We continue our chat with Leah Hadad, president and co-founder of Tribes-A-Dozen Voilà! Egg Bread Mix. Born in Israel, and currently living in Washington, DC with her husband and children, Leah was a practicing attorney prior to founding Tribes-A-Dozen.
How did you decide that you were going to produce premixed boxed challah mix?
After a personal health crisis, I started to bake Hallah weekly for Shabbat dinner. Life as a mother of three was very busy. So, while reconnecting with this Jewish baking tradition was comforting, I secretly wished for an alternative to baking Hallah from scratch. Et Voilà! the idea for Hallah bread mix was born. I immediately knew that, while I wanted the convenience of a mix, I would not compromise on quality. Since I could not find it in stores, I made it myself. When I shared my idea, people encouraged me to blend the mix myself and start offering it in farmers market. But I wanted to do something that would be kosher certified and be readily accessible for the home cook. And, so I did.
How long did it take you to develop the recipes/product? Did you have help?
Ever since I decided in early 2008 that I wanted to create Hallah bread mixes for mass production, I spent my days researching, learning, creating and branding my products and my company, Tribes-A-Dozen. At the same time I devoted time to developing my recipes. I was quite exact, using a scale and a thermometer. And, I recorded everything, including the weather. Once I felt a recipe was ready, I mixed a sample and gave it to my friend Paula Shoyer, the Kosher Baker, whom I hired as a tester baker. I also had a cadre of lay home bakers, friends from around the country, who baked the mix in their home kitchens. Some of them had baked Hallah before, other didn't. They all gave me valuable feedback by answering a detailed questionnaire I designed.
Anything else you would like us to know about the product?
My goal was to create a mix that will be all natural and that will taste like Hallah made from scratch. Developing a Hallah that everyone will agree is perfect is a tall order. As many as there are Jews so is the number of perfect Hallot. You serve a group of people a freshly baked Hallah – some will say it's too sweet while others will say it's not sweet enough. I solved this issue by making sure that it is sweet enough, but not too sweet. If you add sugar to the egg wash, as is suggested on the box, you will have a sweeter Hallah. You can also add up to two Tbsp. of sugar to the mix.
What I really like about my mixes is their versatility. I have fun baking them. I add chocolate chips or sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon, or both. I also make rolls or Hallah sticks. And, my Hallah with cranberry and almond marzipan is a perfect addition to Thanksgiving dinner. For Hanukkah, I use the mix to make jelly doughnuts or soofganiyot. My blog on Tumblr has few recipes, and, once our website is fully developed, I will offer many recipes on my blog.
Hallah or Challah − what's in the name?
With its origins in the Bible, the word Hallah/Challah is made of the three Hebrew letters: ẖet, lamed, and hei. Classical and Biblical Hebrew differentiate between the sounds of ẖet and khaf, the eighth and the eleventh letters of the Alef Bet, respectively. For the most part, Israelis now pronounce both letters the same, as khaf (like in Chanukah). Many American Jews transliterate Khaf as 'Ch,' as in Chanukah. In our synagogue, our previous head Rabbi decreed to spell it as Hanukkah. I say Hanukkah, as I do Hallah. The Rules of transliteration for classical Hebrew, which are also adopted by the Hebrew Academy, transcribe khaf as 'kh,' not 'ch,' and ẖet as 'ẖ,' not 'ch.' Either way you say it, it safe to say we all agree it spells delicious.
Read our feature on Tribes-A-Dozen Voilà! Egg Bread Mix.
July 11, 2012