The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Section Challah

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jaltsc's picture
jaltsc

Section Challah

All the recipes I see for Challah are the braided form. When growing up in the Bronx we always bought what was referred to as "Section Challah". There were about 5 or 6 two inch sections to the loaf. This was great for thick french toast and sandwiches. The sections separated very easily. I am guessing that the dough was formed into squares and then placed the in bread pan.


Does anyone know what the shaping process was?


Janknitz's picture
Janknitz

it might work to make several balls of dough and line them up in the pan. That should give you a similar effect.

erdosh's picture
erdosh

All challah I know is braided; either single 3-strand braid or a doublell three-strand braid, a tiny braided sitting on top of the main braids.


Cutting the challah into sections makes sense considering the Jewish Sabbah. Religous Jews following strict traditions cannot use knife to cut bread on the day of Sabbah so baking the challah in easily breakable sections make to easy to break off pieces by hand.



George—Culinary Scientist


http://whatrecipesdonttellyou.com


 

Marni's picture
Marni

This is off topic, but since you mentioned it - Religious Jews CAN cut with a knife on the Sabbath, though  some Sephardic Jews have a custom of tearing the loaf.  This is just a custom for that group.


About the loaf- The balls should work great.  Tradtionally challahs at Rosh Hashana (the New Year) are round. One way to make these is to form balls and place them in a round pan to rise and bake.


Marni

Jessica Weissman's picture
Jessica Weissman

My Ukranian-Jewish grandmother baked every Friday for decades.  She started with a 5-pound bag of flour and came out the other end with several loaves of incomparable challah, some mandelbrot, some strudel, and a pan or two of challah rolls. 


Those rolls sound much like the section challah you're talking about.  She formed them as oblong balls and put them into some kind of pan to rise (memory fails me as to precisely what type, and this was all at least 35 years ago).  


When they rose they bumped into each other and became joined-up rolls.  She baked them along with her braided challah but took them out first.


So form some rolls from your challah dough and line them up in the pan, or put them into a round pan like the buttermilk cluster that's often in the sidebar here.  You'll get something similar to the section challah you remember, I'll bet.


And they're definitely authentic - my grandmother emigrated to Philadelphia in 1910 or so and claimed to bake precisely as her mother had (except she didn't have to deal with a wood stove).


Good luck!


-  Jessica

erdosh's picture
erdosh

This is fascinating. Thanks for the good information


George

jaltsc's picture
jaltsc

Thanks for all the feedback.


Just to reminisce a little. In my West Bronx neighborhood there were 2 bakeries. One was Dana's and they baked everything imaginable....Rye breads, pumpernickel, challah, kaiser rolls, butter rolls, etc. They also baked numerous types cakes and pastries. Back then if one wanted to become a baker he had to apprentice for years and be profiscient in everything.Truly master bakers.


The other bakery was the Nelson Avenue Bagel Factory. They turned out thousands of hand rolled bagels each day. During the winters when we had company, I was sent to pick up a few dozen freshly baked bagels. I used to put the bag under my coat and they kept me warm all the way home. In those days the bagels were much smaller than the ones they produce today, and most of them were plain. They were boiled in a lye solution and were extremely chewy.


Both types of bakers belonged to very powerful unions and made good livings. Back then everyone took it for granted that you just had to walk down the street to get great baked goods at reasonable prices. My how times have changed.