Tomato Basil Challah | The Jewish Week | Food & Wine

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Tomato Basil Challah

Tomato Basil Challah

Tomato Basil Challah. Courtesy of Veronica Sage McAvoy/The Countryman Press

2 medium loaves

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I am always looking for ways to infuse some Italian ness into my Jewish cooking, and a tomato basil challah is an obvious choice and a delicious pairing. The tomato paste adds both a beautiful red hue and a touch of sweetness to the dough. You can substitute with puréed sun dried tomatoes or sun dried tomato paste if you prefer.

Mens Flynit Trainers


For the dough:

1 ½ tablespoons dry active yeast

½ cup + 2 tablespoons 
+ ½ teaspoon sugar

1 ¼ cups lukewarm water

4 ½–5 cups unbleached bread flour (preferably King Arthur)

1 ½ teaspoons table salt

¼ cup vegetable oil

¼ cup tomato paste

2 teaspoons dried basil

2 large eggs

For the topping:

2 egg yolks (or 1 whole egg)

1 teaspoon water

1 teaspoon dried basil

¼ teaspoon coarse sea salt

  1. For the dough: In a small bowl, place the yeast, ½ teaspoon sugar, and lukewarm water. Stir gently to mix. Allow to sit 5 to 10 minutes, until it becomes foamy on top.
  2. In a large bowl or stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, mix together 1 ½ cups of the flour, salt, and ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar. Add the water yeast mixture, oil, tomato paste, and 2 teaspoons dried basil to the flour. Mix thoroughly.
  3. Add another 1 cup of the flour and 2 eggs and mix until smooth. Switch to the dough hook attachment if you are using a stand mixer.
  4. Add another 1 ½ to 2 cups of the flour and mix thoroughly. Remove from the bowl and place on a floured surface. Knead the remaining ½ cup flour into the dough, continuing to knead for about 5 minutes.
  5. Place dough in a greased bowl and cover with a damp towel. Allow to rise at least 3 hours.
  6. Divide the dough in two and braid the challahs into desired shape. See pages 32–45 for braiding.
  7. Place braided challah on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or silicone baking mat. Allow challah to rise another 45 to 60 minutes, or until you can see the size has grown and challah seems light. This step is very important to ensure a light and fluffy challah. Preheat oven to 375°F while the dough rises.
  8. For the topping: In a small bowl beat 2 egg yolks with 1 teaspoon water. Brush the egg wash liberally over the challah. Sprinkle with dried basil and coarse sea salt.
  9. Bake 24 to 26 minutes, or until the color is golden.

This recipe is an exclusive preview from Shannon Sarna’s new cookbook, “Modern Jewish Baker” (The Countryman Press) where Sarna reinvents Jewish bakery classics. This recipe has been republished with permission of the author. For more recipes click here, and to purchase the book go to