Vegan Challah = Traditional Water Challah (i.e., Israeli “Hasidic” Challah): The Challah From The Famous Viznitz Bakery In Bnei Brak (Recipe) #Pareve

challah with knife - Vegan Hasidic Water Challah

 

Recipe: Traditional Vegan “Water Challah” from Viznitz

Spoiler: I will disclose here, to the English-reading world, the holy recipe of the famed Hasidic vegan challah (the Jewish Sabbath and holiday bread) from the illustrious Viznitz1 bakery in the religious town of Bnei Brak, Israel. You may remember Bnei Brak from the Pesach (Passover), Haggudah (Jewish text that sets forth the order of the Passover ceremonial dinner), in which the town features prominently. Continue reading for more.

People call this type of challah “water challah” because this Shabbos (Sabbath) and Yom Tov (holiday) bread contains no eggs, and is completely pareve (without milk, meat, or their derivatives.) This means that it is fully vegan as long as you brush it with oil instead of an egg wash, though both are traditional. The egg is more for the home baker, and water is quick, easy, and cheap to use at the bakery. Indeed, long before veganism was a widespread phenomenon, Jewish tradition had its own veganism.

This recipe became my family’s go-to vegan water challah recipe. When we need a vegan challah, this is what we use. We like it so much that I decided to share it with you. Back when we lived in Bnei Brak, we often bought these wonderful challos from the legendary Viznitz bakery. (We also have our traditional marvelous eggy challah recipe — see the previously posted main article on classic eggy challah from Vienna.2 This entry is to be seen as an addendum to that.)

4 strings braid raw - Vegan Hasidic Water Challah
The typical quick and easy bakery braid: 4 strands braided raw (see instructions below) on a perforated aluminum baking sheet (Vegan Hasidic Water Challah – Viznitz Style)

Sometimes, water challah means challah with a distinct sourdough flavor and added potatoes to help the action of the yeast. We plan to come back on that type of water challah in a future post, but not this time. Here we’ll stay close to the classic Israeli so-called “Hasidic” water challah which, again, is totally vegan.

Why “Hasidic” Challah?

This is the typical challah of Bnei Brak’s famed Viznitz bakery. Bnei Brak is the aforementioned Haredi, meaning Jewish ultra-orthodox neighborhood in the suburbs of Tel Aviv.

Bnei Brak’s prominent Viznitz bakery is named after Vizhnitz (ויז׳ניץ or וויזשניץ), the Hasidic dynasty that today has one of its main courts with its grand rabbi in Bnei Brak. (Vizhnitz is the Yiddish name of Vyzhnytsia, a town in present-day Ukraine. Back when the movement was founded in the 19th century, it was a village in Austrian Bukovina, the eastern tip of Galicia.)

The challah is called “Hasidic” in Israel, likely because this is the type of recipe that the bakeries in Bnei Brak, like the famous Viznitz Bakery, are making. [Hasidic challah (i.e. water challah) – Vered’s Israeli Cooking]3

And because the Viznitz bakery in Bnei Brak really makes stunning challah — fragrant, brown, almost burnt, sweet — they are beloved by everyone, religious or not, Hasidic or not, inhabitants of Bnei Brak or not. So their fame spread over the whole of Israel and even abroad.

Being a food blogger of sorts, and having already published an article about challah and its connection to Vienna, I searched high and low for the recipe of these Viznitz challos. Obviously, I also googled around and, after almost giving up, found a Viznitz bakery challah recipe that had been published online after apparently appearing with the consent of the Viznitz bakery’s owners in the Israeli newspaper ישראל היום (Israel Today).4

I made a number of small and absolutely minor adjustments and changes to the published challah recipe to come up with a very accurate challah, replicating as much as possible the acclaimed Viznitz challos. The effort was worth it, because these Viznitz-style challos are definitely terrific!

Chanital Harel summerized the recipe on her blog (link: https://lemonginger.blogspot.com/2012/10/blog-post_1150.html)
This is fellow food blogger Chanita Harel’s summary of the Viznitz bakery’s challah recipe as it appeared in “Israel HaYom” — See the translation in note #4 above. (link: https://lemonginger.blogspot.com/2012/10/blog-post_1150.html)

The owners of the Viznitz bakery are not afraid to make their recipe public because they say that even with a recipe in hand, the home baker will not be able to reproduce an authentic Viznitz bakery challah. Too much depends on tiny details, including their trusty old mixers and ovens that date back to the 1950s. And they are certainly right, although the final product, our very own Viznitz-bakery-style challos, are stunning and uncannily similar to the original real Viznitz bakery challos! 

