Jane’s Kitchen: Seven Species Challah

From Jamie Geller Test Kitchens


1/2 cup warm water 

1/2 cup pomegranate juice, at room temperature 

2 1/2 teaspoons yeast 

1 cup bread flour 

2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt 

1 cup barley flour 

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil 

1/3 cup silan date honey (recipe below) (or use bee honey and add some dates to the figs below) 

2 whole eggs 

3 egg yolks 

4 cups bread flour (4 to 5) 

1/2 cup raisins 

1/2 cup dried figs, stemmed and chopped 

1 whole egg 

1 tablespoon water 



  1. In a mixing bowl for a stand mixer, combine water, pomegranate juice, yeast, bread flour, and salt. Cover and allow to rise for 1 to 3 hours. The surface of the sponge will appear puffy and spongy in texture with bubbles and divots. The sponge will also smell rich and yeasty with a bit of an alcohol aroma. Those are the flavor building blocks for good bread! 


  1. Add barley flour, evoo, silan, whole eggs, yolks, flour, raisins, and figs to sponge. Knead until a dough that is slightly tacky forms. You don’t want to add too much flour to produce a dry dough. Flour needs to rehydrate and a tacky dough allows enough moisture to do that. 
  2. Either cover and refrigerate dough overnight or cover and allow to rise about 2 to 3 hours in a warm spot before braiding. If you cover and refrigerate, the next day allow dough to come to room temperature before braiding. 
  3. Once dough has risen, braid or pan as desired on a greased baking sheet or pan. Cover and allow to rise at least 2 to 3 hours. A long second rise gives the dough better flavor, so do not rush the second rise! 

Egg Wash: 

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. 
  2. Whisk egg and water. 
  3. Brush egg wash on challah. Allow to “set-up” on dough for 10 minutes. Brush dough a second time for a lacquered effect. 
  4. Bake at 350°F for 12 to 15 minutes, rotate baking pan, and bake an additional 12 to 15 minutes or until you hear a hollow sound when bread is thumped gently. 

Yield: 2 large loaves or 4 small 

Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 0 Calories; 0g Fat (0.0% calories from fat); 0g Protein; 0g Carbohydrate; 0g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 0mg Sodium; 0g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 0mg Calcium; 0mg Iron; 0mg Potassium; 0mg Phosphorus. 




Date Honey Syrup – Silan


2 lbs pitted dates 

8 1/2 cups hot water or more if needed 

Place dates and water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a low simmer and cook for 2 hours or until dates are very soft and starting to dissolve. If mixture begins to look dry, add a little more hot water; dates should be mostly covered by liquid throughout the process. By the end of cooking the liquid should be thick and brown. 

Let the mixture cool to room temperature. Pour the liquid through a strainer lined with cheesecloth into a large mixing bowl. 

Add small batches of dates to the cheesecloth (about 1 cup at a time) and give them a really good squeeze, trying to get out as much of the liquid as possible. Remove the pulp and continue with the remaining dates. 

Clean out your saucepan and pour the strained date liquid back into it. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat a bit and simmer for another 20-30 minutes or until liquid thickens enough to coat the back of a cold spoon. It should have the consistency of thick maple syrup. Remove from heat. 

Date honey will continue to thicken as it cools. Once it reaches room temperature, it should be similar to the consistency of honey. If the mixture isn’t thick enough for you, feel free to warm it up again and resimmer. Careful not to overcook or overthicken. 

Store date honey syrup in the refrigerator. Cold syrup will be quite thick, but it will soften quickly when brought out to room temperature. 

Note: the leftover pulp can be added to cookie or muffin recipes or mixed with yogurt. 

As one of the Seven Species mentioned in the Torah, dates are referred to as “d’vash” which directly translates to honey. Many scholars believe that the Torah’s mention of honey is actually date honey, or date syrup, rather than the kind produced by bees. 

Yield: 1 cup