Home Food The Shabbat table – Creative twists with leftover challah

The Shabbat table – Creative twists with leftover challah

(Moishe House/CC BY-SA 3.0)

Good Shabbos, Shabbat Shalom! Entrée to Judaism for Families: Jewish Cooking & Kitchen Conversations with Children (URJ) by Tina Wasserman features step-by-step recipes for holidays and every day, providing essential tools for helping kids learn to cook with confidence. Behind every recipe is a story about where the recipes come from and how they were a part of the rich history of Jewish communities around the world.

If you’re searching for interesting ways to use up your leftover Shabbat challah before Passover, Tina Wasserman features some scrumptious twists on classic braided bread that will transform leftovers into luscious delights.

Her Round Algerian Challah is egg-free, making it perfect for those who have egg allergies. Tina’s Basic Easy Challah (https://cookingandmore.com/challah/) makes four loaves, so unless you have a large family, you’ll probably have a lot of leftovers. Use them to make Challah Cheese Souffle, Challah “Babka” Bread Pudding, or Bread Kugel with Dried Fruit and Sun-Dried Tomatoes.

Everyone knows that leftover challah makes the best French toast, but Tina’s version uses vanilla ice cream instead of heavy cream because “children think it’s funny to have ice cream in their breakfast.” For the full recipe, click here: https://cookingandmore.com/challah-french-toast/

In addition to Shabbat specialties such as challah, chicken and kugels, her Passover recipes include Double Coconut Chocolate Macaroons, Passover Granola, and Matzah Brie.

Enjoy these wonderful ways to extend the joy of Shabbat and its special braided bread!



Adapted from Entrée to Judaism for Families: Jewish Cooking & Kitchen Conversations with Children by Tina Wasserman (URJ Press)

Babka, or grandmother’s cake, refers to the babcia (in Slavic languages) or bubbe (in Yiddish), so called because in the early 1800’s this cake was made in a high fluted pan that looked like a grandmother’s skirt.

Babka is a traditional Polish/Ukrainian yeast cake that was originally made from rich challah dough rolled around a sweet cinnamon or fruit filling. Baked with the challah, it was a Friday afternoon treat for children waiting for Shabbat to arrive.

This recipe is a twist on classic babka. Instead of being made with challah dough, it is made from the baked challah! Chocolate and cinnamon flavour the pudding, and the classic streusel topping finishes off this wonderful treat.


One 1-pound challah (raisin or plain), preferably a few days old

8 ounces Israeli chocolate spread or chocolate-hazelnut spread

1 stick unsalted butter or margarine

1/4 cup light brown sugar

4 eggs

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2 cups milk (skim, 2% or whole)

Additional butter for greasing dish



3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature or slightly softened in the microwave

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla


  1. Butter a 2-quart oval or rectangular baking dish. Set aside.
  2. Slice the challah into 3/4-inch slices. Spread the chocolate filling over each slice of bread using small bent spatula or utility knife. Arrange in the casserole to fit evenly.
  3. Microwave the butter in a 2-quart glass bowl until melted. Add the brown sugar, and stir to dissolve.
  4. Add the eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, and milk to the bowl, and whisk to combine well.
  5. Carefully pour the egg/milk mixture over the bread slices. Using a wide metal spatula, gently press down on the bread slices to submerge them under the custard. Place a plate or a bowl on top of the casserole to weight the challah down. Set aside on the counter for 30 minutes while you make the topping.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
  7. Place the topping ingredients in a 1-quart mixing bowl, and squeeze the mixture together using your hands at first and then fingertips, to evenly combine all ingredients and make a crumble.
  8. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the bread/custard in the baking dish.
  9. Bake for 35–45 minutes or until puffed and golden. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Yield: 8–12 servings

Tina’s Tidbits:

  • The best knife for slicing bread is a serrated knife. However, if cut with a serrated knife the wound usually forms scar tissue. Therefore, with exception of older children (7+) I would recommend pre-slicing the challah before you begin to make the recipe.



Adapted from Entrée to Judaism for Families: Jewish Cooking & Kitchen Conversations with Children by Tina Wasserman (URJ Press)

When the Jews left Egypt and wandered through the desert, God sent manna from the heavens to feed them. On Friday they received a double portion because they could not work on the Sabbath. That is why we have the tradition of two loaves of challah on our Shabbat tables. Dew fell from heaven to protect the manna, and that is why many Jews today either cover their challahs with a special cloth or sprinkle sesame seeds on top to symbolize the dew.

Unless you have a large family or your two challahs are very small, you will have a lot of challah left over! This recipe is a good way to use these leftovers. Not only does the recipe provide delicious ways to engage a child in the kitchen, it offers opportunities to discuss the meaning of Shabbat and its customs.

A modern version of a soufflé, this recipe will not fail or collapse, since bread binds the ingredients together. This dish is perfect for younger children with short attention spans because the dish needs to be assembled several hours ahead of time or even the night before. This gives the challah time to absorb the liquids, and the dish will puff up when baked.