“Hasidic” Water Challah in Vienna

After the downfall of the Habsburg Empire after 1918, and following the end of World War I, many Jews — including quite a few Hasidim — fled to the capital city of Vienna. At the time of the collapse of the Habsburg monarchy and Austria’s first republic (1910s–1930s), an exodus of refugees began in the eastern regions of the empire, in Galicia. All arrived at Vienna’s northern railway station in Leopoldstadt, where Vienna’s Jewish neighborhood is located. Among those newcomers, certainly must have been some Vizhnitzer Hasidim.

Orthodox Jews from Galicia at the Karmeliterplatz in Vienna’s second district Leopoldstadt, 1915. These so-called “Eastern Jews” were a critical point in the rise of anti-Semitic feelings. ( ÖNB Picture Archives and Graphics Department of the Austrian National Library)
Orthodox Jews from Galicia at the Karmeliterplatz in Vienna’s second district Leopoldstadt, 1915. These so-called “Eastern Jews” were a critical point in the rise of anti-Semitic feelings. (ÖNB Picture Archives and Graphics Department of the Austrian National Library link: https://onb.digital/result/10B9BCFF)

Vienna’s reputation as a safe haven and a cosmopolitan place of refuge and security was short-lived. Most Jewish Viennese have been subsequently robbed, brutalized, chased, or murdered by the Nazis.

Public humiliation of Jews in Vienna: Two Jewish men (center, and right in overcoat), carrying paint and brushes, were forced by Austrian Nazis and the Viennese bystanders to paint “Jude” on the front of Jewish-owned businesses. Vienna, Austria, 1938. (ÖNB Picture Archives and Graphics Department of the Austrian National Library link: https://onb.digital/result/10EC1C8D)

The handful of old Viennese Jews who managed to survive the Holocaust and World War II couldn’t stand to continue living in the quarters where they’d experienced the trauma of the annihilation of European Jewry.

The area is appropriately nicknamed “Island of Broken Glas” (“Glasscherbeninsel” in German) referring to the November pogroms of 1938 during which most Jewish life in Vienna was destroyed.

Today, large segments of Vienna’s Jewish bakery patrons stem from the Ingarishe, the Hungarian-speaking crown lands of the defunct Habsburg empire, namely regions around cities like Munkacs, Satmar, Sziget, or Polish, or Galicianer regions such as Viznitz. Most of these families moved to Vienna after World War II or in the wake of 1956, the year of the Hungarian uprising against the communist regime and the domestic policies imposed by the Soviet Union. These newly arrived Jews didn’t know pre-Shoah Jewish Vienna.

For the purpose of this blog entry, I tried to interview Vienna’s principal Jewish bakery’s senior boss, Reb (Yiddish or Hebrew honorific traditionally used for Orthodox Jewish men) Yidl Lichtenstein, about the link between Vienna and water challos. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get much out of him. As far as I know, “Hasidic” water challah was the main challah sold by what was the only community bakery for many years, at least since the Shoah. The baker, like any business, makes what the customers demand, says Reb Lichtenstein. So, parts of the Hareidi population living in Vienna today are descendants of survivors of the Shoah that seemingly — since this is what the bakery mainly sells — have the tradition or predilection to eat water challah, which is challah without eggs.

I was told by Reb Lichtenstein, that another important motive driving the baker to make water challos is that dough without eggs is much cheaper to produce. Eggs are expensive, and the cost must be driven higher by the fact that you have to check each and every one for blood spots, etc., for them to be kosher.

The plain but delicious water challah sold in Vienna’s main Jewish bakery is braided with four strands, just like the main challos in the Viznitz bakery in Bnei Brak. One reason for this is straightforward: four strands are very quick and easy to braid. In fact, you only need two strands for that. (See my illustration on how to braid a four-strand challah in the recipe section of this post.) This trick provides distinctive bakery challos that are bigger and fatter on one end.

Reb Lichtenstein came to Vienna from the opposite direction of Galicia, namely straight from New York. When he took over the bakery some thirty or forty years ago from Reb Engländer, the founder of the bakery, he introduced a novelty. This new product was an instant classic: it was the so-called “haimishe” (homey)5 challah, which differs from the regular water challah in that it is baked in loave pans and has a subtly richer dough. Just the same, it is still a vegan water challah.

