Joan Nathan’s “One Hour Challah” with Anise Seed



Last week I had the unique opportunity to be a student in a cooking class. Usually, I am the teacher of such events, but when Joan Nathan is at the helm, I am ready to be schooled.

As an author of 10 cookbooks, a winner of a James Beard award, and columnist for the New York Times, it’s a no-brainer that a woman like me- self-taught chef and cooking teacher whose first cookbook is still to be published- would greatly esteem a woman such a Joan.

One recipe that left me wanting more was a sweet anise seed one-hour challah (ok, maybe 75 minutes from start to finish) that tasted like heaven and only rose for 10 minutes. That means you can walk into the house at 5pm on a Friday and have the scents of fresh warm challah wafting through the house minutes later.

The recipe is from Ms. Nathan’s latest book Quiches, Casseroles and CousCous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France.

But what I loved more than anything, was watching Joan (yes, I’m back to calling her Joan- she’s a very earthy, genuine person without pomp or pretense) braid the challah with 6 different dough ropes. Six! I only use three in my challah recipe because any more than that seemed too fancy.

Joan’s challah braiding technique is pretty simple though. It’s outside over two, next to the last to the outside. In challah circles its called the six-braid, and if you’ve ever wanted to see it done by a pro, here you go, watch this video.

Here is the recipe for what I call “One Hour Challah,” published as “Pain Pétri.”

And a big thank you to Dana Shrager of for hosting a wonderful lesson and luncheon with one of my heroes.

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