Monday, January 28, 2013

A Tu b'Shevat Treat - Seven Species Challah

Although Tu b’Shevat, the birthday for the trees, was this past Shabbat, after a Sunday full of Tu b’Shevat themed programs and eating, I am inspired to pass along an amazing recipe for the holiday – or for any Shabbat.

When I think of Tu b’Shevat, I think of the 7 species of Israel.  These are the 7 fruits and grains that the Torah tells us are grown in Israel: wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates.  Many people are familiar with the Tu b’Shevat Seder which, modeled after Passover Seder, involves drinking four glasses of wine, but with varying percentages of red and white wine.  The different colors of wine represent the different yearly seasons.   The Seder also involves trying different types of fruits and nuts such as fruits that have an inedible outside and an edible inside (such as pomegranates or pineapple), an edible outside and an inedible inside (such as olives, dates, or apricots), and fruits that have an edible outside and inside (such as grapes, figs or kiwis). 

There are lots of recipes that you can make that would involve a few of the above mentioned species.  However, to find a recipe that includes all 7 is very impressive!  Here is a recipe for 7 species Challah.  Some of the ingredients are unique for Challah – but I promise it is really worth trying!!
Seven Species Challah
2 packages dry yeast
2 cups warm water
1/2 cup pomegranate juice
1/2 cup honey
1 Tablesppon salt
3/4 cup olive oil
4 eggs
1 cup dried fruit (1/2 cup chopped dates, 1/4 cup raisins, 1/4 cup chopped figs)
1 cup barley flour
7-8 cups bread flour
Dissolve yeast in warm water and pomegranate juice in a large bowl.  Add honey and let stand 2 minutes until yeast foams.
Add salt, oil, eggs and mix well.
Gradually add flour, 2 cups at a time mixing after each addition.  About ½ way through, add dried fruit to mixture.  As mixture gets stiff, use floured hands and begin kneading.  Knead for seven minutes turning dough over often.
Let rise in greased bowl until double in size.  (Approximately one hour.)
Punch dough down.
Divide challah into thirds.  Shape each 3rd as desired (braided for traditional, can also do a round or pull apart challah).   Let rise again until doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Brush with glaze. (one beaten egg).  Bake 30-45 mins. Or until brown.  Remove from pans and cool on racks.