Though these vegan water challos constitute the cornerstones of the product range at Vienna’s main Jewish bakery, there’s a third type of challah — the so-called “special” challah, which is the classic eggy challah. But that’s not where the main business is.

Vienna’s simple, unpretentious water challos from the Ohel Moishe bakery aren’t at all sweet. That’s why I allude to them as plain. They are very Yekkish. (A Yekke, or Jecke, is a Jew of German-speaking origin. They have a tradition of eating unsweetened water challos.)

6 strings braid baked - Vegan Hasidic Water Challah
The classic braid for the Jewish homemaker: Six-stranded challah baked on a perforated aluminum baking sheet (Vegan Hasidic Water Challah – Viznitz Style)

Vienna’s challos at the Ohel Moishe community bakery are not made from the same dough as Vienna’s popular Kaiser rolls, but they’re close. They’re just a hint richer, with a bit more sugar and just a tad more oil, according to Reb Lichtenstein. (The Kaiser rolls, Kaisersemmel in German, are a world-renowned local food specialty that also warrants its own separate post.)

Why Water Challah?

Why is it necessary to leave eggs out of the challah dough, beyond the budgetary considerations of a professional baker? It certainly wasn’t because someone tried to keep a vegan diet in the remote past of Jewish History. A vegetarian diet, yes: Jews have been associated with vegetarianism since Biblical times. But less so, to my knowledge, with veganism.

The reason that Jews would prefer eggless challah is intimately related to Jewish dietary religious laws. Because some sages, and notably those of the Sefardi Jews,6 think that by leaving out the eggs, the challos are less likely to be mezoines, i.e., more of a cake.

The reasoning is two-fold, and I’m afraid it’s a bit technical:7

First, regarding the eggs in challah. The ruling of the Beis Yoisef (a long and detailed commentary on Jewish law written by Rabbi Joseph Karo)8 is that one is to recite, “Boirei Minei Mezoinos” (the blessing said over cake etc.) on challah kneaded with fruit juice and/or eggs (Code of Jewish Law: Shilchon Urich Oirach Chaim 168:7).9 Thus for Lechem Mishneh (the two loaves of challah) on Shabbos, Sephardim should use only water challos and not egg challos. Thus, this became the widespread minhag of the Sephardic community.

I’m told by our ruv (a learned Jewish guide) — one of Vienna’s leading chief rabbis on the subject of Kashrus (Jewish dietary laws), the venerable Reb Avruham Yoineh Schwartz, Av Beis Din (rabbinical chief justice) — that this is not our Hasidic custom. So rest assured, if you are Hasidic or simply an Ashkenazy Jew,10 eggy challah is not only fine for the Shabbos blessings over bread, but probably even preferred.

There is also the issue of sweetness in challah. The Shilchon Urich (ad. loc.) rules that dough baked with sweeteners such as honey or sugar is considered to be cake and not bread if the sweet flavor is discernible, and therefore requires the brucheh (blessing) of Mezoinos.

Despite that, most Ashkenazim follow the Ramu (Acronym for Rabbi Moses Isserles known for his halachic commentaries, as pertaining to Jewish Law, notes on the Shilchon Urich, especially regarding Jewish customs)11 who holds that one recites Hamoitzi (the blessing said over bread) over sweetened bread.

Most Hasidim do indeed eat bread sweetened to a certain extent. The precise measure relies on the baker’s taste buds says my wife, who is a mumcheh (specialist) regarding all things challah. She reminds me that if, when tasting the raw dough, sweetness is perceptible, we consider the challah to be a cake.

In summary: if it’s more like a cake than bread, the blessing before eating would have to be the blessing said over cake. Implications in religious law are all over the map.

For these reasons, Sefardi and Yekkishe German Jews not only don’t bake challah with eggs: they also use less sugar in their challos. Some Mediterranean Jews make savory challah bread with olive oil, caraway, anise seeds, and what-not. Even so, this is a sweet haimishe Galicianer12 Hasidic water challah recipe.

*

Challah As a Blessing

Sweet or not, eggy or not, baking challah is a religious act that’s not just for Hasidim. It is considered an important blessing in the Jewish home. Challah is a traditionally powerful woman’s mitzvah that brings abundant brucheh (blessing) into the Jewish home.

