Alon Shaya

Alon Shaya. Photo: Marianna Massey

Alon Shaya, executive chef and partner at New Orleans restaurants Domenica, Pizza Domenica and Shaya, and named best chef in the South by the James Beard Foundation

For Shaya, challah is central to the Rosh Hashanah festivities.

“I love keeping our traditions alive,” he said. “Challah is such a key part of the celebration — both as a symbol of the year’s cycle, and because it’s just so delicious.”


CHALLAH
Courtesy of Alon Shaya
Yield: 12 seven-ounce rollsIngredients:
For the challah:
  • 1/8 cup instant yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 9 cups bread flour
  • Sea salt or sesame seeds to garnish
  • Egg wash (see below)For the egg wash:
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 yolk
  • 3 tablespoons water
Preparation:
For the challah: 

1. In mixing bowl, whisk together yeast, sugar and warm water. Let rest or “bloom” until the mixture appears foamy (5 minutes).

2. Once foamy, add the flour, salt, remaining sugar, eggs and extra virgin olive oil to the bowl.

3. With an electric mixer’s dough hook attachment, mix on low for 4 minutes. Scrape the bowl, increase the speed to medium and continue to mix until the dough comes together, is smooth and pulls away from the bowl (approximately another 4 minutes).

4. Place the dough in a big greased bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and proof until doubled (about 2 hours).

5. Once the dough is proofed, divide the dough into 12 pieces. Set pieces aside; cover with plastic wrap to avoid the dough from drying and cracking.

6. To shape the dough; take one 7-ounce piece. Roll into a rectangle (approximately 6 inches by 4 inches), fold in the left and right sides by a half-inch and roll up the dough from top to bottom. Seal the dough by pressing the seams with the base of your palm. From here, begin to roll the dough back and forth with your hands, creating an even rope that is 14 inches long. Spiral the dough tightly, forming a coil. Tuck the end of the coil underneath the roll to ensure the roll does not unravel.

7. Once the rolls are shaped, place on a sheet tray. Cover with plastic wrap and let double in size for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Preheat oven to 325 F.

8. Once proofed, egg wash (see below) each roll and sprinkle with sea salt or sesame seeds. Bake for 10 minutes. Rotate pan and continue to bake until golden brown (5 to 10 minutes).

For the egg wash:
1. Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl until smooth and well combined. Store in fridge until ready to use.