Challah is the bread of celebration, a symbol of unity and devotion in the Jewish religion. Traditionally braided like the loaves of old Jerusalem, the egg-enriched bread is pillowy soft on the inside and golden-brown on the outside. Many Jewish homes will have a stash of leftover challah after Shabbat and major holidays, but you don't have to be Jewish to appreciate the ritual sweet bread. Enjoy challah's fluffy texture and sweet flavor in the days following baking day with these sweet and savory recipes.
Egg in a basket. Hole in one. Toad in the hole. This breakfast dish goes by many creative names, but the concept is simple. An egg is skillet-fried into a hole in the center of a slice of bread. It might take a few tries to get the timing and temperature right: your goal is to achieve the desired egg consistency without burning the toast and vice versa. Stiffened challah works best for this recipe because it's more likely to hold its shape in the skillet.
Crispy on the outside, warm and moist inside, French toast is a classic recipe that adds delicacy to your breakfast or brunch spread. The rich flakiness of day-old challah is perfect for absorbing the sweet egg batter. Make it easy with classic ingredients and a dusting of powdered sugar over strawberry slices. If you're in the mood for bolder flavors, experiment with stuffed seasonal recipes. Summer is the perfect time for blueberry cream cheese-stuffed French toast. Apples, pumpkins, and figs are great in the fall and winter.
Pain perdu, or lost bread, isn't your typical French toast. Originating in New Orleans, the recipe uses thick slices of stale bread before they spoil. Challah makes an ideal base for this dish because the flaky bread soaks up the custard batter nicely, especially after it's begun to stiffen. Though the finished dish resembles French toast, the difference is in the cooking method. Soaked slices brown in the skillet before oven-baking to a golden brown. Serve pain perdu with a dusting of powdered sugar, crème anglaise, or warm fruit preserves.
Bread pudding is a traditional dessert that uses stale bread, egg batter, and a combination of sweet or savory flavors in a casserole. Cultures worldwide claim their unique version of this delicious dish, from capirotada in Mexico to black bread pudding in Germany. Experiment with leftover challah and your favorite flavors. Traditional bread pudding ingredients include raisins, cinnamon, and sugar. Use grated orange zest and dried cranberries for citrusy-sweetness or dulce de leche and pumpkin for decadence. Whip up some vanilla bourbon sauce to top it all off.
Strata is a time-honored dish perfect for family parties and brunch get-togethers. The beauty of this recipe is that the savory flavors need time to marinate in the fridge, so grab a glass of wine tonight for tomorrow's challah strata. Try your hand at elegant flavor combinations, such as spinach Gruyère, or satisfy your comfort craving with a ham and cheese blend.
Grilled cheese sandwiches are the ultimate comfort food. Whether paired with the classic tomato soup or on their own, grilled cheese rises to new levels when it's on toasted challah bread. Go with the classic American cheese melt, or spruce up the flavor with some Muenster or Gouda. Add some special touches, like a hint of fig jam or mac and cheese noodles for fun. For that perfect golden toast that doesn't burn, spread the outside of each challah slice with mayo before frying.
Summer pudding is a treat you can enjoy year-round that comes together in no time. You won't even need the oven for this cake, just fresh-cooked berries and leftover challah. Strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries are deliciously thickened into a sweet sauce and poured over layered bread cubes. The pectin in the berries helps to set the dessert mold in the fridge. Prepare the pudding in the morning to chill throughout the day, or make it the night before and pull it out of the fridge when you're ready to serve dessert.
The croque monsieur is a savory recipe that benefits from challah's flaky goodness. It's a hot ham and cheese sandwich with an extra topping of cheese, which melts on a skillet or in the oven. A superbly prepared croque monsieur comes with a delicious crust of melted cheese around the edges. If you're not a morning person, but you still love breakfast foods, the Monte Cristo might be your sandwich soul mate. It's the same recipe dipped in egg batter, then pan-fried.
Croutons might be your preferred salad condiment, but you haven't lived until you've made your own from scratch. Stale challah is perfect for baking fresh croutons. The hardest part of the recipe is cutting leftover bread into small cubes. Toss them in a bowl with olive oil, herbs, and spices, then bake them until they are crispy and golden brown. Store croutons in an airtight container or freeze them in convenient portions.
After you've finished baking challah croutons, keep the smaller browned bits of bread that are at the bottom of the pan. Blend these toasted crumbs with the last pieces of leftover challah and your favorite herbs in a food processor. Homemade challah breadcrumbs add a sweet kick to classic meatloaf and a crispy texture to appetizers, casseroles, and chicken-fried steaks.