A Taste of Challah
September 11, 2007
Tamar Ansh

Home-made bread baking seems to be on the rise judging from the number of new cookbooks available on the subject. But to Jewish women, challah making has always been special. It is one of the three special mitzvot given exclusively to women.

A Taste of Challah: A Comprehensive Guide to Challah and Bread Baking (Feldheim Publishers; May 2007; $34.95 (U.S.) hardcover) by Tamar Ansh is truly one of the most comprehensive books, complete with clear and detailed instructions and over 350 beautiful full-color step-by-step photographs.

It is more than just another bread-making recipe book. I am an experienced bread maker and have taught classes in breadmaking for many years. Nevertheless, I learned so much from Tamar’s book.

Sitting in Tamar’s kitchen, listening to this bubbly, petite woman enthuse about challah baking was a pleasure. Tamar decided that there weren’t any cookbooks that offered detailed photographs and instructions about making challah and set about to de-mystify what she calls the art of challah- and bread-making. Each and every recipe in the book was homemade by Tamar and photographed to prove that the recipes really do work. The different ways of shaping the challahs will amaze you.

In addition to recipes and instructions for everything you ever wanted to know about making and braiding challah, there are wonderful chapters on large challah shapes, small challah shapes, health challah and breads, specialty breads, Middle Eastern breads and accompaniments, and fun and different ideas. Recipes include, in addition to the traditional challahs, Zatar challah, Pecan challah, Yemenite Saluf, flower-shaped challah rolls, kubana, onion croissants and dessert breads and rolls.

Most of the challah recipes begin with “Always Perfect No-egg Challah” and expand on the basic recipe. Many of them, however, are given in amounts to make 6 or more large, 8-10 medium or 30-35 small challahs with no instructions given for smaller quantities. This won’t present a challenge as the recipes can easily be halved.

Whether you’re a novice to challah/bread-baking or an old hand at it, this is a book you’ll definitely want to own. It would also make a wonderful gift for your favorite bride. As the author states, it was published to encourage young women, older women, freshly Jewish, oldly Jewish, newly marrieds, oldly marrieds, and soon-to-be-marrieds everywhere. I would also add, you don’t even have to be Jewish.

  From Issue:8.08
Reviewed by: Sue Epstein
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