Every year on Rosh Hashanah I make challah. And year after year, everyone tells me they’ve never had this kind of challah. I could never understand what made my challah so unique- it’s round and has raisins and honey, just like all rosh hashanah challahs. I send them home with the recipe, but they tell me that when they make it on their own, it never comes out like mine. I kid you not, some have even offered to pay me for a challah delivery service.
Mind you, I have absolutely NO IDEA how to make bread.
I obey Judy Zeidler’s instructions for Honey Challah and pray the whole time I am not messing it up. I don’t understand the principles of yeast and flour and am amazed each year when the thing actually rises into golden beauty.
So how does a non-baking, dough-fearing, gluten-avoiding girl make the best challah in the whole world? I love the dough. It’s the only element of bread-making I have control over– how much I love it– so I put my heart into action.
I start by smelling it, breathing in deep, allowing the scent of fresh yeast to travel into my bloodstream and transport me. No man, woman or child is immune to the seductive power of fresh dough. With one whiff I am won over and my love for the dough is genuine.
I tell the dough I love it. Both out loud and from the inside. I knead it with strength and affection as if I were reinventing myself in it, as a new and perfect being. With the movements of my hands, I placate every worry the dough might feel. I tell the dough I love it again. And again. Over and over.
This is why my challah is so good. It tastes like what we all crave more deeply, more desperately than anything else in this entire universe: pure unabashed love.