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Best challah (kosher or not) in the area?

(FYI to those who might wonder, challah = braided egg bread, akin to brioche, that's a staple of the traditional Jewish sabbath meal every Friday night.)

I think I know the answer to my own question (Fishman's Kosher), but perhaps I'm missing an even better loaf of challah from some other bakery here in the Twin Cities.

I consider the "egg braid" at Rustica is a close second to Fishman's. (they don't call it challah as it's not actually kosher)

The challah from Breadsmith and Yum are both edible but not even close to the wonderful loaf that Fishman's produces.

What say ye?

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  1. I have yet to try Fishman's but Rustica's is the best I have had.

    1. It Takes the Cake in Minnetonka has amazing challah.

      1 Reply
      1. re: kersie

        I agree with kersie. It Takes the Cake is amazing! Their regular challah is divine, and their chocolate chip (made only on certain days) goes a step beyond.

      2. the wedge bakery does a nice challah (not kosher)

        2 Replies
        1. re: soupkitten

          Yes, the Wedge is my current favorite. I haven't tried Fishman's, and they're closing soon. Breadsmith I find very bland.

          1. re: JulianPantangeli

            I got a loaf from the Wedge last week. Surprisingly good considering there is no butter. Slighly sweet so I suspect a bit of honey. Good for snarling and good toasted, I would rank slightly below Kowalskis and FMP in my survey below. Probably a 3.2

        2. Yum! Kitchen & Bakery makes a great challah loaf. They are also doing heart-shaped loaves through Valentine's Day. Yum! is located on Minnetonka Ave in St. Louis Park.

          1. Thanks to those who suggested "It Takes the Cake." I got a fresh challah there today and tried it. I think it's a very very close call, but I give the nod to Fishman's for the better challah.

            It's not clear to me if any of the other respondents above have had a Fishman's challah - if you haven't you really should make a point of stopping by on a Friday (earlier is better, it's not unheard of for them to run out by 2pm...) to try one.

            3 Replies
            1. re: baronworm

              This is very interesting that Fishman's is getting a tastier product without any dairy products which would normally be in challah. or am I wrong.............is it just eggs, which are allowed at Fishman's? no milk or butter in challah?

              1. re: faith

                You can make a dairy challah but typically the Friday night Sabbath meal is meat and those who would want a kosher challah will not mix milk and meat -

                1. re: weinstein5

                  In my experience it is not even close. Fishmans has the best challah in town. Nothing else compares.

            2. given the (temporary while they find a new location, perhaps?) closing of Fishman's, my list of favorites now drops to two:

              I still prefer Rustica slightly, for it's excellent flavor and less wonder-bread texture. (this texture also makes it a little less traditional in my opinion)

              If you want an excellent and more "traditional" (see above), then definitely It Takes The Cake.

              If you're desperate, then I say go with Yum or Breadsmith or even Trader Joe's

              (but I must admit, I haven't gotten a challah at Patisserie 46 yet...)

              -----
              Breadsmith
              3939 W 50th St, Minneapolis, MN 55424

              12 Replies
              1. re: baronworm

                Nice summary, though depressing news about Fishman's. Have you seen HeavyTable's challah review? They liked Patisserie 46's challah better than Rustica's, but they didn't review It Takes The Cake's version. I'd be interested in your opinion on P46 vs ITTC.

                http://heavytable.com/the-best-and-wo...

                1. re: baronworm

                  Rustica is good and dense and flavorful. My wife and I make challah from a recipe one of her best friends in college got while going out with a Jewish guy at the time. She (and my wife) are avid bakers. It's uses 3 risings and we use plenty of real butter and make it in loaf pans. It's best toasted, then slathered with a sweet cream butter/marg blend. Crunchy toasted and buttery is the best. I let it rise as long as possible to get a little more "air" into it, but the unprocessed wheat flour gives it a nice coarseness. Our nephews can devour a loaf in one sitting (apiece).

                  I completed a challah quest today with loaves from It Takes The Cake, Patisserie 46, Sun St Breads, and Kowalskis. All are "free form" braids, as is Rustica's. This makes sense as washing out the loaf pans can be quite a chore.

                  So not sure how they will fare in the toaster. There's usually fights over the end pieces from the loaf pan baked challah we make. The ends get the most flaky crust and can hold the most butter/marg blend slathered over them.

                  I'll post the opinions of each after we pig out...

                  1. re: goyimfromroch

                    I feel like It Takes the Cake has improved their challah even more in the 4 months since I last posted praise in this thread. I'll be interested to read your opinion summary, as I've never had challah from Sun St. or Kowalski's.

                    1. re: baronworm

                      I'll do a toasted-only review first - although I've sprinkled in some non-toasted, tear-away comments. This does not take into account kosher adherence, just flat out decadent falvor:

                      ITTC (It Takes The Cake) has the best flavor toasted and is most like the challah we make without the flaky crust since no loaf pan is used. Rich and buttery, sweet, get me some milk to go with this...(I am lactose intolerant, but take lactase pills when the occasion arises. So when a food item screams milk to me, that says something).
                      Good non-toasted, tear-away flavor - with Rustica being ever so slightly better and a little denser.

                      Surprisingly, Kowalski's was 2nd most like the challah we make. Dense, flavorful, chewy but just a bit more plain compared to ITTC. Has a good non-toasted flavor also. Get me milk here also...

                      P46 (Patisserie 46) was denser, a bit less sweet, almost sour (in a good way). It didn't taste as well toasted. Good flavor non-toasted. Probably the best balance between flavor and healthiness.

