My cousin shared a picture of an amazing challah with me, a challah for Sukkot shaped like a lulav and etrog. I took one look and knew I had to try to do it. And I honestly can’t believe how beautiful it turned out!
For this much shaping, I used a heavier dough. Too stiff for the standing mixer, so I mixed it in the food processor.
For this post though, I will focus on how to shape the challah, rather than on the particular dough recipe. You can use whatever challah recipe you want for this.
How to Shape a Lulav Challah
1. Make a dough that is enough for two 1 lb. challahs.
2. Use 1/3 dough, cover the rest with plastic wrap to keep it from drying out. Divide the piece into 3 and roll each into a long strand. Braid it into a tight 3 strand braid. This will be the main part of the lulav. Place it on a parchment covered baking sheet.
3. Use half of the remaining dough, divide it into 4 balls, with one ball a bit larger than the others. The large ball will serve as the base of the lulav, so elongate it a little.
4. Shape 2 of the balls into ovoids. They will go on either side of the braid. Prick them with a fork to texturize.
5. Shape the last ball into the etrog – a lemon shape with a small stem on the top.
6. With the remaining dough:
– roll out small strands to create the weaving over the base of the lulav.
– Roll out 2 medium-lengths strands, twist them together and lay them across the top of the base and the bottom of the braid.
– Roll out very thin strands for the branches and tiny balls and ovals for the leaves. These will come out of the tip of the fork-pricked ovoids.
7. Let the dough rise again for another hour or so. Heat oven to 325F
8. Brush with egg wash (beaten egg).
9. Bake for 15 minutes, check how the dough is browning, if it is browning too much, tent the small pieces with foil. Bake for another 15 – 25 minutes, checking after each 10 minutes.
10. Cool on a wire rack.