High Holiday Guide 2020/5781

It’s here: Your 2020/5781 High Holiday Guide from GatherDC. Consider it your one-stop-shop for all things High Holidays happening in and around the District this year. From playlists and recipes to services and reflections, this list has it.

There is a particular need this year for the High Holidays to inspire hope in our future. As our personal and societal structures seem to be breaking down, and our lives seem more uncertain than ever, GatherDC hopes to use these traditionally reinvigorating holidays as a chance to bring our community together, offering a collectively-formed path with purpose as we move into the new year. As part of this, GatherDC is presenting a theme from which the community can frame the holiday experience: CRASH / BURN / RISE.

In crashing, we experience loss, grief and panic, and are forced to adjust to new realities. In burning, we recognize that destruction can lead to growth and room for change. In rising, we rediscover purpose and power, and walk determinately toward the future.

So, here’s how to use it…

  1. Explore the list of events below. We will update it regularly, so check back often.
  2. Email us at info@gatherdc.org if you’re not sure which event is right for you or you’re looking for something different.
  3. Add any High Holiday events for Jewish 20s/30s across the DMV that you know, but don’t see listed.
  4. Enjoy it! There’s tons of good stuff here, even in a year that looks so different from the normal we know.

Preparing for the High Holidays


Sunday, August 30th

Tuesday, September 1st

Thursday, September 3rd

Friday, September 4th

Sunday, September 6th

Thursday, September 10th

Friday, September 11th

Saturday, September 12th

Sunday, September 13th

Monday, September 14th

Tuesday, September 15th

Wednesday, September 16th

Thursday, September 17th

Friday, September 18th

  • 5:00pm – The Blast! Shofar blow from Nats StadiumThursday, September 24th

Thursday, September 24th


High Holidays Playlist

Rosh Hashanah (September 18-20th)

September 18th (Erev Rosh Hashanah)

September 19th (Rosh Hashanah, Day 1)

September 20 (Rosh Hashanah, Day 2)

Yom Kippur (September 27-28th)

September 27 (Kol Nidre)

Monday September 28 (Yom Kippur, Neilah)

GatherDC Curated Experiences

Crash-Burn-Rise: A Collective Yom Kippur Experience

Come for the Jewish wisdom, stay for the live acoustic music, thoughtful introspection, and compassionate goal-setting for the new year. Sign up today!

High Holiday Deep Dives: 5781 Edition

To help us navigate this weird new year together, GatherDC is offering its popular High Holiday Deep Dive – 5781 Edition to explore our high holiday theme: Crash, Burn, Rise. *Note: These cohorts are now full*

Cast Away: A High Holiday Ritual

Hoping for an IRL connection this High Holiday season? Us, too. Join us for a socially-distant, but spiritually-close Rosh Hashanah tashlich (6-feet apart, of course. We’ll reflect on the past year and cast away what is weighing us down. Location is metro accessible. Sign up today!

Recipes & Catering

(Click each title to expand)

  • Bread
  • 2¼ teaspoons (¼-ounce packet) active dry yeast
  • ⅓ cup plus 1 teaspoon honey, divided
  • ⅔ cup warm water
  • ⅓ cup canola or safflower oil, plus more for the bowl
  • 2 large eggs plus 1 large yolk, lightly beaten (reserve 1 tablespoon for egg wash)
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 4¼ cups all-purpose flour plus more for your work surface and kneading
  • Apple Filling
  • 2–3 medium baking apples (Fuji, Jonagold or Crimson Crisp)
  • Juice from ½ a lemon
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil (or 1 tablespoon butter if having a dairy meal)
  • 2½ tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon, divided
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 1½ teaspoons honey
  • Egg Wash
  • 1 tablespoon beaten egg
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • Raw sugar for sprinkling (optional)