                      Sun St Breads was good, more airy, OK flavor toasted, OK flavor non-toasted.

                      For French Toast:
                      Kowalski's and Sun St were best as they were a little "stiffer". ITTC was almost too decadent for French Toast. I was too stuffed to try the P46 as French Toast although it seems like it would work also.

                      So if I needed some challah for road food (no toaster available) - ITTC and Rustica would be my choice for different reasons. ITTC just for flat out flavor, Rustica for a little denser, chewier but still very good tasting bread.

                      I'll have to make a side trip over to St Paul for Faces Mears Park - I suppose I have to get there at exactly 11:05am to have a chance at getting a loaf?

                      Another note: ITTC took reserved me a loaf for the next day so pre-orders are possible.

                      Please remember, this is a non-kosher review. I'm into flavor, I make my own challah when I am in an ambitious mood, but I need a way to get a quick fix...

                      1. re: goyimfromroch

                        thank you for the detailed write-up. It is a skilled challah taster who knows the important distinction that must be made between a toasted slice and a "raw" tear-away piece.

                        In our household we rarely get past the latter approach - we call that tear-away a "snarl" of challah. ("hey pass me a snarl, will ya?" :-)

                    2. re: goyimfromroch

                      Why margarine? Unless you are kosher, which you are not (note the butter in the dough), it seems terrible to use margarine on these breads!

                      1. re: sandylc

                        Yikes! Take it easy, it's a butter margerine blend - Country Morning Blend. It has some sweet creamery butter in it. I used to use it for the bread itself but can't get sticks in Rochester anymore. I also use tub butter with sweet cream also - but you know ya' got to cut down on the fat and cholesteral somewhere...

                      2. re: goyimfromroch

                        Faces Mears Park in downtown Saint Paul does an excellent challah, also challah buns.

                        1. re: Kldwsp

                          OK, So I got a loaf from FMP (Faces Mears Park) in St Paul. It was a little pricey, but was about 30-40% larger than the ones from P46 and Rustica. About 25% bigger than IITC and Kowalski's. On the same day, I also picked up a laof from ITTC and Rustica.

                          So we're comparing FMP, ITTC, and Rustica for flat out flavor (as I do not keep kosher).
                          Let's start out toasted and slathered with butter:
                          - ITTC is still tops here in flavor and texture, hands down. Hopefully, they stick around since when I was surfing the web for their store hours, I noticed that the bakery is up for sale.
                          - Rustica is a close 2nd for toasted and slathered.
                          - FMP was 3rd amongst these three.

                          For "snarling" (un-toasted, tear-away), the order is the same. I just wish I lived or worked closer to ITTC.

                          As far as overall (remember that I am doing Kowalski's, ITTC, and Sun Street from memory):
                          1. ITTC - best flavor and toasted texture. Good snarling flavor.
                          2. Rustica (And I gotta' try the Futi and Nut bread when I'm not loading up with 2-4 loaves of challah). Denser, probably the best for snarling on a road trip.
                          3. Kowalski's and FMP
                          4. P46 (My apologies to you P46 zealots, but the owner won national awards in pastries which along with the tasty looking sandwiches will have me coming back).
                          5. Sun Street (Although I think I saw some kind of figgy rye bread here which looked intriguing. I also loved their baguette carry-out sandwich for lunch and for dinner (I think it's was called) Le Croque.

                          So there you have it. The wife (and I) think our homemade challah is still the best in flavor, texture, snarling. (Love that term - thanks baronworm). I know, we're biased since that's what we've grown up on as many others probably have a fondness for the challah that they grew up on.

                          But we use plenty of butter and probably more sugar/honey than any of the bakeries above. It's just nice to know that when it's too hot to bake, or I just don't feel like devoting a day and a half to doing 3 risings and all that kneading, braiding, egg-washing, and loaf pan cleanup - that I know where to get some pretty darn good challah. (Of course, no choco-chip challah like Amy's bread in NYC...yet).

                          1. re: goyimfromroch

                            goyimfromroch are you in Rochester (saw reference above?) Any good place here? I think we've tried Trader Joe's, Prescott's (I think? Or was it Gingerbread House?) and Great Harvest, and my fav is Great Harvest. Wonder if there are other places that sell them here too...

                            1. re: Ummm

                              That's about it...ITTC, Rustica, Kowalski's, FMPark, Wedge Coop,...my top choices in the Twin Cities area.
                              My house in Rochester if I do a batch for Xmas or Easter. Sometimes a summer batch, but since I've found reasonable substitutes in TC area...not as motivated.

                              I want to try the brioche at Patty46 - that's probably where they use the butter...

                              1. re: Ummm

                                Oh I forgot about Daube's Bakery right by Bicycle Sports off 7th St. They will do pre-orders of challah. I've never done it myself, so don't know pricing. (But Daube's is not cheap, but still very good - they use lots of butter).

                      3. Ya gotta "luv" Byerly's fresh-out-of-the-freezer challah . . . gosh, if only they had a bakery.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: bohemianclub

                          I get it fresh, unsliced at the St Louis Park Byerlys. I love it.

                        2. I grabbed some challah today at the Kingfield market from Sunstreet. The crust was toothy, the inside was nothing short of why you love a good loaf of bread. They only make challah on Fridays, but they had some for todays market, so I was appreciative of that.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: bkmnus

                            L'Shana Tova

                            Happy New Year!