1–1 1/2 medium challahs (approximately 12 cups of challah cubes)

1 stick unsalted butter

6 eggs

2 cups milk (whole, 1% or 2%)

1 teaspoon salt

10 grindings of freshly ground black pepper

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

12–16 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese or Jarlsberg cheese (about 3 1/2 cups grated)

Additional butter or cooking spray for greasing the pan


  1. Cut challah into 1/2-inch slices, and then cut the slices into 1/2-inch cubes; or pull the bread apart into small pieces if that is easier. The crust does not need to be removed if it isn’t hard. Set aside.
  2. In a 1-quart glass bowl covered with a sheet of paper towel, melt the butter in the microwave according to the manufacturer’s setting. Set aside.
  3. Using a medium whisk, whisk the eggs and the milk together with the salt, pepper, and nutmeg in a 2-quart mixing bowl. Add the melted butter and whisk to combine. Set aside.
  4. If not using packaged shredded cheese, grate the cheese on a coarse grater.
  5. Grease a 2-quart casserole or soufflé dish with butter or nonstick cooking spray.
  6. Arrange 1/3 of the bread cubes in the bottom of the pan, then layer 1/3 of the cheese on top. Make 2 more layers of bread and cheese, then pour the egg/milk mixture over all. Lightly spread down to make sure all the bread layers are covered in liquid ingredients.
  7. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  8. When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 350ºF. Bake the dish in the centre of the oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the top is golden brown and a thin pointy knife inserted in the centre comes out wet but clear.

Yield: 6 servings

Kitchen Conversations:

  • Discuss why challah is so special for Shabbat. What is your favourite challah? Does it have raisins? Plain? Flavoured? Whole wheat?
  • Did Jews always eat fancy braided bread?

Tina’s Tidbits:

  • Older children will enjoy the reinforcement of their math and geometry lessons with this recipe, and younger children can easily make this dish if you let them break the challah into little pieces with their hands and you buy the packaged shredded cheese.
  • Butter often splatters when melting because it naturally contains some water. To avoid having it explode all over your microwave oven, cover the dish lightly with a piece of paper towels when melting.
  • It goes without saying that children under the age of ten or those not tall enough to reach into an oven should not be removing any hot baking dish from an oven.
  • If a child is doing the testing to see if the soufflé is fully baked (step 8), the test should be done out of the oven with the soufflé dish placed on the counter. If the soufflé is not ready and is taken out of the oven too long, it become dense when fully baked, so young children should not be doing the testing.




Adapted from Entrée to Judaism for Families: Jewish Cooking & Kitchen Conversations with Children by Tina Wasserman (URJ Press)

The first bread kugels made eight hundred years ago probably didn’t have more than a few raisins in them. They definitely didn’t have sun-dried tomatoes, since tomatoes were first brought to Europe from the Americas in the sixteenth century! This recipe combines many of the flavours and food found in Spain and Portugal (the home of Sephardic Jews) with the classic technique for making a bread kugel!


3 tablespoons olive oil, plus additional for greasing the pan

1 onion, diced

2 ribs celery, chopped

1 cup chopped mushrooms

1/2 cup chopped mixed dried fruit (apples, prunes, pears, apricots, or any of your other favourites)

1/2 cup dried sweetened cranberries

1 cup apricot nectar

1/4 cup Madeira (optional; add more apricot nectar if not using)

1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and chopped

1/2 cup toasted almonds, coarsely chopped

1 loaf of white bread or challah with crust, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 7 cups)

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon crush rosemary

1/2 teaspoon sage

1/2 teaspoon marjoram

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Kosher salt and 10 grindings of pepper to salt

1 1/2 cups chicken broth, warm or at room temperature

1 egg


  1. Sauté the onion on the olive oil until lightly golden. Add the celery and mushrooms, and sauté for about 10 minutes or until the vegetables are soft and have given up their juices. Set aside.
  2. Grease a 2-quart casserole or 11 1/2 x 8-inch pan with some additional olive oil.
  3. Combine the chopped fruit, dried cranberries, apricot nectar, and Madeira in a small glass bowl, and microwave on high for 2 minutes. Set aside.
  4. Combine the sun-dried tomatoes, almonds, and bread cubes in a 4-quart bowl.
  5. Mix the seasonings with the chicken broth and egg. Set aside.
  6. Add the onion mixture and the dried fruit/juice mixture to the bowl with the bread cubes and toss.
  7. Add the broth and egg mixture, and stir until the mixture is moist and almost runny. If necessary, add a little more broth or nectar.
  8. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole, and bake at 350ºF for 30–40 minutes.

Yield: 12 or more servings

Note: The casserole can be baked for the first 25 minutes with foil, shiny side up. Then remove the foil for the remainder of the cooking time. This will give you a very soft stuffing.


Kitchen Conversations:

  • Do you think the Jews of Eastern Europe would use apricots and other dried fruits or apples, pears, and raisins? Why?
  • Using popular, modern ingredients such as Madeira and sun-dried tomatoes along with dried cranberries in this classic form of kugel shows how recipes change over time with access to new and/or different available ingredients. Are there any family recipes that your relatives have changed because they couldn’t find a certain ingredient or because they liked on food more than another?
  • How would you change this recipe to include ingredients you like that are available where you live?

Tina’s Tidbits:

  • Don’t be put off by the number of ingredients. Each step can be worked on independently over the course of the day, covered, and then combined before baking.
  • Cream sherry or additional apricot nectar can be substituted for the Madeira if you prefer.
  • Eliminating the sun-dried tomatoes reduces saltiness, so adjust the seasonings accordingly if you don’t include them.
  • You may substitute 2 teaspoons of poultry seasoning mix for the individual herbs if you prefer.