  • Dough: Whisk yeast and 1 teaspoon honey into water and let stand for a few minutes until mixture is foamy. In the bowl of a standing mixture, whisk together yeast mixture, oil, remaining honey (⅓ cup), eggs and yolk. Switch to dough hook and add 4¼ cups flour and salt. Use dough hook on a moderate speed until it pulls all of the flour and wet ingredients together into a ball.
  • Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead by hand until the dough feels smooth and soft, about 5 minutes. Add a little flour if the dough is too sticky. Transfer dough to large oil-coated bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 1 hour, or until almost doubled in size.
  • Apple Filling: Peel, core and cut the apples into ¼-inch chunks. Combine in a bowl with lemon juice to keep them from turning brown. Heat the oil or butter in a large frying pan over medium-heat. When the oil is hot, add brown sugar, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, pinch of nutmeg and apples. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring often, until the apples are fork tender, but not too soft. Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and honey and stir. Transfer apple mixture to a glass bowl and let cool. Strain out any remaining liquid before filling the challah.
  • Assemble Challah: Turn dough out onto a floured counter and gently press it down into a flat, square-ish shape. Spread ⅔ of apple mixture over half of the flattened dough. Fold the other half of the dough over the apples and press the dough down around the apples to flatten the dough. Spread the remaining apple mixture over half the folded dough.
  • Fold the other half over the apples, pressing the dough down again. Fold the corners of the dough under and form the dough into a round. Flip your bowl over the dough and let it rise an additional 30 minutes
  • Shape Challah: Carefully roll and stretch dough into a long wide log. If any apple chunks fall out, poke them back in with your finger. Holding one end of the log, spiral the other end around until you have a round loaf. Tuck the end under and pinch to secure. Transfer the dough to a parchment-lined heavy cookie sheet. Beat egg wash ingredients with a fork until smooth. Brush over challah. Let challah rise for another hour. While the bread is rising, preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Bake Challah: Before baking, brush loaf one more time with egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar, if using. Bake in middle of oven for 40 to 45 minutes. It should be beautifully bronzed. If the challah browns too quickly, loosely cover it with foil for the remainder of the baking time. The challah will sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Cool on a rack before serving.

Don’t you love when you whip up a recipe that looks really impressive, but was actually a total cinch to make? This is one of those recipes.

This ooey, gooey, sweet and savory pull-apart bread goes great with a glass of wine and close friends. But it also serves as a fun, crowd-pleasing appetizer for Rosh Hashanah gatherings (if you’re serving a dairy meal).

If brie isn’t your thing, swap it out for cheddar. And if you want to make this dish really, really Jewy, you can use a round challah.


1 round loaf sourdough bread (or other round crusty bread)

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

2 sprigs fresh thyme

1 sprig fresh rosemary

Pinch of sea salt

½ apple, sliced thin

½ lb brie cheese, cut into thin 1 inch slices

2 Tbsp honey

Thick sea salt (optional)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with tin foil.

In a microwave safe bowl, melt butter at 30 second intervals. Add fresh thyme and generous pinch of salt.

Using a serrated knife, cut the top of bread diagonally in one direction, then diagonally in the other direction, creating a criss-cross. Be careful not to cut all the way through. Gently fan the bread out slightly to accentuate the squares of bread.

Pour butter mixture all across the top of bread and into the crevices.

Place slices of brie and apple in between all the squares of bread. There is no such thing as too much in this step. Just stuff as much as you can.

Drizzle with honey and top with thick sea salt if desired. You can also add some additional herbs at this point on top, but it’s not necessary.

Place bread on top of foil lined baking sheet. Cover loosely with another piece of tin foil. Bake for 10 minutes.

Remove piece of foil. Bake another 10 minutes, until bread is golden and crisp, and cheese is oozing. Serve immediately.

 Prep Time 20 minutes
 Cook Time 1 hour
 Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
 Servings 12 servings


  • 1 cup canola or other neutral oil + bit additional for coating the pan
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup raisins A combination of dark and golden yields a nice color and taste contrast. 
  • 1/3 cup orange or apple juice
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt or kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups apples, peeled and chopped About 2-4 medium-sized apples.
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 2-3 tablespoons confectioners (powdered) sugar


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F and oil a bundt pan well,  making sure to coat all the crevices.
  2. Heat  the juice, add the raisins and soak them (to plump them up) while you prepare the other ingredients.  I heat the juice by microwaving it on high for about 1 minute.

  3. Mix the oil and sugar in the bowl.

  4. Then add the eggs and mix again.

  5. Add the flour in 2-3 batches, mixing after each one. As you add it, the mixture gets stiff.
  6. Mix in the raisins and juice in which they are soaking.
    1. Add in the salt, cinnamon, baking soda, and vanilla and stir the mixture thoroughly.

    2. Dump the apple chunks into the batter and mix it again.

    3. Finally, add in the chopped walnuts, again mixing until they are combined into the batter.

    4. By fork or spoonfuls, move the batter into the greased bundt pan and smooth the top out with the spatula. The batter is stiff – way too thick to pour.
    5. Bake the cake for 1 hour – 1 hour 20 minutes, until a knife inserted in it comes out clean (no wet batter sticking to the knife.)
    6. Let the cake cool in the pan sitting on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes. After the cake has cooled, gently run a knife edge around the outside and inside of the tube, place a plate or the wire cooking rack on the top of the cake and turn it over. The cake should release when you flip it over.  If it doesn’t, turn it back up and  gently work the knife in a bit farther bent from the outside rim toward the center.  Let it cool further.

