My Friday Evenings in the Galilee
Illustration by Sophia Vincent Guy
I remember Friday mornings in Tel Aviv - the bustle of the city among the crowded cafe terraces, the tempting smells of the shouk, the joyous queues in front of the fresh fruit juice kiosks, the smiles of the passers-by…
If there was a special device to measure the energy level on these mornings, I'm sure it would have exploded at the highest score. It was impossible not to feel how different this effervescent morning was. If Tel Aviv does not always know how to keep Shabbat, it remembers it perfectly every week.
It’s another thing when one lives in a small community, like mine in the Galilee.
Nature does not change its decor on Friday mornings or on Saturdays, for that matter. The streets are as quiet as usual. No agitation or flow of the crowds.
It might be a little more crowded at the local grocery store, where the carts get fully packed. In mine there is a precious little cube in red and gold. Thanks to it, among other things, I know that my house will be filled with a special smell and atmosphere today.
Back at home I get busy in the kitchen. A little nursery rhyme from the kindergarten plays in my head now and again: “lalush lalush et habatsek mukdam mukdam baboker..." (kneading, kneading the dough early in the morning…) That’s what I do.
How many women in the world will be making these movements today? The magic mixture is rising under a clean towel. Then it’s braided and baked. My whole Friday is there, in the smell that escapes from the oven and envelops the house.
Ingredients (makes 3 large challah or 2 challah + 10 mini chocolate pastries):
1 cube (50 g) of fresh yeast
1 kg all-purpose flour
2 eggs + 1 egg yolk for egg wash
100 ml vegetable oil
80 g sugar
1 tbsp. kosher salt
1.5-2 cups lukewarm water
1 chocolate bar, broken into smaller pieces (optional)
- Heat the oven to 200°C.
- In a large bowl mix the yeast cube in lukewarm water with your fingertips until it liquefies.
Add flour, eggs, oil and sugar.
- Knead while adding lukewarm water by half cups so a non-sticky ball forms (if too sticky add a little flour, if too dry add more water).
- Add salt and knead a few more times.
- Set aside to rise under a clean towel for at least 1 hour or until dough has doubled in size.
- Punch down the risen dough and transfer to a floured surface. Knead a few times.
- Divide the dough into three equal pieces.
For 3 challahs:
Divide each into 3 parts and roll into long snakes. Using 3 snakes at a time pinch them together at one end, braid and pinch again at the end. Place on a baking sheet, cover with a clean towel and set aside for 15 min for the second rise.
For 2 challahs and mini-pastries:
Make the challahs as instructed above. Divide one third of the dough into 10 pieces; flatten each one to make a circle. Put 1 chocolate piece on the dough and pinch the sides together to make a ball. Set aside for the second rise.
- When ready to bake, brush with egg yolk and bake the challahs for 25 minutes and the mini-pastries for 15-18 min or until golden and the bread makes a hollow sound when thumped on the bottom.
- Transfer to a cooling rack.