Challah taste test reveals many good choices in Providence area


Do you like your challah soft and fluffy or with a dense, firm bite? Do you prefer a loaf with seeds? Is a golden crust important to you? Do you have definite opinions on the best braid for a Shabbat challah?

Regardless of your preferences, chances are that you can now find the challah of your dreams at a Rhode Island bakery. There are many more choices now than just a few years ago.

We chose five loaves from Providence-area bakeries to taste test. This wasn’t meant as a contest for the “best challah,” since that is truly a matter of personal preference. Instead, we focused on popular choices. The tasting did not include egg-free or gluten-free challahs.

The tasters were about a dozen staff members of the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island. You may be surprised to know that one taster admitted to never having had challah before!

Loaves were sliced and then cut into pieces, and were tasted without spreads or dips.

We were surprised at the subtle differences in the five loaves, which showed that there really is a challah for everyone. And not one challah “failed” our taste test, although some were more popular than others.

The tasters were enthusiastic about the challah at the Oak Street Bake Shop. The smallest of the challahs, it is tightly braided with tapered ends. Tasters said it was dense and chewy with a good, sweet flavor.

The loaf at Maven’s Delicatessen, in Pawtucket, looked like the ideal challah, tasters said. It was pillowy with a nice shine and great golden color. The tasters liked the texture, but many wanted the challah to be a little sweeter. Several tasters said it would be great as toast.

The loaf from Miami Onion Roll, available in Whole Foods, was described by several testers as tasting store-bought, though others termed it light and slightly sweet.

Navad Bakers, in East Providence, offered the only loaf with seeds – ours had sesame seeds – which gave it a completely different look. Several tasters mentioned that the seeds did not fall off! Tasters called this challah airy, yeasty and beautiful.

The Seven Stars Bakery’s braid looked a bit deflated, according to our tasters, and seemed uninspired. One taster, who said this was his go-to challah, said the one we tested was not as eggy and dense as usual.

In other local challah news, we were unable to test the loaf at Like No Udder, because the vegan ice cream shop was moving to Hope Street when we did our tasting, in May. Like no Udder has since reopened, and has vegan challah available on Fridays via online ordering. These sell out quickly!

Look for more tastings in Jewish Rhode Island in future months. We may try honey before Rosh Hashanah and horseradish before Passover. Want to join the fun? Send an email with your ideas to

FRAN OSTENDORF ( is the editor of Jewish Rhode Island.


The details

Maven’s Delicatessen ( Challahs in a square loaf or a long braid available in the deli or by preorder daily. $12.95.

Miami Onion Roll Bakery. This braided challah was on the shelf at the Waterman Avenue Whole Foods midweek. $5.99.

Navad Bakers ( Challahs are available at various outlets around Rhode Island and Massachusetts, as well as at the East Providence production facility. $7.

Oak Bake Shop ( Braided challahs are available for preorder on Thursdays and for pickup on Fridays. These sell out quickly. $13.

Seven Stars ( Challahs are available on Fridays at every Seven Stars Bakery. $9.35.