The Jew And The Carrot

Rocky Mountain Challah (With Tofu!)

By Becky Cohen

  • Print
  • Share Share
Courtesy of Stephanie Botvin

I got to sit down with Stephanie Botvin, winner of the 2013 Challah Contest at the Rocky Mountain Food Festival, who was already convinced from the start that she made the best challah in Denver. After having tasted her challah, it was no surprise why she won.

With a unique cake-like consistency, the use of honey, tofu (replacing eggs), and whole-wheat flour, this challah definitely sets itself apart from the rest. Stephanie told me how her challah baking brings her into the Shabbat spirit, how her participation in the food festival helped her shed new light on Jewish food issues, and how her transition to Denver from the East Coast inspired her to make this award-winning challah in the first place. She generously gave me a loaf to take home, which was finished off that afternoon.

So what is the story behind Stephanie’s delicious and unique challah? After moving to Denver from the east coast, Stephanie became nostalgic for a “rich and cakey” challah that she loved from one of her favorite bakeries in Boston. A friend of hers had given her a recipe that reminded her of the cakey consistency. She has made challah baking a family tradition, making it just about every week.

Besides the fact that Stephanie couldn’t find a challah in Denver that was up to her satisfaction, she says baking the challah is not only cheaper and healthier, but it helps her and her family enter into the Shabbat spirit. “It inspires us to do a whole Shabbat dinner and say the prayers”, she says.

This was Stephanie’s first time participating in the food festival, a friend of hers who participated last year convinced her to enter her challah in the contest. Stephanie thoroughly enjoyed the food festivities, getting to listen to interesting speakers and attend relevant seminars. “One of the seminars that I went to was about food entrepreneurship, that was one of the things I was thinking about, possibly marketing my challah”, she said. And I have no doubt that she could.

Her challah didn’t always turn out perfectly, however. With the flour being drier in Denver, it made for a challah that lacked moisture. After experimenting with the recipe several times, she finally found the right amount of each ingredient and also found that letting the dough rise for longer got her the consistency that made her challah so special.

Stephanie was also very impressed with the positive energy around the Jewish food movement. “There are a lot of people who identify with their Judaism through cultural things, food is a huge part of that. It’s a way of drawing people into the Jewish community that are not comfortable in a synagogue setting”.

It was a pleasure talking to Stephanie and learning how the food festival was so successful in introducing and engaging people in the Jewish food movement and the Jewish community in general. As an added bonus, anyone who was lucky enough to have tasted her challah that day must have come home pretty satisfied and inspired about perhaps baking their own challah!

I wasn’t lucky enough to receive Stephanie’s challah recipe, she’s determined to keep those secret ingredients to herself, and honestly, I can’t blame her, it’s an award-winning recipe after all.

Stephanie Botvin lives in Southeast Denver with her husband, who is also a foodie, and their four year old son. She continues to make her challah every week and is excited to participate in other Hazon festivities in the future.

Rebecca Cohen, originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, will be a junior at the University of Oregon where she studies French, and is also interested in pursuing journalism. She has always been an active member of her Jewish community, and has thoroughly enjoyed interning with Hazon in Denver where she can combine her love of food, Judaism, and outdoor fitness.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: challah contest, recipe, Challah, Rocky Mountain Food Festival

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Israelis are taking up the #IceBucketChallenge — with hummus.
  • In WWI, Jews fought for Britain. So why were they treated as outsiders?
  • According to a new poll, 75% of Israeli Jews oppose intermarriage.
  • Will Lubavitcher Rabbi Moshe Wiener be the next Met Council CEO?
  • Angelina Jolie changed everything — but not just for the better:
  • Prime Suspect? Prime Minister.
  • Move over Dr. Ruth — there’s a (not-so) new sassy Jewish sex-therapist in town. Her name is Shirley Zussman — and just turned 100 years old.
  • From kosher wine to Ecstasy, presenting some of our best bootlegs:
  • Sara Kramer is not the first New Yorker to feel the alluring pull of the West Coast — but she might be the first heading there with Turkish Urfa pepper and za’atar in her suitcase.
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.