Date Filled New Year’s Challah (Parve) Recipe

Date-stuffed challah

By Margi Lenga Kahn

Note #1: With regard to my use of coconut oil: I happen to love the flavor this oil imparts in almost everything, particularly in baked goods and specifically in this bread, where it pairs nicely with the dates. An added bonus: coconut oil is a heart-healthy fat and beneficial to the health of your thyroid. That said, any oil can be substituted, even unsalted butter.

Note #2: Regarding my choice of whole-wheat flour: Adding whole grains to my breads makes me feel better about eating multiple slices! However, you could easily omit the whole-wheat flour and instead use only white flour.



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2 cups water, approximately 110 degrees

1 tsp. granulated sugar

2 packages active dry yeast (4 1/2 tsp.)

6 tbsp. coconut oil or unsalted margarine, melted and cooled, plus more for oiling bowl or bags

3 eggs, lightly beaten

1/3 cup honey

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 tsp. salt

Approximately 5 1/2-6 cups all-purpose flour

1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tsp. water, for egg wash


Note: The apricots are delicious in combination with the dates. However, you can easily substitute the same amount of dates for the apricots, making this a pure date paste. The paste should be easily spreadable. If it’s too thick add more water, a tablespoon at a time, to lighten it up.

2 cups pitted dates, chopped (10 oz)

1 cup dried apricots, coarsely chopped (6 ounces)

2/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

4-5 tbsp. water

Grated zest of 1 large orange

2 tsp. brown sugar

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Pinch freshly ground black pepper



Stir water, sugar, and yeast together in a large mixing bowl (if mixing by hand) or the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Let mixture rest 5-10 minutes until it foams.  Add oil or margarine, eggs, honey, all of the whole-wheat flour, salt, and 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour; mix until combined.

Add an additional 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour and mix. (If using an electric mixer, switch to the dough hook at this point.) Continue mixing dough, adding more flour just a handful at a time. If mixing by hand, gradually add enough flour for dough to become a mass that pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

If mixing by hand, sprinkle countertop with flour, turn dough out onto counter, and knead, sprinkling dough with additional flour as needed to keep it from sticking.

If mixing by machine, continue adding handfuls of flour until dough begins clearing the sides of the bowl. Let machine knead dough for an additional 5 minutes.

In both cases, dough will be smooth and slightly sticky when completed.

Divide dough into thirds and place each piece into a large, oiled zip-lock bag. Or let the entire dough rise in a very large oiled and tightly covered bowl.  In either case, turn dough so that all sides are coated with oil. Set dough in refrigerator to rise overnight.


Stir all ingredients together in a small pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 45 seconds. Let cool for 5 minutes, then puree with an immersion blender or in a blender.  Transfer mixture to a small bowl, cover, and let remain at room temperature until needed.

When ready to form challahs, oil 2 baking sheets or line them with parchment paper. Remove dough from refrigerator. (Cut dough that rose in a bowl into 3 pieces.) Lightly flour counter and proceed by forming challahs as desired. *(See options below.)

Lift challahs onto prepared baking sheets, cover lightly with plastic wrap, and let rise at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Have egg wash ready.

Remove plastic wrap and liberally brush each challah with egg wash. Set pans in preheated oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until challahs are a rich golden color.  Immediately transfer challahs from pans onto cooling racks. Let challahs cool completely before cutting, or freezing for later use.

Makes 3 large challahs.

• Option 1:  Classic Braided Challah  

Roll each piece of dough into a rectangle, 12×14 inches. Cut rectangle into three strips, rather than four.  Fill each strip with 2 tbsp. date mixture, pinch seams and ends shut, and roll the strips back and forth on a floured counter until they are each about 24-inches long. Braid as you would someone’s hair. Seal both ends of the braid by pinching the ends of the dough together and tucking them underneath.  If you would like your challah to be round, simply roll the formed braid around itself like a snail. Tuck end of braid underneath round and pinch to secure.

•  Option 2: Round Woven Challah

Place 1 piece of dough onto floured counter and roll it into a rectangle 12×14 inches, short side facing you.  Using a dull knife or dough scraper, cut dough widthwise into 4, 3-inch strips. Spread 1 1/2-2 tablespoons of cooled date filling down the center of each strip, leaving a 1/2-inch border on each side of strip free from filling. Lift one side of each strip onto the other side, pinch the seams and ends shut, and roll them back and forth on a floured counter until they are each about 24-inches long.

Lay 2 ropes, side by side, onto your counter about 1- inch apart. Place a third, perpendicular rope on top of the two just to the left of the center. Weave it under one rope and over the other. Repeat with fourth rope, setting it 1-inch to the right of the other vertical rope, weaving it opposite from the last, over then under. You now have a classic basket-weave pattern.

Begin by lifting the vertical rope closest to you on your right over the vertical rope to your left. Continue around in a circle in this same manner, lifting each of the remaining “underneath” ropes and placing it over the rope immediately to its right. When you have completed the circle, do the same thing in the opposite direction, beginning with the vertical rope closest to you on your left. Change direction and repeat as before until 2-inches of each rope remain on the counter. Tuck these ends under the bread and pinch shut. Use both hands to cradle round braid and carefully lift it onto prepared baking sheets. Repeat process with remaining pieces of dough.