    7. Once the cake is completely cool, you can dust it lightly with confectioner’s sugar.

    Recipe Notes

    bundt pan is best for this cake. If you use another pan (such as a 10-inch round), adjust the baking time accordingly.

    Neutral oils include canola, safflower, and grapeseed. Olive, sesame, and similar oils do not work well in this recipe because their taste is too strong.

    Many apple varieties work well in this cake, including Golden and Red Delicious, and Granny Smith.  Macintosh and Rome are too soft.  I prefer a mixture of 2-3 varieties. I slice them into quarters, then halve each quarter and chop the slices into pieces about 1-inch long. If you’re not immediately going to add them to the batter, sprinkle a bit of lemon juice on the apple chunks to keep them from browning.

    Microwaving the juice before adding the raisins, causes the raisins to absorb the liquid and plump up.

For the cake:

  • 2 cups [240 g] all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp ground ginger
  • 1½ tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ½ cup [100 g] sugar
  • ½ cup [120 ml] buttermilk or [120 g] plain yogurt
  • 1½ cups [400 g] unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/3 cup [80 ml] canola or other neutral oil

For the frosting:

  • 6 oz [170 g] cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 Tbsp sour cream
  • ¼ cup [85 g] honey
  • Pinch of kosher salt


  1. To make the cake: Preheat your oven to 350°F [180°C]. Spray the bottom and sides of a 9-in [23-cm] round cake pan with baking spray and line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper. Set the pan aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and baking soda. Add the eggs, sugar, buttermilk, applesauce, and oil and whisk gently just until everything is combined. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the batter into the prepared pan and then smooth the surface so it is even.
  3. Bake the cake until it is just barely firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Set the cake aside on a wire rack to cool to room temperature.
  4. Use a dinner knife to loosen the edges of the cake from the pan sides and then invert it onto your work surface. Peel off and discard the parchment. Invert the cake one more time onto a serving platter. To make the frosting: In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese, sour cream, honey, and salt and whisk together aggressively until the cream cheese is slightly aerated (you can also do this with a handheld electric mixer or in a stand mixer).
  5. Spread the frosting over the top of the cake and don’t worry too much about making this perfect. I think a not-too-perfect cake is so much better than a perfect cake. Cut into wedges and serve. Leftovers can be wrapped in plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.


  • Blintzes
  • 4 eggs
  • 1⅓ cup milk
  • ⅓ teaspoon salt
  • ⅓ teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • Butter, for frying
  • Filling
  • 24 ounces ricotta
  • 2 egg yolks
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • Apple Compote
  • ¾ cup honey
  • 2 pounds apple, peeled and diced
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • ⅓ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (2 sticks) butter
  • Honey Butter
  • ¾ cup honey
  • 1 cup (4 sticks) butter
  • Sweet Walnuts
  • 3⅓ cups walnuts
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2¼ tablespoons
  • 1½ teaspoons salt


  • Blintz batter: Combine all ingredients together in a blender, except butter, and blend until smooth. Let batter rest for 1 hour. In a crepe pan or small nonstick pan, melt a small amount of butter. Ladle in just enough batter to coat the bottom of the pan. When set, flip blintz over to kiss the other side. Stack blintzes on a plate, repeating with batter until you run out.
  • Filling: Whisk all ingredients together.
  • Assemble blintzes: Spread some of the filling on each blintz, leaving about half an inch bare all around. Roll moderately tight, trimming the ends off. Melt butter in a medium pan, add blintzes and fry lightly on each side until golden. Compote: Heat honey in a large pot over medium heat, and cook until reduced by half. Add apples, lemon, salt and butter. Simmer until well combined and cooked down. Cool.
  • Honey butter: Melt butter and honey together until well combined. Cool.
  • Nuts: Rinse nuts. Soak in warm water for 15 minutes. Drain. Fill a medium pot with water, add nuts and boil for 10 minutes. Drain. Rinse with cold water. Combine sugar and 1 cup water in a small pot and bring to a boil. Add nuts. Simmer until syrupy. Toss with oil and salt. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line a baking sheet with a silicone liner or parchment paper. Transfer nuts to pan and bake until toasted and fragrant.
  • Serve blintzes with apple compote, honey butter and topped with sweet walnuts.


  • 3 ounces Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye Whisky or whiskey of your choice
  • ½ teaspoon crushed fall spices, such as cinnamon, star anise, clove, allspice, etc. (You can also buy a package of mulling spices and use a coffee grinder or mortar and pestle to crush them.)
  • 2 ounces freshly squeezed orange juice
  • ¾ ounce honey
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • Ice
  • Orange peel


  • Stir the spices into the whisky and allow it to sit for several hours or overnight to infuse. Strain the whisky through a strainer with a coffee filter to remove the spices. Add the water to the honey and stir to dissolve it into a slightly thinner syrup. Add the spiced whisky, juice and honey to a cocktail shaker with several pieces of ice. Shake for 10 to 15 seconds. Strain into a chilled martini glass or rocks glass. Garnish with an orange peel, twisting before you toss it into the drink to release oils in the peel.

