"Every day is a challah-day," goes the motto of recently launched baking endeavor Challahday-az.
A pair of hobby-now-professional bakers helms the operation, which runs in the kitchen of Temple Chai in north Phoenix. Sharon Salomon and Benita Sonabend have decades of experience baking challah. Strangely, before meeting they both had separately baked from the same recipe.
That recipe comes from Norene Gilletz, whom Salomon describes as "the most prolific kosher cookbook writer in Canada." The two laugh about the coincidence. "There's a million recipes for challah," Sonabend says. "We have perfected the one we use."
Like just about any food, all challah are not created equal.
Salomon decries the state of store-bought challah, waxing on the virtues of "burnished" homemade challah with some bite on the crust and softness within. "Our challah will never be a yellow rubber band challah that comes out of a plastic bag," she says.
She's right. For one, their challah is filled.
Salomon and Sonabend spread flavorings onto rolled-out dough before forming challah. Last week, the duo made challah filled with strawberry jelly, a remix of the Jewish sufganiyot (a kind of jelly doughnut). They did challah with potato purée as a nod to the latke. They even did a Nutella challah. As the seasons change and Jewish and non-Jewish holidays come and go, Challahday-az will offer matching versions of challah. For Christmas, the two will offer three new kinds of challah: chocolate-mint, dry fruit and marzipan, and orange-cranberry.
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A base of standard challahs will be available for order year-round. These will include plain, everything, and chocolate chip versions.
Challahday-az started in September. Salomon, whose culinary resume includes an education in France and being an investor in Barrio Cafe and Barrio Cafe Gran Reserva, says she took her challah to a few high-profile bakers to get feedback before deciding to go into business. While Salomon takes more of a lax, freewheeling approach to things, Sonabend brings more of a right-brain mind and structural rigor to the operation.
Each challah loaf costs $7.50. You place orders ahead of time and score the goods at one of Challahday-az's various pickup locations. For more on flavors, ordering, and pickup spots, head to Challahday-az's website.