Date-stuffed challah to break the fast

Date-stuffed+challah+to+break+the+fast

Date-stuffed challah to break the fast

by Margi Lenga Kahn, Special to the Jewish Light

When life gives you dates, make a date-filled challah.  In my case, my mother Ann Lenga not only gave me life but more dates than you can imagine. Those bags of dates accumulated over the years, part of the Sunday night goodie sacks that she brought when she came to our house for dinner. No doubt, they were literally the fruits of her occasional pilgrimages to Aldi’s and the Dollar Store.

And like many things in my pantry, those dates became invisible. Last week, however, while in search of a small box of currants, which, incidentally, I never found, I discovered 11—yes, 11—bags of dates, including whole, whole and pitted, and chopped. They were stacked, side-by-side, on more than one shelf, and a few had fallen onto the pantry floor, lodging between cans of olive oil, boxes of cereals, and bags of assorted grains. Talk about a windfall—or, I sighed, maybe not.

Then I had an epiphany. Dates would make the ideal filling for a Yom Kippur challah. They are sweet and rich in flavor, they are included in the Talmud’s list of foods for the High Holidays, and they embody our wishes for a sweet new year. In short, it doesn’t get any sweeter than that.

What’s more, I realized, if I were to make extra filling with all of those bags of dates, I could use the surplus as a luscious topping for toasted bagels, waffles or pancakes, as the ideal base for goat cheese bruschettas, and as the perfect partner to peanut butter on a sandwich.  Now that’s what I call a windfall.

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Here is my recipe for Date-Filled Challah, which I’ve tested and fine-tuned in my kitchen. Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients or by the lengthy directions, which I included to simplify the process. As with all recipes, be sure to read through it a couple times before starting, and have your ingredients prepped and ready to go.

Even if you are a first-time bread baker, you can make this challah. The recipe is easy to follow and the dough is very forgiving.  And because it rises in the refrigerator overnight, you can make the dough a day or two in advance. Furthermore, the extra challahs, once completely cooled, can be frozen in zip-lock freezer bags for two months.  They would be lovely to serve for a special Shabbat, Sukkot, or Simchat Torah dinner.

I expect this will become a tradition in our home. I hope it will for yours, too.

Best wishes for a healthy, happy, and sweet New Year.

Margi Lenga Kahn is the mother of five and grandmother of four. A cooking instructor at the Kitchen Conservatory, she is currently working on a project to preserve the stories and recipes of heritage cooks. She welcomes your comments and suggestions at [email protected]