On Rosh Hashanah, there is a custom to eat apples dipped in honey to bring a sweet new year. As explained in 1001 Questions And Answers About Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur by historian Jeffrey Cohen, honey is the preferred form of sweetness because it is tied to manna, which the Torah describes as “honey-like wafers,” as well as because bees are an apt symbol of God, given their ability to create beauty as well as punish (via a sharp sting).

Regular old honey will certainly satisfy tradition, but why not spruce up your nectar by infusing it with ginger, cloves, vanilla, or even rosemary. Not only will doing so give rise to added dimensions of flavor (which, in turn, can complement different species of apples), any surplus product makes for a lovely New Year’s gift to send to loved ones celebrating Rosh Hashanah from afar.

If the idea of infusing honey has you fearing a sticky situation, rest assured the process is relatively simple and requires minimal planning. 

1. Choose Your Honey

When selecting a honey to infuse, focus on lighter varieties, which tend to be naturally mild and therefore are less likely to contribute other flavors that will “compete” with your infusion ingredients. Looking to make use of that jar that has been sitting in your pantry, since, um, the last millennium?  Because honey is one of the few foods that does not spoil, you can probably get away with it, though you may need to remove the crystals that naturally occur over time.

2. Choose Your Infusion 

Select your herbs or spices to infuse. The combination of vanilla beans and cinnamon sticks will give rise to a comforting spread that is the perfect for baked goods (try it on babka!), while pairing ginger and nutmeg gives rise to a honey with autumnal notes that is a fitting sweetener for tea, coffee, or milky chai. Consider lavender for a lovely floral essence or chili peppers for a honey that packs some hefty sweet heat. Finally, earthier infusion ingredients, such as thyme, basil, or rosemary, are great for nectars to use in savory meat dishes, such as honey roasted chicken breast or pork tenderloin.

3. Infuse

Next measure out your honey and ingredients. For every 1 cup of honey, use roughly 1 to 2 tablespoons of herbs or spices. Note that while fresh herbs will provide stronger flavors, dried versions are preferable as they are easier to measure.

Then, place the infusion ingredients in a glass jar with an air-tight lid along with your honey. Mason jars or any jar with a tight seal and a wide mouth are ideal as they facilitate adding and eventually extracting the infusion elements.

Stir honey with a small wooden spoon in order to best distribute the spices or herbs. Secure the lid of the jar and leave rest for up to two weeks, and remember, the longer you keep the infusion,  the stronger its flavor profile will be in the honey.

4. Finish and Make it Fancy

Strain the infused spices/herbs from the honey into a clean container. And if you’re feeling extra festive, adorn with a bow or a colorful cover. As this tutorial demonstrates, the latter can be easily created by procuring quilting squares from your local craft store (or online), tracing the outline of the jar lid on fabric, and trimming any excess material with shears.

Finish with a label, and, sweet! You have your infused honey.

A traditional Sephardic Jewish dish, these leek patties are typical of the Balkans and Turkey.  They are eaten year round, but customarily served on Passover, when leeks are in season, and on Rosh Hashanah. Leeks (prasa in Turkish) are one of the ceremonial foods that are part of the traditional Yehi Ratzon seder on Rosh Hashanah. They are eaten to symbolize our wish for our enemies to be cut off, or, according to other interpretations, a wish for friendship. While there are several versions of the patties—with ground beef, with or without potatoes—in this vegetarian recipe, I substituted mushroom for the beef and added a handful of spices to mimic the earthy meat flavor a vegetarian could miss.


  • 10 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil, plus more for frying
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt, divided
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic granules
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon ground Aleppo pepper
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 12 ounces (4 medium) potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 1 pound leeks, white and tender green parts, rinsed and sliced
  • 1 medium onion, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley (leaves and tender stems), finely chopped in the food processor
  • 1 tablespoon tender celery leaves, finely chopped in the food processor
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill, finely chopped in the food processor
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • ¼ teaspoon finely ground white pepper
  • ¾ cup panko breadcrumbs or panko matzah meal, divided


