Challah, soft and rich, brushed with egg wash, and woven into complex shapes or beautiful braids, is served in households around the world with Shabbat dinner. In many parts of the U.S. and Europe, challah appears more similar than different — golden, shiny, braided and perhaps dusted with poppy or sesame seeds. Sephardic loaves, on the other hand, take on different flavors, shapes and textures. How did Shabbat’s symbolic bread become the beloved rich and eggy braided loaf that’s baked and enjoyed by millions, worldwide?
One of the first Jewish foods I remember eating is challah. I associate challah with mingling at bar and bat mitzvahs, a glass of grape juice in hand and a chunk of bread in the other, calculating how many times I could reasonably duck into the temple bathroom without looking suspicious.
Keith Cohen, owner of the 100-year-old Orwasher’s Bakery on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, created this fruit and nut studded ‘Holiday Challah’ as a sweet and light-hearted way to celebrate the holiday season. This bread has a beautiful interior that is sprinkled with color from the dried fruit and pistachios. The Holiday Challah is great as toast with tea or coffee—or even better–slice it thinly and bake the slices on a sheet pan until crisp, making a biscotti-like treat.
When it comes to the day after Thanksgiving, you’ll probably have plenty of cranberry sauce left over after the big meal. If you’re like us, you’re already dreaming up ways to integrate those cranberries — whether home-made into a sauce or straight from the can — into a festive Shabbat dessert or side dish!
The smell of ooey gooey cinnamon rolls is likely one of the most intoxicating smells on earth. Butter, cinnamon, sugar and dough make a sinful combination of flavors and smells.
Summer Sundays are for yogurt parfait and long walks in the sun. But once the leaves start falling and the cozy sweaters are unpacked, it’s time to hunker down with pumpkin bread, pancakes and French toast on lazy, snuggly Sundays. After all, evolution says you need those extra calories for survival.
No, this isn’t a Christmas cookie. The flavors are straight out of the Germanic regions, like Alsace-Lorraine, Germany, and Austria, where Jews lived for many, many centuries, and where many were a vital part of spice business. This bread bursts with ginger from gingersnap cookies and fresh ginger. It’s distinctly sweet, mildly hot, richly spiced, and it’s all supported with the warm undertones of apples. Enrobed in the enriched challah dough, this really is a treat. It makes a wonderfully fragrant, complex loaf that is great for any autumn or winter celebration.
Image by Breads Bakery
There’s nothing quite like that first slice of Rosh Hashanah challah, drizzled generously with honey, to put a smile on your face. But what if that slice of challah was drenched in pomegranate glaze? Or stuffed with brown sugar and cinnamon? Or topped with buttery crumb topping?