How to Bake your Challah Full of Blessings
Photo: Liz Rueven

How to Bake your Challah Full of Blessings

There’s a challah revolution going on as bakers of all levels knead seasonal ingredients into their Shabbat and festive loaves. Sure, we celebrate the simplicity of traditional challah on Friday nights, but we’re excited by creative versions that fuse symbolic ingredients into holiday loaves like this one for Sukkot.

Rachel Berger, The Kosher Dinner Lady, shared her recipe for this leek, date and pomegranate filling wrapped in traditional challah dough (scroll down for recipe) at a women’s challah bake at Chabad of Westport (CT) just before Rosh HaShanah. An enthusiastic crowd of more than 100 women gathered,  kneading and shaping our dough for individual challot to bake at home.

Once we put aside our round loaves to rest, we gathered ’round our expert baker’s golden domes to taste what had been teasing us all eve with wafts of fragrant, warm bread.

Berger’s aromatic and tangy recipe, laced with savory ingredients associated with positive energy, simply wow’ed the crowd.

A quick saute of chopped leeks (associated with physical safety), tossed with dates (symbol of beauty and strength) and pomegranates molasses (the arils are associated with fertility and love of holy commandments) came together in a savory, jammy spread that infused each bite.

holiday challah kosher like me
Photo: Liz Rueven

Did you know that stuffed foods are associated with the harvest festival of Sukkot*? As one of the three Biblically based pilgrimage holidays, Sukkot is an agricultural festival celebrating abundance.

For that reason, stuffed foods like this challah, kreplach(soup dumplings), stuffed pumpkins and twice baked Sephardic ring cookies are all appropriate symbols of a healthy, ample harvest.

If you’re interested in a deeper dive into challah baking, take a look at my three favorite baking books on the subject. I covered them all in previous posts (with recipes) so search under COOKBOOKS, for more inspiration.

Modern Jewish Baker: Challah, Babka, Bagels and More by Shannon Sarna

Spiritual Kneading Through the Jewish Months; Building the Sacred Through Challah by Dahlia Abraham-Klein

The Holiday Kosher Baker: Traditional and Contemporary Holiday Desserts by Paula Shoyer

*This year, the holiday of Sukkot begins on the eve of 10/13/19 and ends on the eve of 10/20/19. We hope you’ll pull out those cozy sweaters, enjoy warming and abundant meals, and celebrate well with family and friends.

Happy Holiday to all.


NOTE: The recipe below includes Rachel Berger‘s basic challah dough and her recipe for Leek, Date and Pomegranate Filling. For instructions and numbered diagrams (!!) showing how to stuff challah strands and weave round challah, head to Tori Avey‘s post here. Tori has a way of illustrating and explaining that simply can’t be beat.

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