  • In 10 short pulses, chop cleaned, sliced mushrooms in a food processor, until coarsely chopped. Transfer to a bowl and mix with 2 teaspoons oil, 1 teaspoon sea salt, garlic granules, cinnamon, paprika, Aleppo pepper, balsamic vinegar and sugar. Let sit for about 20 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, boil potatoes until easily pierced with a fork, drain and let cool. Add chopped leeks and onion to a hot pan over medium heat and sweat until softened and all the liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Remove and let cool. Add diced mushrooms to the pan (with no oil) and sauté until liquid has evaporated and mushrooms are lightly caramelized, about 8 minutes. Let cool.
  • After you chop greens in the food processor, remove and set aside. Use the same bowl to briefly pulse leeks and onion few times. Add cool potatoes and use short pulses to combine into a coarsely textured mixture. Transfer to a large bowl. In a small bowl, lightly beat together eggs, ¼ cup crumbs, white pepper and remaining teaspoon salt. Add to potato-leek mixture. Add mushrooms and mix to combine. Add more crumbs if the mixture looks liquidy or soft, one teaspoon at a time. Cover and let chill in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours.
  • Put remaining breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. With wet hands, shape a small amount of the mixture into a ball the size of a Ping-Pong, press lightly in to a 2-inch disc, coat on both sides with crumbs and transfer to baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the mixture.
  • Add oil to a frying pan until it’s ½ inch deep. Heat. Gently drop patties onto the hot oil and press lightly with a spatula to flatten. Fry 4 to 6 at a time, and avoid overcrowding. Cook over medium heat for about 3 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Remove patties using a slotted spoon and drain on a plate lined with paper towels. Serve hot or at room temperature with a spicy tomato sauce or a wedge of lemon. You can also freeze the cooked patties; when ready to serve, reheat in a 350-degree oven for 20 minutes.

Let us be the first to say Shanah Tovah! Rosh Hashanah might look a little different this year, but your spread shall not suffer. Neighborhood Provisions is here to make your High Holidays very special. Our very own Chef Jarrad Silver from Birch & Barley has developed a menu of traditional savory and sweet staples: housemade challah, smoked brisket, babka bread pudding – oh my! Pre-order today to get dinner delivered to your door by our veteran staff, trained in all matters of health and safety, from Thursday, September 17th through Sunday, September 20th.

A quick search for challah will return beautiful images of long, braided bread. But you may notice a few round challot (plural of challah) as well. What’s up with that? Well, some Jews bake round challah for Rosh HaShanah, the Jewish New Year. Some go extra hard and bake round challah for a whole month beforehand. But why? Ask different Jews and you’ll get different answers, but most say that round challah is meant to represent the circular nature of our year, or the seasons. Another explanation I like is that a round challah (especially a spiral challah, see below), turns in on itself, just as we’re encouraged to spend this season reflecting on who we are and who we want to become. So whether you’re a regular baker or trying your hand at it the first time, enjoy these tips on how to make your very own round challah. And while you’re at it, consider making a sweet challah — symbolic good luck for a sweet new year.

What you need:

  • 2 big bowls
  • 1 cup
  • 1 wooden spoon
  • 1-2 baking  sheets, pie dishes, casserole dishes, etc. (or whatever floats your boat)
  • Parchment paper/silicone baking mat (optional, but very helpful)
  • 1.25 cups water
  • 1 tbsp active dry or instant yeast
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 eggs + 1 egg, whisked, for egg wash
  • 1/2 cup canola/vegetable oil
  • 6 cups flour + 1 cup just in case (bread flour if possible, but it’s still good if it’s regular)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • Topping(s) of choice (sesame or poppy seeds, everything bagel seasoning, large-grain salt, brown sugar, za’atar, whatever blows your hair back)

Make it happen:

Honey has been mixed into water in a metal mixing bowl, turning the water light orange.

1. Place very warm (but not hot, let the faucet run for a bit) water in a mixing bowl.

2. Add honey, making sweet water. Add yeast, mixing lightly, so it all gets wet.

  • The yeast will eat the sugar in the honey water and produce carbon dioxide, which is what makes the bread fluffy.
  • If you don’t mind getting your hands dirty, you can gently and manually break up the bigger yeast bubbles at first, so that all the yeast is able to come into contact with the water.
Two photos showing before-and-after of yeast in a mixing bowl converting honey water into carbon dioxide. In the first photo, the yeast particles are visible on top of the water.
In the second, their activity has caused a film of bubbles to form over the water.

3. Allow to sit for 10 minutes or so, usually less… until you see little eruptions.

  • If you’re not watching the yeast water, you might miss the “eruptions”, but you’ll see clearly that it’s all puffed up when you come back to it. That’s totally fine.
  • Once you see that it looks like it’s not puffing up much further, you’re ready for the next step.
Two photos showing before-and-after of eggs and vegetable oil being mixed together in a mug. In the first, three egg yolks rest submerged under translucent oil.
In the second, blending has turned the liquid opaque.

