Cinnamon + coconut sugar challah //

“Here are two things I found taking the long road, though: Applause is a quick fix. And love is an acquired taste.”

— Donald Miller, Scary Close

Welcome to day 2 of a week long blog of challah recipes! The past couple of days, I have been thinking a lot about how much we do for the sake of validation. The holiday season tends to be a particularly difficult time when it comes to our wants, lacks, and comparisons. With social media only being about a decade old, we have grown so accustomed to a culture of “liking”, “following” and posting so many details of our personal lives. I wonder, though, how many nooks and crannies of our hearts and souls are longing to be known and shared, but get lost in the never-ending sea of Instagram worthy highlight reels.

As a photographer and social media manager for multiple clients, I see so much value in utilizing the beautiful tools that social media has to offer. It gives us the ability to connect and share with humans across the globe we may have never encountered without it. That being said, it’s far too easy to get caught up in a generation of instant gratification. I am learning more and more for myself that I have to be present — above all else. Not only for my own health and self-love, but for me to be any good at loving anyone else.

Through my reading about the symbolism behind traditional challah bread, I found that the flour represents sustenance, not only our for ourselves, but in our relationships with others. My hope with this semi-sweet and completely festive recipe is that you take the time to build truly sustaining relationships in real life, in person. Give this recipe a try. Take it to a friend’s place. Sit on the floor together, light candles, turn on some music and connect with eye contact and breaking bread instead of these rectangular screens. Be okay with pauses for silence (and chewing). It isn’t awkward — we just aren’t used to it anymore. Create time and space for love to fill in the gaps. I also highly recommend serving this challah fresh out of the oven with a cold glass of almond milk.

What you need:

• 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

• 2 tbsp sugar

• 1/2 packet of instant yeast

• 1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tsp cinnamon

• 2 large eggs, 1 divided

• 2 tablespoons canola oil

For the cinnamon glaze:

• 1/2 cup coconut sugar

• 1/4 cup melted vegan butter

• 1 tbsp cinnamon

• 1/8 tsp vanilla extract

What to do:

1. Mix the flour, sugar, yeast, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl.

2. Whisk together 1 egg plus 1 egg yolk (save the egg white for later), canola oil, and ½ cup of lukewarm water in a large bowl.

3. Knead until a smooth and elastic ball forms, about 10 minutes. If dough sticks to the sides, add more flour as needed.

4. Place the dough in a lightly-oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set in a warm place to rest until it doubles in size (2 hours).

5. Separate your dough into 4 equal pieces, and roll each piece into a 1”-diameter rope. Don’t be afraid to stretch and pull! Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Pinch one end of the ropes together, braid the strands firmly, then pinch the other end to seal. Twirl one end around the other, folding the end underneath to make a circular braid. Drape the braided dough with plastic wrap, and let it rise for 1 hour until doubled in size.

6. While the dough is rising, make the cinnamon glaze. Place the coconut sugar, cinnamon, vanilla extract and a pinch of salt in a bowl and stir to combine. Then, pour in the melted vegan butter and stir to form a paste, set aside.

7. Heat oven to 350° F. Brush your dough with cinnamon glaze. Whisk the reserved egg white with one tablespoon of water, and brush all over the loaf. Bake until deep golden brown, 30 minutes.

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