Yield: Makes one large challah wreath or 12 small rosettes
This creation combines so many of the beautiful elements of Shavuos for that WOW factor. I really can’t think of a better way to say Shavuos with a challah.
The floral shape represents the flowers that are an essential part of this Yom Tov for so many, Ashkenazi and Sefardi alike. Many have the minhag to decorate their shul (and home) with sweet-smelling grasses and flowers, especially roses! In fact, in many Sefardic traditions, Shavuos is even called the Holiday of Roses.
“The Jewish people are like the lily of a rose and the world is like an orchard. The king wanted to destroy the orchard, but he saw the rose and for its sake he saved the orchard. So too, the Jewish people who received the Torah are compared to a rose and save the orchard, i.e., the world.” —Leviticus Rabbah 23:3.
The Bnei Yissachar writes that this is why we decorate with roses on Shavuos!
Then of course there’s the pink milky topping flavored with rose! The particular combination of milk and rose flavoring is very popular in Turkey and is often made into a pudding called malabi. This beautiful pink challah topping brings together the flavors of milk and roses and is the perfect Shavuos flavoring!
I’ve taken it a step further (obviously, if you know me at all by now) and shaped this as a wreath that allows for a bouquet of flowers to be placed in the center. This makes the most gorgeous centerpiece for your Yom Tov table, or if you’re eating out, the best hostess gift I can think of. It’s a lot easier to make than it looks, and no special talents are needed to make it beautiful.
A note about the cardamom: If you’re more of an Ashkenazi-influenced cook, and garlic, onion and paprika are your go-to seasonings, fair warning: cardamom is a highly intense and exotic flavor, and very different from what your palate may be used to. If your family is not adventurous with flavors, just leave the cardamom out. The pistachio filling is incredible even without it, and the rose flavoring on top is subtle enough that most people enjoy it, even though it is unusual!
Prepare the Pistachio Cardamom Filling
1. Reserve 10 to 12 pistachios for topping the challah. Place remaining pistachios, sugar, butter and one tablespoon milk in food processor or blender.
2. Blend or process only until it comes together, leaving a bit of a chunky consistency; don’t over blend.
3. Stir in more milk, one tablespoon at a time, only as needed to form a spreadable consistency.
4. If not using immediately, store in an airtight container in the fridge. When ready to use, add in a little milk gradually to bring it back to a spreadable consistency.
This can be made up to a week in advance and refrigerated. Use very fresh milk if you’re planning to make it in advance.
Prepare the Milky Rose Topping
1. Mix confectioners’ sugar, rosewater, and malabi syrup in a large bowl.
2. Gradually add milk, one tablespoon at a time, stirring very hard (with a solid spoon) until you reach a just-pourable consistency. You want it to be just liquidy enough to be poured, but still as thick as possible.
This is best made right before using, but you can store it in an airtight container in the fridge. If storing for a while, you may need to add a bit of milk to re-liquify before using it.
Shape the Wreath
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Use a large round pizza pan or a large cookie sheet.
3. Divide 32 ounces of dough into 6 equal pieces. Each of those pieces will make two rosettes, totaling 12 rosettes in all.
4. See illustration for shaping instructions.
5. Glaze with egg. Bake immediately for about 25 minutes.
6. After challah is completely cooled, drizzle with milky rose topping. Crush reserved pistachios and sprinkle over challah with some edible rosebuds if desired for a gorgeous finishing touch!
You can buy kosher edible rosebuds on Amazon.com. Malabi syrup and rosewater are available in kosher supermarkets or on Amazon.com.
Photography by Chay Berger