4. While you’re waiting, mix eggs and vegetable oil together in a cup. Add the eggs and vegetable oil to the bowl and mix with a wooden spoon.

  • I don’t know why you need to use a wooden spoon. My recipe says wooden spoon, and it’s worked for me so far.
Mixing bowl halfway through adding the flour. Dough is beginning to come together, still liquidy but starting to create clumps. This is the stage at which I usually add salt.

5. Add flour and salt.

  • Remember: salt and yeast are not friends, and mixing them will hurt your rise. Don’t put the salt in with the yeast right away. Wait until you’ve added some of the flour.
  • (I put in half the flour, then add salt, then add the rest of the flour.)
Two pieces of dough rest on a floured countertop. The left dough has been kneaded, floured, and shaped, resulting in a neat and compact ball. The right dough is fresh from the mixing bowl, rough around the edges and with a great deal of flour still visible on the surface. The left dough is smaller than the right.

6. Mix.

  • If the dough is not holding together as a ball, add a bit more oil or water. If the dough is very sticky, add more flour.
  • The dough is ready when it sticks together as a ball and is not sticky to the touch when you poke your finger in.
  • If I’m using a mixing machine/KitchenAid/etc., this usually takes 3-5 minutes. If I’m doing it by hand, it takes 6-10 minutes or until I get too tired and decide it’s ready.

7. Work it out.

  • Take half the dough and put it onto a floured work surface.
  • Knead it out, and punch a few times until very smooth.
  • Then do the same with the other half of the dough.
Both balls of dough, now neat, are placed in mixing bowls, one plastic and one glass. Each ball takes up about half (or a little less) of the bowl.

8. Place in oiled bowl(s) and cover in plastic wrap and/or towel.

  • The oil makes it easy to take the dough out for braiding, without it sticking to the sides. Saves so much hassle!
The mixing bowls have been covered with plastic wrap and hand towels, and sit on the bottom rack of an oven. The oven door is open for the picture and the light is on. When the door is closed, the light will generate a small amount of heat, creating the perfect environment for rising dough.

9. Allow to rise at least one hour in a warm place, preferably more, until dough has risen.

  • Your oven, turned off but with the light turned on, is perfect for this. Before I learned this trick, I put it in the closet, though, and it turned out fine.
  • If you’re going to let it rise for more than two hours, split the dough into two separate bowls so there’s room for more rising.
  • Now that I’m working from home, sometimes I let my challah rise for like five hours during the work day. It doesn’t rise much more after the two hour mark, but it doesn’t hurt it.
Several hours later, the mixing bowls have been removed from the oven. The dough has grown immensely, now filling the space and, in one bowl, straining against the plastic wrap.

10. After an hour-plus, bring your bowls to the counter/table.  If the fates are in your favor, the dough will have doubled in size.

Close-up of one mixing bowl. The plastic wrap has been removed and a fist has been pressed into the dough, leaving a visible indentation and causing the dough to begin peeling back from the sides of the bowl.

11. Punch gently into each bowl to deflate the dough, and remove it.

The dough has been removed from the bowl and kneaded out a bit to remove air bubbles. Now it sits on the counter in a rough rectangle shape, ready for braiding!

12. Knead out all the air bubbles, and get ready to braid!

  • I set up my baking sheets with parchment paper before I start braiding. This way I can transfer my masterpieces as soon as they’re ready and don’t have to touch them after they do their second rise.
  • But, challah (like the Jewish people) is resilient and will rise wherever you need it to, so you do you.

Now there are lots of ways to make round challah, but I’ve picked out 4 easy-ish methods: the three-braid, the criss-cross, the classy clump, and the mixer dance. Scroll down past these methods to find the baking instructions.

The Three Braid

If you know how to braid hair/cord/rope, this is the same method. I like to start from the middle, but it’s the same concept. Once you have your long braid, you’ll just arrange it in a spiral pattern, and tuck the end underneath. That’s it! Ta-da!

(Photo shows three ball-like pieces of dough resting on a counter.)
First, divide your dough into three roughly even portions. (Photo shows three ball-like pieces of dough resting on a counter.)
Photo shows three columns/rolls of dough resting on the counter, parallel to each other.
Next, roll the balls out into three strips and arrange them on top of each other in a kind of asterisk shape.
Photo shows the left and right rolls tilted and laid on top of the center roll.
Then, you’ll go ahead and braid the dough. You’ll braid first the bottom half of the asterisk, then the top half, so the whole thing looks like one long braid. If the asterisk method is confusing to you, just pinch one end of each of the strands together and braid it down like that. It’ll still turn out beautiful!
Photo shows a strand of braided dough twisted into a spiral, with gaps in between so the dough doesn’t touch itself.
Once you have your braid, twist it into a spiral shape.
Photo shows the spiral tightened to remove the gaps, creating a round braided shape.
Then close the gaps so the dough looks like one cohesive piece. Brush with egg and decorate as you like.
Photo shows a golden-brown round challah resting on a wooden cutting board. The braids have baked together, resulting in a textured pattern with bumps of various sizes. The challah is topped with everything bagel seasoning.
And here’s the final product, post-oven, with everything bagel seasoning! Scroll to the bottom of the page to find baking instructions.

