I love the smell of fresh bread baking in the oven.
Who doesn’t? Unfortunately, I rarely have the time to love making bread from scratch – but I found a great workaround.
All of the smell, flavor, and texture of freshly baked bread with a fraction of the effort.
The amount of joy this hack sparks in my life is enormous.
For the first few years, of using the challah hack, I guarded my secret- think I had actual shame about the fact that I wasn’t baking a challah from scratch- I felt like I was ‘cheating’ ritual.
I worried that it might reflect poorly as a homemaker, as a Jewish woman… but as my career demanded more of me (and my Shabbat) then my kids came into the picture- I got over it. Semi-homemade challah is a strategy in working smarter. I spent time reflecting upon what elements of Shabbat ritual and tradition are important to me and why…and I realized that while I may have absorbed the idea that a woman of valor spends her day in the kitchen making Shabbat dinner- that idea is not mine so I can reject it.
In certain families, I know that there are clear expectations upon the woman of the house…and I realized that in my home- I am the designer of those expectations.
As such: I value a person of valor who creatively uses available materials to maximize the joy in any experience.
As such, I’ve evolved past my woman-of-valor-imposter-syndrome and now I’m proud to be able to share with you this simple trick that has deeply enhanced the sweetness of Shabbat around my table.
Buy frozen challah dough from your local bakery. I buy mine at Publix- occasionally I’ve had to ask for the bakery manager because no one knows if they are allowed to sell unbaked bread). I buy in bulk, at least half dozen at a time.
This challah hack is simple and takes much less time than making entirely homemade- but it is not quick.
Plan accordingly- dough needs 2-3 hours to thaw, 35ish minutes to bake, and 45ish minutes to cool.
Eggwash it if you want it to be shiny, then place in a preheated 350F oven for about 35 minutes. Allow it to cool for at least 30 minutes before breaking into it.
Level up your challah game with a stuffed challah
If I was making my dough from scratch, I don’t think I’d have the patience to add this extra twist. Now I use many 1/4 time I got back by switching from traditional challah making to using frozen dough and get to invent new flavors weekly. This is very much a way that I like to play as a grown-up…and exploring different flavors, describing various textures, and evaluating our handiwork is now a part of the tradition at my Shabbes table. #womanofvalor #myownminhag
A few of my favorite stuffed challah flavor combinations include:
Brie + Apples + Honey
Sundried Tomatoes + Roasted Garlic + Parmesan
Any flavor jam (I let my kids use baby syringes to ‘inject’ the semi-proofed challah)
Spinach and Artichoke Stuffed Parmesan ChallahThis delish challah uses pre-prepared dough (I get it by asking the people behind the bakery counter at Publix) so it is an easy way to be elegant! Be like Bag-Bag and turn it, turn it, and turn it again- because this challah hack can work with countless flavor and ingredient combos!
- Take dough out of freezer
- Place on counter to thaw approx 1 hour. Dough will begin to rise.
- Flip assembled dough over, slice a deep pocket to contain ingredients
- Layer spinach, artichokes, cheese, and your favorite herbs.
- Slice or pinch strips of dough from either side of the stuffed pocket, pinch together and fold overlapping layers to seal the 'pocket'.
- Flip challah so that the sealed side is directly on a lightly greased baking sheet. Eggwash and top with cheese as desired.
- Bake at 350F for 30-40 minutes, adding cheese midway for maximum gooeyness.