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Star of David Challah for Simchat Torah

The perfect celebratory challah for Simchat Torah.
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October 5, 2023
Photos by Judy Elbaum

Judy Elbaum, the Founder of Leave it to Bubbe, has been baking challahs nearly every week for more than 20 years.

“Challah baking for me is a weekly ritual that is at once joyful and therapeutic,” Elbaum told the Journal. “l love the way it connects me to my heritage and provides such wholesome sustenance for my loved ones.”

This year, for Simchat Torah, she is baking a Star of David challah. 

“It is the perfect celebratory challah for Simchat Torah, when we gather together to rejoice as we complete the annual cycle of reading from the Torah.” 

During the COVID lockdowns, when Elbaum was trying to set goals to help her through difficult times, she started studying the weekly parsha. 

“Torah study has become a very meaningful and enriching part of my week,” she said. 

Elbaum and her husband were cleaning out a pantry, and behind food props and stacks of dishes, she discovered a Nordic Ware Star of David Bundt pan. She ordered it online years ago and forgot about it.  

“l love the way it connects me to my heritage and provides such wholesome sustenance for my loved ones.” – Judy Elbaum

When her husband suggested she use the pan to make a Star of David challah, Elbaum was skeptical, but decided to give it a try.  She was delighted with the results. 

“Star of David Bundt challah has brought so much joy to my family,” she said. 

And everyone got into it. 

“The original idea came from my husband, my grandchildren joyously punched down the dough after its first rise, my son-in-law suggested making French toast with the leftovers and my daughter suggested making toads in a hole, which are fried eggs inside a slice of challah.”

If you’re looking for a showstopper challah for the holiday, try Elbaum’s recipe

Star of David Bundt Challah for Simchat Torah

1 package of. yeast (I use Fleischmann’s Active Dry ¼ ounce pkg — make sure it’s not rapid rise)
1 cup warm water
1 and 1/2 tsp sugar
3 cups plus 2 Tbsp bread flour (I use King Arthur’s unbleached bread flour)
¼ cup sugar
1½ tsp salt
1 egg
2 tsp oil (I use canola oil)

Glaze for the Braid

1 egg
1 tablespoon water

Glaze for the Star of David Bundt

¼ cup honey

 amount of dough. I make one Star of David challah and one braided challah.  Line an insulated cookie sheet with parchment paper for the braided challah.  

Spray well a Nordic Ware Star of David Bundt pan with Pam or other non-stick cooking spray.

Place yeast in warm water with 1½ teaspoons of sugar and allow to proof (bubble up a bit so you know that the yeast are alive) for 5 to 10 minutes.

Place flour, ¼ cup sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse a few times to mix.

Beat egg and oil in a bowl, then add to water/yeast mixture.

Start the food processor. Pour in liquids. Combine for about 15 seconds. It should be well combined.

Once dough is combined, process for another 40 seconds. It will be stickier than when you knead by hand.  

Remove from the food processor and knead just a few times, adding a little flour if necessary to prevent sticking.

Place in a bowl which has been lightly greased with oil or sprayed with Pam, cover with a kitchen towel or cloth, and leave it in a warm place. Allow dough to rise until doubled in bulk, about two hours. 

Punch the dough down and divide in half. Roll half of the dough into a ball, then roll it into a thick cylinder that will fit around the tube of the Bundt pan. Place the cylinder onto the base of the pan and press the two ends together. You should have something that looks like a circle around the tube of the pan.

Press the dough lightly onto the Star of David at the base of the pan.  It’s OK if the dough does not totally cover the Star of David. It will spread as it bakes. 

Divide the other half of the dough into 3 pieces, then roll each piece into a 12” to 14” strand. Braid the three strands together into a simple braid, then place on the insulated cookie sheet. (Insulated cookie sheets prevent the burnt bottom of bread and parchment paper will prevent sticking).

Cover the Star of David Bundt pan and the braid and allow to rise again for about 45 minutes.  

Beat 1 egg with 1 teaspoon water and with a pastry brush. Brush the glaze gently on the braided dough before baking.

Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for about 30- 35 minutes. 

Challahs should come out burnished to a deep golden brown.

You will glaze the Star of David Challah after it comes out of the oven and unmold it from the Bundt pan. Heat the honey briefly in a small pot until it is melted, then brush on top of the Star of David for a shiny presentation.

Some tips for success: 

Be sure to preheat the oven and that it is calibrated to the correct temperature. You can buy an oven thermometer; it will let you know if your oven is at the correct temperature and if it is not, then you can adjust it.

Make sure to use bread flour; it has a higher protein content and consequently a higher gluten content, which provides the structure needed for a good bread. 

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