To mention just one aspect, challah is related to the biblical manna, specifically the two portions that were miraculously provided by the heavens above on Erev Shabbos (Friday, the day before Shabbos) to sustain his chosen people throughout the day of rest without them having to work — because collecting the mon (manna) on Shabbos would have been a meluchah (forbidden work) on Shabbos itself.13

You may decide to include personal tefillos and techinos (prayers and supplications) as well as a meditation of your own before and during the making of challah. (Most prayer books include special dedicated sections.)

The Hasidic Challah Knife

In addition to all these blessings, this year, for Rosh Hashuneh (the Jewish New Year), the rabbi himself (ours is the “Chernobler rebbe,” the grand rabbi of Chernobyl from Bnei Brak) has blessed and personally sent us a sharp, non-serrated challah knife to cut a good favorable portion of challah! This is the same as asking Hashem (God) to provide us with an abundant parnusseh (livelihood). What a segulah (a charm that will lead to a change in one’s luck, fortune, or destiny)!

A look in the seminal Minhag Yisrueil Toireh He (The Custom of Israel is Torah) reminds us that it is in the Rosh Hashanah prayers that one says “hachotech chayim l’chol chai” (He who cuts life to every living being). “Chotech,” (חתך), which means to “cut,” is the name of the angel in charge of livelihood.

Also, in everyday prayer one says the final letters of the Hebrew words, פותח את ידך, “You open up Your hand” (Psalms 145:16), spell “chotech.”

Additionally, the word that follows in the verse, “u’masbe’a” – “and satisfy [the desire of every living being]” has the numerical value of 428 – the same value as the word “chotech.”

For this, knives are a customary Hasidic gift for Rosh Hashanah. And as challah represents the mon, a challah knife is even twice as appropriate a gift for Rosh Hashanah as a regular knife.

Note that the challah knife that the rabbi sent us is not serrated because the knife for the karbunes (offerings) in the temple was not permitted to be a serrated knife, and was required to be very sharp.

Furthermore, note that we do not use a challah board! This is because, for one, the Chernobler rabbi doesn’t use a challah board, and because secondly, a challah board might be considered a separate table, which has halachic implications. Thirdly, there are kabbalistic reasons to cut directly on the table where one eats.

Cutting challah with the rabbi's non-serrated challah knife directly on a shabbos tablecloth without a challah board (Vegan Hasidic Water Challah - Viznitz Style)
Cutting challah with the rabbi’s non-serrated challah knife directly on a Shabbos tablecloth without a challah board (Vegan Hasidic Water Challah – Viznitz Style)

With all this said, I hope you will enjoy trying out this Galicianer traditional vegan Hasidic water challah recipe from the legendary Viznitz bakery in Bnei Brak.

Traditional Vegan “Water Challah” Vizhnitz Style 

 

A Foolproof Recipe

This really is a foolproof recipe! You can’t fail if you follow it to the letter. I guarantee it! Try it, and let us know how it went in the comments. 

Use Scales!

To bake successfully use a scale! Do yourself a favor and use a scale — use grams not cups and spoons. Bakeries always use scales for a reason.

Also, this recipe easily scales.

Taking challah (from the dough)

The act of taking a little piece of dough and consecrating it as the priestly portion is called “separating challah.” The name of the whole bread derives from there. To learn more about the surprising role that Vienna plays in that story, go to my main article on challah: “Challah at Ya from Vienna!” The Austrian Origins of The Classic Jewish Braided Eggy Yeast Bread (Recipe) #IconicJewishFood  

To know exactly how challah is separated, turn to your/a ruv (a rabbi, especially one who holds a position of authority or who acts as a personal mentor) or see Chabad’s step-by-step guide on the subject for more instructions.14

Sugar Level

Use as much sugar as you like! The amount given in this recipe is the amount of the original Hasidic water challah dough recipe from the Viznitz bakery. For our personal use at home, we cut the amount by as much as 50 percent, and substitute with the equivalent amount of artificial sweetener! 

To still be aible to use the brucheh hamoitzi (blessing over bread), the rule with sugar is that you shouldn’t taste sweetness in the raw dough. Please refer to the article above for more details.

