As a kid, I was always told that our Russian ancestors came from the Shtetl that Fiddler on the Roof is based off of. Cut to me in one of my Jewish history classes at the University of Michigan, walking into class excited because the topic for this class was Fiddler on the Roof! Our professor spent the next hour tearing apart the movie.
He told us about every untrue, stereotyped, and hyperbolized aspect of Judaism that is portrayed in that show and ended the class with “Let me tell you all that everyone’s grandparents’ if they have even a smidge of Russian descent claim to be from the shtetl that Anatevka is based off of!”
While I do not have faith that my family is actually from the shtetl that inspired Fiddler on the Roof, I do still have Russian heritage and therefore must include a Borscht inspired challah in my Around the World series!
1 ½ Tablespoon instant yeast
½ Cup sugar
1 large egg, beaten
1 Teaspoon kosher salt
½ Cup butter (melted)
½ Cup dill
1 Cup beets, pureed
1 Cup warm water
6-7 Cups flour
Place beets and dill in a blender and blend until smooth.
Whisk egg, salt, melted butter, water, sugar, beets, dill, and yeast in a large bowl.
Add the flour one cup at a time to yeast mixture. Using a strong spatula to mix at the beginning and using your hands to mix once it gets too difficult with the spatula.
Once the dough is fully mixed, turn onto a floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes. (If you don’t knead the dough well enough, the challah will not hold its shape when it is braided.)
Grease a large bowl with spray oil and transfer the dough to the bowl. Cover with a damp paper towel and put in the oven to proof. (Make sure the oven is off!) Proof until the dough is doubled in size about 45 minutes-1 hour.
Once proofed, turn the dough onto a floured surface and cut into 3 equal portions. Roll each portion into a thick log. Braid as you would for a 3 strand challah. Let the loaves proof for another 30 minutes.
Beat one egg with a splash of water. Using a pastry brush, brush over the challah.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake the loaves for 35 minutes.