Berches is the name for Challah in German and western Yiddish. This version is the traditional old-fashioned kind made with a minimal amount of fat and sugar and no eggs except in the glaze. It has a thin crispy crust and a chewy crumb with a plain but excellent flavor. Recipe time does not include proofing time.

Ingredients Nutrition

Directions

  1. Dissolve the sugar and salt in the boiling water and add the oil; set aside to cool until lukewarm. Dissolve the yeast in the 1/2 cup of warm water (100°F), and set aside for 5 minutes. Add the yeast water to the flour and then the remaining water to which you had added salt, sugar and oil.
  2. Knead in the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the dough hook, at the lowest speed until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Leave the dough to rest in the bowl, covered, for about 20 minutes, then place in the refrigerator to rise overnight.
  3. The following day, take out the dough and, without kneading it, divide it in half. Divide each half into 3, 4, or 6 pieces, depending on how many strands you want for shaping the braids.
  4. Roll each piece into a long, even strand, not too thin, and shape the braids. It is better to lightly flour each strand before braiding them. This will help keep the braided shape neat during baking.
  5. Sprinkle generously on a baking sheet with fine cornmeal or semolina and place the shaped breads on it, cover and leave them to rise for 1 1/2 or 2 hours, then brush them with yolk mixed with 1 tbsp of water and sprinkle with poppy seed if you like.
  6. Bake the bread in a preheated oven 425F for about 45-60 minutes.
  7. If you have a baking stone, preheat it for at least 45 minutes and bake the breads directly on it. Let the breads cool on a rack.