Purim is a very joyous holiday, one that involves a feast, and lots and lots of sweets. The most common food associated with Purim is the hamantaschen. It is customary to give food or food baskets to friends, family and relatives; this is known as mishloach manot. Growing up, my brother and I received baskets made of candy that were filled with candied fruits. The baskets looked very pretty but we barely touched them, that is, until the week after the holiday. To use up the fruit in the baskets, my mom would finely chop them and make the most delicious fruit cake.
If you still have some holiday baking ahead of you, I really recommend you try this challah or rosca de Purim, I can assure you that it’ll rank very close to the prune or poppy seed filled hamantaschen, and there will be no leftovers next week to turn into something else. The egg and butter enriched dough is silky and smooth; it’s also very easy to work with. The dough is rolled into two large rectangles, the filling made of onions and poppy seeds are spread over it, then formed into ropes and finally twisted to give it a crown shape which represents Queen Esther’s crown.
This recipe is my favourite, you can see all the step by step photos for making the challah. If you have leftover challah, freeze in a plastic bag for up to three months.
- 2 ½ cups bread flour
- 1 tsp instant yeast
- ½ cup warm water
- 1 large egg (use only half in the dough)
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 cup finely chopped onion
- 2 tbsp butter
- 3 tbsp poppy seeds
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/8 – 1/4 tsp black pepper
To make the dough place the bread flour in the bowl of an electric mixer or food processor, add the instant yeast and mix for a second to incorporate it into the flour, with the motor running, add the warm water, half of the egg, melted butter, salt and sugar. The dough should be soft, silky and easy to knead. It shouldn’t stick to your hands; if the dough looks too dry, add water one tablespoon at a time, if it sticks to your hands and looks too wet, continue kneading and add flour about half a tablespoon at a time.
Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and let it ferment for about an hour. Meanwhile prepare the filling by putting all the ingredients in a small saucepan, cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, and let it cool.
Cut the dough in half; roll each piece into roughly 10 by 8 inches rectangle, spread half the filling on each piece of rolled dough leaving about an inch space on each side. Roll the dough and pinch to make sure it is sealed well, repeat this with the second piece of dough.
Lengthen the ropes by gently rolling them; each piece should be about 20 inches long. Twist the ropes, not too tightly, and bring the two ends together. Transfer the loaf to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, cover the dough with lightly oiled plastic wrap or a clean tea towel, and let it proof for about 50 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350F, brush the challah with the reserved egg and sprinkle with poppy seeds, bake for 35-40 minutes, the loaf should look golden brown. Let it cool and serve slightly warm or at room temperature.