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Sep 01, 2014
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Intelligent Content For The Food Fascinated
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SERVING SAINT LOUIS SINCE 1999
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One Helluva Challah

May 10th 12:05pm, 2013

The sudden closing of the venerable Pratzel’s Bakery last fall left many St. Louisans in disbelief. No more chocolate-covered upside-down cupcakes (aka “UFOs”), no more tzitzel rye bread and no more challah.

That last one is a real point of tsuris (pain) for area Jews, many of whom customarily slice into the braided loaves on Friday nights to welcome the Sabbath.

So we’re here to let you in on a little secret. We’ve found one of the best (non-kosher) challahs in town. And – surprise! – it’s at a bakery you’ve never heard of.

Every week, congregants of Central Reform Congregation reap the benefits of what appears to be a simple weekly challah sale in the synagogue’s front office. While it’s not out of the norm for a synagogue to bake its own challah, it is unusual for their ovens to turn out a loaf with such out-of-this-world flavor. The challah’s toasty brown, egg-brushed exterior yields to a yellow center that is simultaneously soft, dense, sweet and chewy. Each week, the four-dozen or so challahs get shaped into beautiful braided forms and either left plain or showered with poppy or sesame seeds.

These exemplary loaves are baked by a crew of volunteers that includes Michael DiPlacido, an amateur baker who really kicks it up a notch for holidays and special events. Want your challah in the shape of a dreidel for Hanukkah? No problem. Care to have a challah that looks like a honey pot filled with apples to toast to a “sweet new year” this Rosh Hashanah? Go for it. DiPlacido will even adorn your loaf with the Hebrew name of the young lads crossing over into adulthood (aka Bar/Bat Mitzvahs) that week. These are seriously elaborate works of art that would be the envy of any boutique bakery.

The great news is that you don’t have to be a member of CRC to taste this challah perfection; anyone can pick up the braided loaves. But because the volunteers’ baking schedule is erratic – they bake on Tuesdays, Thursdays and sometimes Sundays – it’s best to call ahead to make sure the challahs are available.

Central Reform Congregation, 5020 Waterman Blvd., St. Louis, 314.361.3919, centralreform.org

By Byron Kerman

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One Response to “One Helluva Challah”

  1. Michael DiPlacido Says:
    May 10th, 2013 at 5:45 pm

    I want to recognize all the challah bakers at Central Reform Congregation, Debbie Monfort, Carolyn Goss, David Hitt, Renee Spiegelglass, Hilary Simon, Michael Vander Velde, Patty Padawar, Hilary Sament, and Nancy Mohr, who’s labors of love have made our challah program such a great success over the years. And, our “founding father”, Ray Davidson, who’s love, leadership, and inspiration, gave birth to the program 7 years ago. Our challah is truly the result of a group effort characterized by dedication and hard work of all the bakers!

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