Peter Fritz: Challah Man

By Arnie Warshawsky

On Sunday, June 2, 2019, I learned a tiny bit about the challenges and satisfaction of baking challah. With seven other hardy souls, I attended the second showing of “Peter Fritz: Challah Man.” We were graciously hosted by Temple Emanu-El, which had a kitchen sufficiently large to handle the nine of us. The class began at 9:00 am, but to get ready for the class, Peter, like most bakers, got up hours before dawn to prepare. The focus of this class was learning several classic challah braids. During his pre-class preparation, Peter made the dough (half simply bread dough, the other half with raisins), and divided it into a myriad of Ziplock bags – each bag holding the right amount of dough for one braid. He provided a two-part hand out. One part was recipes for challah dough, the other was a simple tutorial on some of the braiding techniques. Nothing can quite compare with the hands-on experience of actually braiding challah.

While eight student-braided challoth were rising, Peter introduced us to the art of making the dough. It’s one of those things that seems easy when you watch someone accomplished showing you how. Also, like an auto mechanic, having the right tools makes things go so much easier. Peter doesn’t like to leave things to happenstance. He is a strong advocate of weighing out all of the ingredients using a kitchen scale. Peter believes this contributes to consistency. Similarly, he strongly recommends not relying on oven temperature and recipe baking times. Instead, he stresses the importance of using a probe to measure the internal temperature of each challah to fine tune the baking time. I was surprised to see 5-10 degree differences in internal temperature for two challahs baking next to each other on the same baking pan.

Each of the eight of us got to take home one of the challahs we baked, plus pre-weighed out portions of the dough we made while the challah were baking. That was our homework. Take the dough home, braid and bake your own challah. I did, to my wife’s amazement. Unfortunately, because I didn’t have a thermometer probe, I had to rely on the oven temperature and baking time method. As it turned out, my challoth came out pretty good. It was good enough that I plan to try the entire process soon. Amazon delivered my kitchen scale and thermometer today. A new hobby is dawning. See below for links to challah recipes.

Link to document with challah recipes:

https://1drv.ms/w/s!AndQarCZS2BigkQBj80tvd7l8cLp?e=ZBQCMe

Link to document for how to braid challah:

https://1drv.ms/b/s!AndQarCZS2Big1Yfv-KEJv01PuRW?e=fMhire

Link to document for baking equipment:

https://1drv.ms/w/s!AndQarCZS2Big1UXuuX6aO7B_2fe?e=0GXucI

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