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Epi Challah with Parmesan Herb Topping


We may get distracted by all the blintzes and cheesecake, but in truth, challah is not a side note on Shavuos! In fact, in the Torah, Shavuos is called Chag HaKatzir and Chag HaBikurim because this was the time of year that we harvested the wheat and brought the korban called Shtei HaLechem, the Two Breads. This symbolizes our awareness that bread is both shaped and developed by us and our creative   efforts, and at the same time provided for us by Hashem in His infinite kindness.   This shape, called an “epi” in French, is shaped to resemble stalks of wheat and commemorates the celebration of the wheat harvest and the Shtei Halechem. It is perfectly suited to a time in which we offer gratitude to Hashem for the wheat that grows and provides us with our sustenance!   As an added bonus, you don’t need any braiding skills, and it’s a real showstopper! I think that counts as a challah hack.   I’m showcasing the epi shape here with an incredible savory topping of chives, rosemary, garlic and Parmesan. It’s like garlic bread but so much better, you can’t even compare the two. The epi shape is kind of like the French version of a pull-apart challah. Each of the little “ears” in the stalk of wheat becomes its own little roll, and everyone can just reach in and pull one off. It’s so much fun, I hope you try it!   Full disclosure: In a classic epi bread, the ears are very pointed and defined. This shape works best with a dry dough, such as a baguette. In this iteration, because the brioche is a very moist dough, the shape is slightly more flattened and rounded, although still quite beautiful!


Prepare the Challah

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Combine oil, Parmesan, garlic, rosemary and chives in a bowl.
3. Use about 12 to 14 ounces of dough per epi and roll into a 16-inch log. Place on cookie sheet lined with Gefen Parchment Paper or tray for baking. Once these are shaped, they shouldn’t be moved!
4. Generously coat the log with the Parmesan-herb topping. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt, very sparingly (a little goes a long way!).
5. Hold a sharp pair of kitchen scissors at a 45-degree angle and cut into the log, beginning at the bottom. Let the “ear” fall to one side (see photos), keeping the ear just attached, without cutting all the way to the bottom.
6. Keep making the same cuts at even intervals, letting each “ear” fall to the opposite side, until you reach the top of the log.
7. Bake immediately for 25 to 30 minutes.


The epi challah is not a filled dough and can be used as the main Hamotzi.


Photography by Chay Berger