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a New Challah Recipe from rebbetzin Rochie's Kitchen!

So Purim time for this girl, means thinking up a new recipe for challah that is unique, is connected to purim, and is, of course, delicious.

This year I got to thinking about poppy seeds…

Our famous purim treats, those triangular filled cookies, Hamantaschen, were really originally called ‘Mohn Taschen’ (or poppy pockets) Some clever woman, (i’m sure it was a woman) decided to add the “ha” to it, and voila! It was a purim treat! Reminding us of the evil Haman who was vanquished for eternity!

Mohn (poppy) was a favorite Eastern European filling for many a treat, and every country from that region seems to have its own version of a poppy seed filled dessert.

But I somehow never developed a taste for it. I always loved the prune filled hamentashen (also a classic) although I don’t love anything else prune. But the poppy. meh. Never thought anything of it.

This year though, as I was contemplating my purim challahs, it occurred to me that a poppy challah would be a great combination of so many traditions… but what to do about my lack of love for those little black seeds?

Enter inspiration in the form of a muffin. (Aren’t muffins always inspiring?)

In my favorite Gluten Free bakery, I bit into a lemon poppy muffin, and realized - that this was the missing link! I love lemon-poppy…. Why not bring that into my poppy challah, and make it something I can really love. The lemon really brightens the overpowering sweetness of a poppy filling, and that little bit of crunch in each bite is really great! Also, this poppy seed filling recipe I'm about to give you is amazing, and has converted me. (no more store bought poppy seed filling, it doesn't compare)

So here you go… a lemon-poppy studded challah filled with a poppy seed filling that converted even moi over to the poppy side…


(see all the way at the bottom of the page for rosette shaping instructions, and the reason for this flower shape on Purim!)

Lemon-Poppy Purim CHALLAH


Yield: 4 x 1lb challahs or 2 large challahs    

2 cups          very warm water
3/4 cup        sugar
4.5 tsp         granulated yeast
4 cups +      all-purpose unbleached white flour
3.5-4 cups        
11/2 Tbsp    sea salt
1/2 cup        canola oil
2 zested       lemons (zesting means to grate on smallest holes)
1/2 tsp         lemon extract
2  tsp           vanilla extract
1/4 cup        poppy seeds
2 large         eggs

Yield: 2 x 1lb challahs or 12 small challah rolls

1 cup            very warm water
1/4 cup         sugar
2 tsp             granulated yeast
2 cups +
1–11/2 cups  all-purpose unbleached white flour
2 tsp              sea salt
2 Tbsp           canola oil
1 zested        lemon (zesting means to grate the peel on smallest holes)
1/4 tsp          lemon extract
1 tsp             vanilla extract
2 Tbsp          poppy seeds
1 large          eggs

In a large bowl, pour the very warm water. Add the sugar and then the yeast. Allow a few minutes for the yeast to bloom.

Add the first quantity of flour and all of the salt and mix until a smooth batter forms.

Add the oil, zested lemon, lemon extract, vanilla, poppy seeds and eggs, and stir again until smooth.

Gradually add the remaining flour, mixing with your hands or stand-mixer until the flour has fully incorporated into the dough. Be sure to add only as much flour as is needed to form a workable dough.

Turn the dough out onto a hard surface and knead for about 10 minutes or until the dough springs back when lightly touched.

Pour 3–4 teaspoons of oil into the bowl.
Turn the ball of dough around in the oil until the outer layer of the dough has been thinly coated.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a warm, damp dishcloth and place in a warm spot to rise. Allow the dough to rise for 1.5–2 hours, until it has doubled in bulk.


While the dough is rising, prepare the poppy filling (see below)

If you are making the half recipe, separate challah without a blessing. If you are making the quarter recipe, no need to separate challah. See page 320 of my cookbook for instructions.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Divide the dough and braid or shape as desired. FILL WITH POPPY FILLING!  See below for recipe!


Place shaped challahs on lined baking sheet. (see below for special Shoshanat Yaakov Purim shape!)

Brush each challah with the egg glaze after braiding.

Allow challahs to rise for an additional 30–45 minutes.

Glaze challahs again.

Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes (medium-sized challah; time will vary according to challah size). The challah is ready when its underside is brown and it sounds hollow when tapped.


1 egg, well beaten with 1 tsp water

(or you can buy store bought... but not really, this filling is so much better!)

Yield: Makes alot! Enough for the half recipe and more.... Totally worth it though. Make it and keep it in a sealed jar in the fridge for the next time you make this. (I have a feeling it will be soon)

11/2 cups      coconut milk (I used the full fat version)
1 cup             sugar
1 tsp              vanilla extract
grated zest    1 lemon
grated zest    1 orange
1 cup             ground poppy seeds (I ground it in my food processor)
1/3 cup          ground almonds
1/3 cup          ground walnuts

In a sauce pan, over medium heat, bring the coconut milk, sugar, vanilla and zest to a boil.

Stir in the poppy seeds and simmer for 5 minutes on low heat. Stir constantly to prevent sticking.

Add in the ground nuts, stir to combine and remove from heat.

Mix well and allow to cool.

Shoshanat Yaakov Shape

There is a famous poem/song that we sing after the Megillah reading. It is called ‘Shoshanat Yaakov’ The Rose of Jacob. As the Jewish nation is referred to in King Solomon’s Song of Songs.

There is a tradition, stemming from Eastern Europe, to make the purim challah in the shape of a flower to recall our status as the “Rose of Jacob”

Here’s my version!

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