Well it’s actually not square – it’s rectangular. I have in my time made a conventional challah plaited and tapering to both ends, as well as a round challah, but now there are only the two of us we prefer our bread to be loaf shaped.
It started when we first got married in 1956. I was a medical student, working a couple of evenings a week as a school dentist, and Josh was working as an assistant in a dental practice in North London. After a quick breakfast, we would each hurry off, not meeting until the evening. It wasn’t until dinner that we had time to sit down together. I had lunch with my fellow medical students in the medical school refectory while Josh would make do with a couple of sandwiches. Even when I had qualified as a doctor, had 4 children, and with Josh had set up an educational toy shop and become a consultant pathologist, dinner time was our time together. To begin with, I had lunch in the consultants’ dining room but the food was so good and the deserts so delicious that I started to put on too much weight. Finally, I gave up lunch altogether.
Even when we both retired, dinner was our main meal and Josh went on having a sandwich for lunch. A rectangular loaf is most convenient for that, and surely a plaited loaf is still a Challah – even if the shape is unconventional. You just have to say or think the word ‘Challah’ and you can imagine the delicious smell.
BTW – I love Poppy Seed cake but I don’t like poppy seeds on Challah or on beigels!!
RECIPE FOR ‘SQUARE’ CHALLAH
Bake 220°C 20 mins
500gm strong white flour
1½ teasp sugar
1 teasp salt
2 lightly beaten eggs made up to 300ml with warm milk
1½ teasp dried yeast or fresh yeast
Milk or egg white/ H2O 1:1 to glaze
I mix this dough in my bread maker using the Basic Dough program. If you mix by hand it probably needs proving here for 40 minutes before rolling out and plaiting
Roll into 3 long sausages about 25cm – helps to moisten the hands from time to time
Plait and place into greased loaf tin or place on baking tray
Prove 40 mins
Glaze with milk or egg white:H2O 1:1
Bake 20 mins 220°C
Glaze once more while baking