Hot Pretzel Challah

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The ballpark meets the Shabbos table!

  • Duration
  • Cook Time
  • Prep Time
  • 2 ServingsServings

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons bread machine yeast or active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 6 cups bread flour (King Arthur® brand if possible)
  • 8 cups water at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup baking soda
  • pretzel salt, kosher salt, or sesame seeds
  • mustard, optional for dipping

Preparation

1. In a medium glass or Pyrex bowl or measuring cup, place the yeast, 1 tablespoon sugar, and ½ cup lukewarm water. Proof the yeast: it should show signs of life by expanding, slightly bubbling, or moving. If none of these things happened, your yeast is dead. Spill it out and start again.

2. Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, on medium-low speed, mix the 3 tablespoons sugar, 2 cups water, fine sea salt, and oil. This can also be done by hand with a whisk.

3. When the yeast has been “proofed” and shows signs that it is alive, beat the yeast mixture into the mixing bowl. With the mixer at a low speed, add the flour. Raise speed to medium and knead for 4–5 minutes until a nice, smooth, satiny dough forms. It will have almost a matte finish. If you are kneading in the flour by hand, it may take a few minutes longer to get a good smooth texture. Cover the bowl of dough with a kitchen towel and allow the dough to rise in a warm place for 11/2 hours or until doubled in size.

4. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line a jelly roll pan with parchment paper. Set aside.

5. Remove the dough to a lightly floured surface. If the dough is sticky, knead in flour, a little bit at a time, until the dough is easy to roll. Divide the dough in half. Divide each half into 3 balls and roll each into a long strand. Braid each challah using 3 strands of dough. Place on prepared cookie sheet. Set aside to rise while you prepare the next step.

6. Bring the 8 cups water and baking soda to a boil in a pot with the widest opening. Gently and carefully, lower one challah into the baking soda solution. Using 2 wooden spoons, carefully turn the challah so both sides get a good exposure to the water or bathe the top of the challah with spoonfuls of the solution. After 30 seconds remove the challah to the parchment-lined pan, using the 2 spoons to support it. Repeat with the second challah.

7. Once both challahs are back on the pan, brush with the water from the pot and sprinkle with salt or sesame seeds.

8. Bake for 30 minutes. Best served warm or rewarmed. Serve with mustard.

Tips

Unlike most challah recipes, this one can’t be frozen because the challah will get soggy when it is defrosted and reheated. In fact, it is best made fresh or at most one day ahead, but cool completely before putting in a plastic bag and rewarm before serving. You can order pretzel salt from the internet or save the packets from boxes of store-bought frozen hot pretzels. A selection of mustards, such as spicy brown, coarse grain, and honey-mustard, will make this a home run.