Challah French Toast

Note: Here is some background on challah, Jewish braided bread, which is round on the Jewish New Year

Challah Shapes and Symbols


Challah is often braided using anywhere between two to six strands of dough. According to author Gil Marks, until the 15th century most Ashkenazim used their weekday rectangular loaves or round loaves for Shabbat. Eventually, however, German Jews began making a “new form of Sabbath bread, an oval, braided loaf modeled on a popular Teutonic bread” (“The World of Jewish Cooking,” 276). Over time this shape became the most commonly used in Ashkenazi culture, though many Middle Eastern and Sephardic communities today still use either a round flat bread or plain rectangular loaves for their challot.

Less common challah shapes include spirals, keys, books and flowers. On Rosh HaShanah, for instance, challah is baked into spiral rounds (symbolizing the continuity of creation), braided rounds (symbolizing the ascent to heaven) or crowns (symbolizing God as the King of the Universe). Bird shapes are derived from Isaiah 31:5, which states: “As hovering birds, so will the Lord of hosts shield Jerusalem.” When eaten during the meal before Yom Kippur, a bird shape can also represent the idea that one’s prayers will soar to heaven. (Marks, Gil. “The World of Jewish Cooking,” 278).

Seeds (poppy, sesame, coriander) are sometimes sprinkled on challot just before baking. Some say the seeds symbolize the manna that fell from heaven while the Israelites wandered in the desert following their Exodus from Egypt. Sweeteners like honey can also be added to loaves, likewise representing the sweetness of manna.

Challah French Toast

(Note: Either shape can be used for French toast)


Utensils: Measuring cup, pan for soaking, fry pan or baking pan
Prep. Time: 5 minutes, then overnite soaking
Cooking Time: If using a fry pan, about 3 min per side; if using the oven, bake until golden
Categories: Not vegan or gluten-free


3-4 slices (thick) of day-old challah, with or without raisins* (Cooks better when not too soft)
one-two eggs
1/4-1/2 cup non-dairy milk or regular milk
dash of vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
butter or oil
maple syrup or (raw) honey (Honey is traditional for the Jewish New Year)


1. Cut 3 or 4 slices thickly (one egg for 3 slices, 2 for four)
2. In a measuring cup, break the egg(s) & add the (non) milk (if using 2 eggs, 1/4 cup is enough)
3. Add vanilla & cinnamon and stir well.
4. Place challah in a baking pan; pour the egg mixture over it. Cover & allow to soak overnight, turning the bread once  before bedtime.
5. To fry, add a large pat of butter or walnut/macadamia nut or other mild oil. When the butter has melted or oil slightly hot, add bread and allow to fry on each side until brown.
To bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees, place on an oiled baking sheet and bake until golden turning once.
6. Serve with maple syrup or honey (Or jam)

This is a special treat. I rarely make this, but the New Year is a time for eating something sweet for a sweet New Year, so this is perfect, especially the raisin challah!

2 thoughts on “Challah French Toast

  1. ellen sue:

    We both love french toast made with challah, and never were aware of so much detail in the origin of challah.

    Thanks so much.

    Best wishes,

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