Posts Tagged: Challah Recipe Results 6
Once a month, I teach a class in baking challah. There are no machines involved. The (adult) students and I gather the ingredients, proof the yeast, mix in the flour and sugar, eggs and honey, salt and oil. Month in month out, we work off of the same recipe and turn and twist, punch and knead, fold and braid. And never has the resulting bread tasted the same as the batch made the month before. Each challah, like each of us, is unique. Just as we are a mixture of nature and nurture, so too is the finished challah a mixture of the measured ingredients and the care those ingredients received. For challah, I have come to see, while clearly bread that we eat, is also a metaphor for life.
The Tu B’Shvat Seder placed special emphasis on Shivat Haminim — the Seven Species of produce native to the Land of Israel, which are mentioned in the Torah: wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and honey.
Although in many parts of the world it is still winter, Tu B’Shvat — the 15th of Shvat, the New Year of the Trees, also known as Chag Ha’Ilanot, foretells the coming of spring and presents an opportunity to honor the forthcoming season with a heightened taste. Tu B’Shvat is listed in the Mishna (oral law) as the date used for calculating the beginning of the agricultural cycle for the purpose of biblical tithes. Today, it offers us a unique opportunity for insight into our personal growth through an exploration of the connection between trees, their fruits and our spiritual existence. Throughout the centuries, kabbalists have used the tree as a metaphor to understand God’s relationship to the spiritual and physical worlds.
There are two general camps of cookbooks: the kind that you keep on the coffee table and the kind that you keep in the kitchen. The former are big, sumptuous, glossy numbers, usually full of exotic ingredients and complicated recipes. The latter are often less pretty but functional, stained by sauce splatters and muffin batter. It’s rare to find a volume that serves both purposes, but Deb Perelman’s wonderful The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook is one of them.
Fridays meant one thing to me growing up: the smell of my mother’s challah. Sometimes I would come home from school, ready for the weekend, and it would already be there — that comforting aroma of bread and honey. I would quickly run to the oven where the bread was baking and check to its color. When it turned the perfect shade of golden brown, I would remove it.