My husband and I got treated to a delicious Chinese-themed Purim seuda yesterday, courtesy of our friends A & G.
I know, I know. It looks like the gingerbread man is wearing a challah turban, and that’s not particularly Chinese.
But everything else was Chinese. There were authentic chop sticks with these cute little wooden stands. There were mahjong tiles decorating the table and pictures of Chairman Mao on the walls. And there was every Chinese dish you could imagine.
The theme was a surprise until we arrived, which was a good thing, considering that our contribution was the challah. Without having to make it fit a theme, I was free to try out these challah napkin rings.
And it turns out that they’re easy to make. I love when a potchke turns out to be an un-potchke.
Challah napkin rings are great for a special occasion like Purim, Yom Tov, or sheva brachot, but they’re simple enough to put together for any regular Shabbos, too.
If we hadn’t gotten challah in mishloach manot, we’d be having napkin rings tonight.
You will need:
- 1 batch of your favorite challah dough
- toilet paper rolls/paper towel rolls
- aluminum foil
- oil, to grease foil-covered rolls
- parchment paper
- baking sheets
1. Once your dough has risen and is ready to braid, preheat the oven to 350 F/ 180 C. Divide into pieces and form into ropes. You will need two ropes for each napkin ring.
Note: My dough used 1 kilo (about 7 cups) of flour, half white and half whole wheat, and it yielded 8 napkin rings about the size of a standard challah roll.
2. Pinch the tops of two dough ropes together and then form them into a twist. (If your ropes are thin enough, you can try a three-strand braid. I tried this both ways and found that the simple twist worked best.)
3. Cover your paper rolls in aluminum foil and grease lightly by rubbing a bit of oil over the entire surface.
4. Wrap each dough twist around the paper roll, pinching the ends together well where they meet (this will be the bottom of your napkin ring). The twist should fit pretty snugly around the roll, so pull off any extra dough that makes it too long.
5. Brush with a beaten egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds, poppy seeds, etc., just as you would with a regular challah. Make sure to also brush the sides of the napkin rings, not just the top.
6. Bake, pinched ends down, for about 30 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool until safe to touch, then gently remove the napkin rings from the paper rolls. If you greased the rolls, this should be very easy. Serve hot, warm, or room temp.