Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Beyond the bagel: Breaking the fast with flair

NEW YORK (JTA)—By the time the fast is over on Yom Kippur, the last thing you want to be doing is patchkeing in the kitchen to prepare lots of food. And as much as I can’t wait to shove a bagel and cream cheese with all the fixins in my face, I also like to enjoy something sweet, something salty and something a little fresh with my traditional post-fast carbs.

The rich, sweet coffee cake challah can also be baked ahead of time. And the flavors of the custom dill lemon caper cream cheese will only intensify when you let them sit overnight in the fridge.

Note: If you plan to make your own gravlax, you must start at least four days in advance of serving, or up to a week, otherwise the fish will not be ready to eat.

Homemade Gravlax (by Vered Meir)

This recipe for homemade gravlax from California blogger is simple to make and presents so beautifully on a platter. The first time I made this recipe I couldn’t believe how easy it was and why it had taken so long. It is the perfect accompaniment for your bagel platter after Yom Kippur or on top of latkes at Hanukkah.


2 pounds fresh center-cut wild salmon fillet, skin on

1/2 cup kosher salt

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons peppercorns

2 teaspoons crushed juniper berries (can be purchased at Whole Foods, Fairway, or specialty food stores)

7-8 large sprigs fresh dill

1-2 shots of gin or vodka


In a bowl, combine the salt, sugar, peppercorns, and juniper berries. Line a glass dish that will fit your salmon fillet with 2 large pieces of plastic wrap and sprinkle half of your salt and sugar mixture onto the bottom. Lay half of your dill sprigs down, then cover with your salmon fillet. Sprinkle the remaining mixture on top of the fillet, then cover with the remaining sprigs of dill and your shots of alcohol, and then wrap everything as tightly as you can in the plastic. Leave it in the dish, as the salt will create a brine for the fish. Refrigerate for 3 or 4 days, depending on the thickness of your filet. The lox is finished when the salmon’s hue has transitioned from pink to deep orange. Before serving, discard the dill and rinse the fillet of the brine, peppercorns and juniper berries. Slice thinly against the grain with a sharp knife.  Serve with sliced lemon and capers.

Variation: Try a layer of shredded raw beets on the non-skin side of your fillet before wrapping. After the lox is finished curing, each of your slices will have a purple or dark pink edge to it.

Lemon Dill Caper Cream Cheese

Yield: 6-8 servings

What’s better than serving your bagels with capers and dill and slices of lemon? Adding them into one tasty homemade cream cheese to serve with your bagel spread. This can be made one or two days ahead of time


12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

2 teaspoons lemon zest

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons whole capers, chopped roughly

1 tablespoon fresh chopped dill

Pinch of salt and pepper


Add all ingredients to a bowl. Mix together until flavors are incorporated. Place in a glass bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate 24-48 hours until ready to serve. Garnish with additional dill if desired.

Coffee Cake Challah

Yield: 2 large loaves

Coffee cake is one of my weakness foods, and I love an indulgent slice after fasting on Yom Kippur. This year I decided to combine two of my favorite things to bake into one beautiful and delicious treat: coffee cake challah. This makes 2 large loaves, so it is enough to serve for a large crowd or freeze one to save for later. If you freeze one, wait to add glaze until you defrost it and are ready to serve.


For the dough:

1 1/2 tablespoons yeast

1 teaspoon sugar

1 1/4 cup lukewarm water

4 1/2-5 cups all-purpose flour (I prefer King Arthur brand)

3/4 cup sugar

1/4  cup vegetable oil

1/2  tablespoon salt

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 large eggs

For the crumb topping and filling:

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup packed light brown sugar

1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt

1 1/2 sticks cold butter or margarine, cut into small pieces

1 cup chopped pecans

1 egg, beaten

For the glaze:

2 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 tablespoons milk or almond milk


In a small bowl place yeast, 1 teaspoon sugar and lukewarm water. Allow to sit around 5-10 minutes, until foamy on top.

In a large bowl or stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, mix together 1 1/2 cups flour, salt and sugar. After the water-yeast mixture has become foamy, add to flour mixture along with oil and vanilla. Mix thoroughly.

Add another cup of flour and eggs until smooth. Switch to the dough hook attachment if you are using a stand mixer.

Add another 1 - 1 1/2 cups flour and then remove from bowl and place on a floured surface. Knead remaining flour into dough, continuing to knead for around 10 minutes (or however long your hands will last). Don’t add more flour then the dough needs—the less flour, the lighter the dough.

Place dough in a greased bowl and cover with damp towel. Allow to rise 3 or 4 hours.

To make the crumb topping: Combine flour, sugar, cinnamon and sea salt in a large bowl. Add cold butter or margarine and mix using a pastry cutter until mixture resembles crumbles. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

After the challah is done rising, split the dough evenly in half.  Divide each half into 3 pieces. Roll each piece into a snake and then flatten. Sprinkle crumb topping inside, then pinch sides up to close. Gently roll again to seal in filling. Repeat with all pieces and then braid, forming into a circle and pinching together each end of the braid.

Repeat with second half of dough.

Place each challah on a parchment paper (or silpat) lined baking sheet.

Allow challah to rise another 30-60 minutes, or until you can see the size has grown and challah seems light.

Whisk the egg in a small bowl. Brush on top of each challah. Top each challah with remaining crumb topping.

Bake for 25-26 minutes, or until crumbs are golden brown. Allow to cool 10-15 minutes.

Whisk together powdered sugar, vanilla and milk (or almond milk) in a small bowl. Drizzle on top of challah using small spoon.

Shannon Sarna is the editor of The Nosher, a 70 Faces Media company.


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