This is a fun way to celebrate the new year for the trees. You will need a flower cutter or cutters to stamp out the little blossom flowers.
1kg strong white bread or plain flour
360 ml lukewarm water
1 sachet dried yeast (7g)
3 tbsp caster sugar (plus a tsp more to mix in with the yeast)
3 eggs (2 for the dough and 1 for the egg wash)
½ tbsp salt
60ml sunflower oil
Fondant icing or marzipan in blossom colours
- Pour the water into a mixing bowl, add the teaspoon of sugar and dissolve the yeast.
- Leave for a few minutes and once bubbles appear, add a third of the flour, 2 eggs, the remaining sugar, salt and oil.
- Combine the mixture, adding flour little by little, until a ball of dough forms. The dough will be ready to knead when it comes away from the bowl and no longer sticks to your hands. Knead the dough for 5 minutes, cover and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in size.
- Roll the dough into a large, flat, thin rectangle using a rolling pin.
- Cut the dough into long thin strips — a pizza cutter works well for this job — and plait three strands as a time. Arrange the plaited strips on two large sheets of baking paper, one for the tree trunk and one for the branches, making sure you can fit them on your largest baking sheet or oven tray.
- Cover and let the shaped challah rise again for 30 minutes. Pre-heat your oven to 180°C so it is hot at the end of the rising time. Then lightly and carefully brush the tree with beaten egg and bake it for 25 minutes.
- Cool on a wire rack then decorate the challah tree with flowers cut from fondant icing or marzipan.