The Criss-Cross

This looks so fancy, but it’s secretly just a bunch of three-braid challahs. Setting up the middle is the only complicated part, and then it’s just braiding and arranging. Super cute for little individual “challah knots”!

Photo shows six ball-like pieces of dough resting on a counter.
First, divide your dough into six roughly even portions.
Photo shows six rolls of dough arranged in the shape of a hashtag, resting on the counter.
Next, roll the balls out into six strips. They’ll probably be thinner than you’re expecting, which is totally fine. Arrange them in a hashtag/pound sign shape, with the top three perpendicular to the bottom three and a little space in between.
Photo shows the six strands woven together in the center, with three strands sticking out on each side.
Now begin weaving the strands together to create a lattice. You’ll have to pick up strands as you go, to get the right effect. Leave a little space between the strands — it’ll fill in as it rises and bakes — and be sure to leave long ends dangling on each side for the next step.

Now it’s time to braid! Using your three-strand braid skills, turn each “side” of the lattice square into a braid.

Photo shows a braided challah resting on the counter, with the lattice in the center and four small braids radiating out from the sides.
Once all four sides are braided, you should have an X-shaped challah, with the open-ish lattice in the center.
Photo shows the dough twisted into a spiral, with each braid bent to the left.
Next, twist each braid to the left, creating a shape like a spiral galaxy.
Photos show the spiral tightened to remove the gaps, creating a square braided shape.
Leave it as-is, or tuck the end of each braid under the centerpiece to complete your round challah. Brush with egg and decorate as you like.
Photo shows a golden-brown challah resting on a wooden cutting board. The braids have baked together, resulting in a textured pattern with similarly-sized bumps. The top left is a deep brown, where the bottom right is fairly pale. The challah is in the shape of a rounded square and topped lightly with everything bagel seasoning.
And here’s the final product, post-oven! Scroll to the bottom of the page to find baking instructions.

The Classy Clump

No braiding required! Truly one of my favorite challah styles, and ideal for groups with strong and varied preferences for challah toppings, since you can mix-and-match toppings on different clumps.

Photo shows a metal springform pan, with parchment paper lining the bottom, resting on a counter.
First, set up your pan. You don’t need a round pan for this, but if you have one, it’ll help ensure your dough stays round if it expands too much. I’m using a springform pan here, but truly anything oven-safe will work. Just be sure to line it with parchment paper so the bread doesn’t burn onto the bottom.
Photo shows ten smaller dough balls surrounding a larger central ball. In both cases, the dough rests on parchment paper placed inside a springform pan.
Then separate your dough into several clumps — at least six, but the more the merrier — and roll into balls. Arrange them nicely in your parchment-lined pan. I like the flower method, where you place one ball in the center, and the others around it like petals. Feel free to experiment with balls of different sizes, but too small and they’ll all just bake together.
Photo shows eight balls of rough arranged like petals around a white ramekin. The ramekin is significantly larger than any of the dough balls.
Or, if you like, you can put an oven-safe round dish in the center, and arrange the balls of challah around it. Once your challah is cool, you can fill the center dish with honey or the dip of your choice.
Photo shows one central ball of dough, drizzled with honey, surrounded by ten smaller balls, each topped with a seasoning.
Then brush with egg and decorate your challah as you like — with one topping, or several. Here, I used honey, za’atar, everything bagel seasoning, all-purpose seasoning, salt, and garlic + rosemary.
Photo shows ten smaller dough balls surrounding a larger central ball. In both cases, the dough rests on parchment paper placed inside a springform pan.
Then separate your dough into several clumps — at least six, but the more the merrier — and roll into balls. Arrange them nicely in your parchment-lined pan. I like the flower method, where you place one ball in the center, and the others around it like petals. Feel free to experiment with balls of different sizes, but too small and they’ll all just bake together.
Photo shows eight balls of rough arranged like petals around a white ramekin. The ramekin is significantly larger than any of the dough balls.
Or, if you like, you can put an oven-safe round dish in the center, and arrange the balls of challah around it. Once your challah is cool, you can fill the center dish with honey or the dip of your choice.
Photo shows a golden-brown challah resting on a wooden cutting board. The clumps have baked together, resulting in one cohesive challah with rolls that can be easily torn away.
And here’s the final product, post-oven! This challah was fun to share because the rolls tore away easily from the center. Scroll to the bottom of the page to find baking instructions. One special note: about halfway through baking, I saw that the outside balls had expanded so much that they needed more topping. I took the challah out for a moment, brushed it with a little water, and added more toppings, then put it back in.