Sifting and Checking Flour

Some say that one should not give up sifting the flour, and not only for kosher reasons: the result is supposedly a softer, airier, super light and fluffy challah. We could never verify this. In the few instances when we’ve used flour that one can use without checking or sifting — here in Vienna this is the case for flour from the brand Finis — there was no perceptible difference.

Nevertheless, I keep up the Jewish tradition of sifting the flour. Call me a maniac, a die-hard strict orthodox, or an anal rigid kosher purist…

In any case, honestly, here in Vienna, we never found any infestation in our flour.

But, if your flour is clumpy or you live in a humid climate, or if your flour has been sitting for a while and might thus be infected by bugs, sift your flour! 

To sift the flour for insects or worms one must use a 0,212 mm or 70 mesh size flour sieve. There are very fine sifters approved by the Badatz Edah HaChareidis of Jerusalem (Haredi Jewish communal organization) available online.15 There are tricks to speed up the process.16 Far more practical and user-friendly are the Israeli electrical flour sifters similar to the so-called “Pelematic” or the like.17 We love ours.

The Seven Ingredients 

For 1kg (2.2lbs/35.3oz.) of flour – This doesn’t yield enough dough to qualify for separating challah (the priestly portion): 

  • 500g (2 cups + 2 tablespoons) lukewarm water (between around 105ºF/40.5ºC and 115ºF/46ºC)
  • 15g (1 tablespoon + 1 3/4 teaspoons) instant dry yeast 
  • 130g granulated sugar (or as much as you like – see the article for more details)
  • 30g canola or sunflower oil
  • 20g fine salt (iodine-free to avoid bitter taste)
  • 9g baking powder
  • 1kg sifted pastry flour or all-purpose wheat flour (In Austria take “glatt/universal Typ 480” or “glatt Typ 700” / In Israel קמח לבן or קמח רב תכליתי).

(on Rosh Hashanah you may want to add raisins)

If using 1.666kg (3.7lbs/58.8oz.) flour – This is the minimum amount of dough to separate challah with a brucheh (a blessing):18

  • 830g (3 1/2 cups + 1 teaspoon) lukewarm water (between around 105ºF/40.5ºC and 115ºF/46ºC)
  • 25g active dry yeast 
  • 220g granulated sugar (or as much as you like – see the article for more details)
  • 50g canola oil
  • 33g fine salt (iodine-free to avoid bitter taste)
  • 15g baking powder
  • 1.666kg sifted pastry flour or all-purpose wheat flour (In Austria take “glatt/universal Typ 480” or “glatt Typ 700” / In Israel קמח לבן or קמח רב תכליתי). 

(on Rosh Hashanah you may want to add raisins)

Topping

  • Traditionally, this is glazed with plain (lukewarm) water or an egg wash (1 egg beaten with a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of water). Like the famous bakeries in Bnei Brak, we prefer to keep it vegan and brush it with water only. Some people prefer oil (or prepared tea). Some people opt for maple syrup or even thinned apricot jam.
  • 80g/133g traditional poppy seeds and/or sesame seeds, or everything-but-the-bagel seasoning.

