Celebrating Shabbat in a high mountain desert comes with it’s own unique benefits and challenges. Jewish Together – Boulder, a collaboration between 30 synagogues and organizations in or serving Boulder County, found two great recipes for High Altitude Challah. The first is from Susan G. Purdy’s cookbook and the second is from allrecipes.com and food.com. After you make these recipes, check out other ways to make Shabbat Special.
Adapted from Pie in the Sky Successful Baking at High Altitudes by Susan G. Purdy
Tip: You can prepare, raise and shape the dough in advance. Double-wrap and freeze for up to one month.
Tip: Author likes bread flour better than all-purpose flour for a higher rise.
Tip: Above 3500 feet (Boulder) the flavor and texture of the challah benefit from 2 rises before braiding and one after.
Tip: Oven rack position, temperature, and baking time – rack in center; 350 degrees F; 38-40 minutes.
Tip: Susan’s book gives suggestions for 5 different altitude adjustments. All recipes here give the adjustments at 5000 feet, the closest to Boulder’s elevation. For those living at 7000 or 10000 feet, refer to Pie in the Sky Successful Baking at High Altitudes by Susan G. Purdy.
Yield: 2 large braided loaves (approx. 6×17 inches)
4 ½ tsp. active dry yeast
¼ c. warm water
1 tsp. granulated sugar for yeast ½ c. minus 1 tbsp. for dough
3 large whole eggs
3 egg yolks
½ c. canola or other vegetable oil
1 tbsp. salt
1 ¾ c. hot water (120 degrees F)
6 ½-7 ¾ c flour or as needed
1 large whole egg
2 egg whites
1 tsp water
In a cup, combine the yeast, warm water, 1 tsp. sugar. Stir and set aside for 3-4 minutes. Whisk together eggs and yolks, then beat in the oil, salt, sugar, and hot water. When the mixture cools, scrape in the yeast, 2 cups flour and whisk until smooth. Then stir in 1-2 cups additional flour. Mix hard until the dough comes together in a sticky mass and begins to look stretchy. Kneed with a dough hook or your hands. Add flour ¼ c at a time until you have added 1 ¾ cups total. Turn the dough out onto a counter sprinkled with ¼ c flour. Kneed for 10-12 minutes. At this point, give the dough its first rise. Coat the dough with oil and place it in a warm (75-85 degrees) spot free from drafts in a plastic bag sealed or in a bowl covered with oiled plastic wrap. Let the dough rise until nearly doubles in bulk. (approx. 45 minutes). Once the dough has risen, punch down and knead once or twice. Return to oiled container for 2nd rise (25 minues). After 2nd rise, punch down and divide in half. Make 3 or 4 ropes and braid. Cover the braided loaves with lightly oiled plastic wrap and set aside to rise for a 3rd time. Allow loaves to increase by 1/3 bulk. If using glaze, beat glaze ingredients and brush on top of braids. Bake until golden brown, the crust sounds hollow when rapped with your knuckle or an instant read thermomter inserted in the center reads 190-195 degrees. For a darker brown crust, turn off the oven and leave the loaves in the oven for an additional 4-5 minutes. Cool on wire rack.
High Altitude Challah
1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees F)
3 tbsp. white sugar, divided
2 (1/4 oz) packages active dry yeast
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup milk (as needed)
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 tsp. salt
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Combine the warm water, 1/2 teaspoon sugar and the yeast in a measuring cup. Let stand until the yeast dissolves and starts to foam, 5 to 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, beat 2 eggs. Put the egg yolks in a 1/3 measuring cup and add enough milk to equal 1/3 cup with the yolks in it. Pour this into the bowl with the eggs and pour in the yeast mixture, butter, salt, and remaining sugar. Gradually mix in the flour until the dough is firm enough to handle.
Knead the dough on a floured surface until the dough does not stick to your hands. You will probably use more flour while kneading.
Place the dough into an oiled bowl and turn to coat. Cover and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Cut the dough into 3 even portions and roll into long ropes. Press one set of ends together, and braid and tuck the other set of ends under, pressing gently.
Place the loaf on a greased baking sheet and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Set in a warm place to rise. Bread is ready to bake when your finger leaves an impression in the dough.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Whisk the remaining egg in a small bowl. Brush onto the loaf. This will give the bread a lovely golden color and delicious crust.
Bake until the loaf is golden and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom, about 35 minutes. Remove from baking sheet and cool on a wire rack.