This sweet Moroccan challah, known as Ojos de Haman (eyes of Haman), negola, ungola or boyjo de Haman, is a Purim bread that’s wrapped around a hard-boiled egg. There are many Purim foods and desserts that reference Haman’s ears, eyes and generally acknowledge Haman’s evil role in the Purim story. In this dish, the egg symbolizes Haman’s eyes, and ripping the egg off the bread is like ripping off the eyes of the evil villain. Sometimes it is seen as remedy against the evil eye (tfu tfu tfu).
The baked challah can be kept in a paper bag or cloth at room temperature for up to two days.
A note on yeast:
- I highly recommend using SAF instant yeast, which is available online and some supermarkets, and can be stored in the fridge for months.
- If you’re using active dry yeast, start the recipe by proofing the yeast and continue as usual. When using instant yeast, you should skip the process of proofing the yeast.
For the dough:
- 1 lb all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1 Tbsp yeast
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- ⅔ cup warm water or milk
- 4 Tbsp oil or softened butter
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp fennel seeds
For the topping:
- 6 hard-boiled eggs, shells on (or one per guest)
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 Tbsp water
- 2 Tbsp demerara sugar or light brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp sliced almonds
- If you’re using dry active yeast, skip to direction 2. If you’re using instant yeast, make the dough using a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment. Put flour and yeast in the mixer’s bowl and mix with a fork. Add sugar, then turn mixer on medium-low speed and mix for a minute. Add eggs and milk and continue to mix for about 2 minutes, until well incorporated. Stop the mixer as needed to scrape the flour from the sides using a spatula, then continue to mix. With mixer on medium-low, add the butter a tablespoon at a time, then salt. Knead for 8 minutes. Stop the mixer to scrape the sides as needed. Skip to direction 4.
- To make the dough, use a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment. Put flour in the bowl and make a well in the center. To the well, add yeast mixture, the rest of the sugar and eggs, and mix for about 3 minutes on medium-low speed, until well incorporated. Stop the mixer as needed to scrape the flour from the sides using a spatula, then continue to mix. Add the butter a tablespoon at a time, then add lemon zest and salt. Turn speed to medium-low and mix for 8 minutes. Stop the mixer to scrape the sides as needed. The dough is very soft, but don’t be tempted to add more flour into in.
- Remove bowl from stand mixer. Using a spatula, transfer dough into a lightly greased large bowl (I use Pam spray), cover in plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature, preferably in a warm space (near the oven, for example) until dough almost doubles its size, about 1½ hours.
- Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Mix fennel seeds into the dough and knead to spread them out evenly.
- Lightly flour the working surface. To make two breads, divide the dough into two and take a small piece of dough out of each half, to make the strips that go around the eggs. Roll the first half into a large ball and flatten in a little. Make small wells at the top according to the number of eggs you want to use, then press the hard-boiled eggs into the dough, so only about half of each egg is showing (the eggs should have the shell on!).
- Use the reserved small piece of dough to make a couple of thin strips, and use them to secure the eggs to the bread in a cross shape. Use a knife to make small 1-inch slits around the edge of the bread. Transfer to a baking sheet, cover with kitchen towel, and repeat with the second half of the dough.
- If you’re making individual small rolls, divide the dough into the number of rolls you’re making and repeat the same instructions as above.
- Let breads stand for 45 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Mix egg yolk with water and brush all over the breads. Sprinkle with sugar and almonds.
- Bake breads for 30 minutes and rolls for 20-25 minutes, until fully baked and golden. Transfer to a cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.