The Procedure 

  1. Read through this recipe before you start. Do not skip this step!
  2. While preparing challah and other foods for Shabbos, it is customary to say, “lichvoid Shabbos koidesh” (“in honor of the holy Shabbos”)
  3. Heat the oven to 113°F/45°C (convection, no fan).
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, mix the lukewarm water with the yeast.
  5. Mix in the sugar and the oil.
  6. Sift the flour with a sifter if you didn’t do it yet. (Weigh the flour, as amounts indicated often include the weight of the packaging!)
  7. It is preferable to use the dough hook of a stand mixer on low speed to add the flour.
  8. Immediately drizzle in salt and baking powder.
  9. Continue to combine everything for 2 to 3 minutes on low speed (don’t worry if it’s a little bit sticky).
  10. If you want to taste the dough for sweetness, now is the moment. (See the article above for more details.)
  11. On medium speed, knead the dough for 18 minutes.
  12. Take out the dough from the mixing bowl onto a working surface. Again, don’t worry if the dough is a bit sticky and firm. If necessary, use a dough scraper to get the dough from the work surface.
  13. Stretch and fold the dough over (see illustration in the main article). Use your hands to push and tear the ball of dough, then fold it over itself and give the dough a quarter turn. Stretch fold and turn again for a couple of minutes if you can.
  14. Make a ball out of the dough and put it back into the bowl. (If you want you can cover the dough. I don’t bother. Certainly, don’t grease it or dust it with flour.)
  15. If you want to take challah, now is the moment. (See note above for more details.)
  16. Place the bowl into the warm oven.
  17. Let rise for 45 minutes in the 113°F/45°C oven, or until it has nearly doubled in size.
  18. Divide the dough into as many balls as strands needed to braid the loaves (one for a spiral, two, or six strands).
  19. With a rolling pin, flatten a ball of dough. (If using raisins, scatter them on top of the piece of dough). Roll up the dough onto itself, then shape it into a strand that is slightly tapered at the ends.
  20. Make sure that the oven is still set to 113°F/45°C.
  21. Braid the challah (see illustration for six strands in the main article) and place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. (For optimum results, use a perforated baking sheet or, at least, a perforated baking mat.) Also, there is no need to grease your tabletop or use flour to facilitate braiding.
    Easy instructions for 4-strands-braid challah - Start top left - Repeat step 2 & 3 (Vegan Hasidic Water Challah - Viznitz Style)
    Easy instructions for 4-strands-braided challah: Start top left. Repeat steps 2 and 3. (Vegan Hasidic Water Challah – Viznitz Style)
  22. Let the braided loaves rise in the warm oven for another 25 minutes, or until they have risen again. To see if the dough has risen enough, press on it lightly with your finger. If the hole slowly fills in slowly by no more than half, the dough is ready. If, on the other hand, the hole fills in completely and quickly, the dough needs more time. If you press on it and the dough deflates, you have over-proofed it. (To remedy this, go back to step 14.)
  23. Take the loaves from the oven and place them in a draft-free spot.
  24. Preheat the oven to 440°F/225°C (regular convection setting, no fan).
  25. If using, prepare the egg wash by mixing everything together in a small bowl with a fork so as to create as few air bubbles as possible.
  26. Once the oven is ready, very gently brush the lukewarm water, the oil, the egg wash, the maple syrup, or the thinned apricot jam onto the loaves.
  27. Sprinkle with sesame and/or poppy seeds. (If using both, start with sesame.)
  28. Bake the loaves on the middle rack, or if they don’t fit, divide them onto two racks. After 15 minutes, change the position of the baking sheets so the bottom one is on top, and the top one is on the bottom. Continue to bake for another 15 minutes or until golden brown (or slightly burnt). Since baking times will vary depending on the size of the loaves, it’s best to use an instant-read thermometer: remove the loaves from the oven when their internal temperature is just above 195°F/90°C.
  29. Take them off the baking sheet and let them cool completely on a rack.
Different baked water challos on a rack to cool (Vegan Hasidic Water Challah - Viznitz Style)
Different baked water challos on a rack to cool (Vegan Hasidic Water Challah – Viznitz Style)

Freezing Challah 

This freezes perfectly well. Just put them in a freezer bag. To defrost, simply put them out on the countertop still in their zipped-up freezer bag.

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Footnotes

  1. Viznitz (ויז׳ניץ or וויזשניץ) is sometimes transliterated as Visnitz, Vishnitz or Vizhnitz.
  2. “Challah at Ya from Vienna!” The Austrian Origins of The Classic Jewish Braided Eggy Yeast Bread (Recipe) #IconicJewishFood Link: https://jewishviennesefood.com/challah-at-ya-from-vienna-the-austrian-origins-of-the-classic-jewish-braided-eggy-yeast-bread-recipe-iconicjewishfood/
  3. Hasidic challah (i.e. water challah) – Vered’s Israeli Cooking link: https://veredguttman.com/index.php/2022/02/04/chasidic-challah/#:~:text=Hasidic%20challah%20(also%20known%20as,process%20of%20proofing%20the%20yeast.
  4. Here’s a rough translation of this article:

    Disclosure: Vishnitz’s Secret Recipe

    Hizki Cohen agreed to reveal the secret recipe for Vizhnitz challos and he is not worried. “We use unique equipment and techniques so that it will not come out the same. We have never tried to change the original taste of the challah. We work with the same mixers and ovens from 1950 – the work pattern remained the same.” Still, for those who like challenges, and especially for those who like to eat – here is the recipe:

    Ingredients

    3 kg of flour. 1.5 liters of water. 400 grams of sugar. 50 grams of salt. 90 grams of yeast. 90 grams of margarine. 25 grams of baking powder.

