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High Holiday Festive Challah

September 16, 2019

by: Rae Harris, BFP Staff Writer

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Challah…Although today the word conjures up images of a mouthwatering braided loaf enjoyed during Shabbat (Sabbath) and special occasions, the bread has a much richer biblical history. The word challah first appears in the Tanakh (OT) in Numbers 15:18–21, where God commands the Israelites to set aside the first portion of their dough as an offering. This offering, given to the priests, was the hafrashat challah, or “separating the challah,” set aside and dedicated to the Lord. Traditional Shabbat dinners include two loaves of challah as a reminder of the double portion of manna the Lord gave Israel in the desert. As you celebrate the biblical feasts this fall, try a twist on your classic challah recipe with our festive variation featuring apples, pecans and fall spices.


2 tbsp yeast

½ cup sugar

1 tbsp salt

6–7 cups flour

1 ¾ cups hot water

4 eggs

½ cup oil


4 diced Granny Smith apples

4 tbsp cinnamon

2 tbsp ground cardamom

2 tbsp coconut oil

1 cup coconut or brown sugar

1 cup chopped pecans

Egg wash:

2 eggs

water to thin

To make dough:

  1. Place yeast, sugar, salt and 2 cups flour in a bowl.
  2. Add water, eggs and oil. Whisk batter until smooth.
  3. Add remaining flour half a cup at a time and mix until smooth and the dough is no longer sticky. Add flour as needed.
  4. Set aside to rise while you make the filling.

To make filling:

  1. Add ingredients to a large bowl and stir to combine.

To assemble:

  1. Divide dough in half and place one half on a flat surface sprinkled with flour.
  2. Roll dough out into a large rectangle ¼ inch (0.6 cm) in depth and spread half of the filling evenly over dough. Leave a 1 inch (2.5 cm) border on all sides uncovered.
  3. Roll dough into a long rope, pressing the loose edge of dough to seal.
  4. Roll dough into a coiled circle, tucking the loose end under the circle.
  5. Repeat with other half of dough and filling.
  6. Place each loaf in a greased round cake pan and set aside to rise for 30–45 minutes.
  7. Brush top of loaves with egg wash and sprinkle with additional chopped pecans if desired.
  8. Bake loaves at 350°F (180°C) for 40–45 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through.

Makes 2 round loaves of challah

Photo Credit: Michio Nagata/bridgesforpeace.com

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