The Mixer Dance

So-called because you twist each braid once, then “trade partners” and do it again and again, creating a beautifully entwined final challah.

Photo shows four ball-like pieces of dough resting on a counter.
First, separate your dough into four roughly equal clumps.
Photo shows four strips of dough resting on a counter in parallel lines.
Then roll them out into four roughly even strips…
Photo shows four strips of dough arranged in the shape of a hashtag or lattice, resting on the counter.
… and arrange them in a woven hashtag/pound sign shape, with the top two perpendicular to the bottom two, but overlapping.

Place each lower strand over the higher strand next to it, going clockwise for the first round, counter-clockwise for the second round, clockwise again for the third, and so on until you run out of dough.

Photo shows a completed raw challah resting on a baking sheet, with overlapping braids created a round shape.
When everything is braided, it should look something like this. Top with egg wash and your topping of choice.
Photo shows a completed baked challah, a deep brown color with yellow folds, resting on a wooden cutting board. The challah has longer strips around the edges and the center looks more like braids or bubbles.
And here’s the final product, post-oven! Scroll to the bottom of the page to find baking instructions. I topped my challah with honey and salt, and broiled it right at the end to get deep color on top without burning it.

Baking Instructions

  1. Allow to rise another half hour or so, sitting on your counter/table/etc. while your oven pre-heats.
  2. Once the oven is ready, paint with a whisked egg (yolk and white). You can use a brush if you have one, but your fingers will do just fine. Top as you like.
  3. Then cook at 350 for 25 minutes, checking every few minutes thereafter until the challah is to your liking (usually another 5-10 minutes).
  • Poke at the seams. If they seem doughy, give it more time. To be safe, poke a knife in. If it comes out cleanly, you’re ready to go.
  • If the top seems like it’s browning too fast, put pieces of foil around the brown parts to keep them from burning.
  • If you want more color, you can put your oven on broil for 2-5 minutes to get a nice golden brown color. Just be careful, because it can change color fast!

Check out Sunflower Bakery for all of your yummy High Holiday treats! They’ve got everything from Challah to Gluten Free tarts to chocolate crinkle cookies!


  • 3/4 cup dark or light brown sugar (dark brown sugar will result in a darker, moister cake)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil 
  • 1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour 
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce 
  • 1/3 cup + 2 Tbsp honey

Optional: 1/4 cup honey,1 Tbsp powdered sugar, and/or 1/3 cup pomegranate seeds for decorating.

For the almond honey cake, add: 

  • 1/2 cup sliced toasted almonds
  • 1/2 cup warm honey for soaking


  1. Preheat oven to 340 degrees F. Line the bottom of 9″ loaf pan, or 9″ round pan for the almond honey cake, with parchment paper and grease the sides.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift the flour, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda together. Set aside.
  3. In a large measuring cup, mix the applesauce and honey together. Set aside.
  4. Place the sugar and eggs in the bowl of a standing mixer and mix on medium speed for a few minutes until the mix is lighter in color, 4-5 minutes.
  5. Turn mixer speed to low and slowly drizzle the oil into the bowl. Return speed to medium.
  6. Add the flour in three additions alternating with the applesauce-honey mix.
  7. Pour batter into greased loaf pan. Bake until the center is golden and a toothpick comes out clean from the center of the cake, 45-50 minutes.
  8. Let the cake cool before slicing. If you chose, drizzle the cake with 1/4 cup of warm honey or dust it with some powdered sugar.

For the almond honey cake:

    1. Repeat steps 1-6.
    2. Pour batter into greased loaf pan. Bake until the center is golden and a toothpick comes out clean from the center of the cake, 25-30 minutes. 
    3. When ready to top the cake, preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Remove the cake from the pan and place it on a cooling rack placed on a cookie sheet.
    4. With a small tooth pick, poke the cake and brush it with the warm honey. Top with almonds.
    5. Bake for five minutes. Allow the cake to completely cool before placing on a serving dish.

“Every story will ultimately and inevitably crash. You’ll find a more compelling story whose answers you like better. Or an event will occur that makes your story’s answers no longer workable. Or something inside you has shifted. You’ve changed. And those old answers just don’t seem true anymore. Now you’ve got to figure out who you are, what you believe and how you’re going to live your life.” – Rabbi Benay Lappe