    Preparation

    1. Mix the ingredients and leave to rise. 2. After the dough has risen, punch it down — then it must rise again. 3. Divide the dough into strips and braid them. 4. Transfer for a third rise in a moist place. 5. Sprinkle sesame seeds on the challah and bake for about half an hour in an oven preheated to 180 degrees.

    Important tips

    “The challah are not refrigerated and the rise is natural and very moist,” explains Cohen, “and most importantly — we rarely use baking enhancers of any kind that extend the shelf life of the challah and diminish its taste.”

    What do you eat challah with? Cohen usually wipes hummus with it, others prefer butter, but his uncle Fisher and Menachem Horowitz shudder just at the thought “(this is blasphemy” says Peter Fisher) and reach a cross-denominational agreement: “The perfect taste is Challot Vizhnitz with Hraime or gefilte fish. Only those who taste the combination will understand.”

    Link: https://www.bhol.co.il/forums/topic.asp?topic_id=2924487&whichpage=#R_6

  5. Yiddish. adjective. having qualities associated with a homelike atmosphere of a Jewish home; simple, warm, and cozy, and mainly frum (religious), Haredi (ultra-orthodox) even.
  6. Wikipedia link: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sephardi_Jews
  7. …and the best thing is not to take my word for it, instead study the matter yourself, and/or ask a local Jewish authority.
  8. Wikipedia link https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beit_Yosef_(book)
  9. Wikipedia link https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shulchan_Aruch and https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orach_Chayim
  10. Ashkenazi Jews: Jews who lived in the Rhineland valley and in neighboring France before their migration eastward to Slavic lands. Wikipedia link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashkenaz
  11. Wikipedia link https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moses_Isserles
  12. “Galicia […] is a historical and geographic region spanning what is now southeastern Poland and western Ukraine.” Wikipedia link:  https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galicia_(Eastern_Europe) “The Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria, also known as Austrian Galicia or colloquially Austrian Poland, was a constituent possession of the Habsburg monarchy in the historical region of Galicia in Eastern Europe.” Wikipedia link: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingdom_of_Galicia_and_Lodomeria
  13. One of the 39 categories of activity that Jewish law identifies as prohibited by biblical law on Shabbos. Wikipedia link: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/39_Melakhot
  14. Chabad’s step-by-step guide Link: https://www.chabad.org/theJewishWoman/article_cdo/aid/363323/jewish/Challah-a-Step-by-Step-Guide.htm
  15. Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/Tredoni-Kosher-Flour-Sieve-Strainer/dp/B07RPSY5RF
  16. YouTube link: https://youtu.be/nMws78OgiDk
  17. Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07TPFLDFQ/ref=ox_sc_act_image_1?smid=A24V0R8OYC22DZ&psc=1
  18. By the way, obviously, there are dissenting opinions, like this one: The Hazon Ish (Rabbi Avruham Yeshaye Karelitz) holds that 2,25 kg (5 lbs/79.4 oz.) of flour is necessary to separate challah with a brucheh. (These two opinions constitute the two extremes of the spectrum of points of view.)

    For guidance ask your/a ruv (or see Chabad’s page). Link: https://www.chabad.org/theJewishWoman/article_cdo/aid/363323/jewish/Challah-a-Step-by-Step-Guide.htm

    Prayer books will have the brucheh as well as additional prayers, supplications, and declarations of intent.

Nino Shaya Weiss
Greetings, I am Nino Shaye Weiss, an unbridled foodnik kibbitzing (aka blogging) from Vienna, a place steeped in history and culture. The city of music and dreams, once loved and hated by Sigmund Freud, has been home to many celebrated Jewish figures, including Theodor Herzl, Gustav Mahler, Viktor Frankl, Martin Buber, Stefan Zweig, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Arnold Schoenberg, and Erich von Stroheim, among others. In my blog, I endeavor to pay tribute to these great figures as well as to the anonymous Jew of pre-Shoah Jewish Vienna by delving into memory's kitchen and celebrating their once-rich and diverse cuisine, now lost forever. From Italian and Hungarian influences to Bohemian and Galician, I explore the eclectic flavors and unique stories of this previously vibrant culinary tradition, often with a Freudian twist. Join me in my virtual kitchen as I offer a culinary armchair therapy for a fictional restaurant, and discover the delicious world of Jewish Viennese food…

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