Leah Hadad wants to turn her new Voilà! Hallah mixes into the next Girl Scout Cookie so there will be a homemade challah on every Shabbat table and a way to raise money to support Jewish organizations.
Most people view bread baking as scarier than appearing on reality TV. Not anymore. Leah’s easy-to-follow mixes ensure that anyone can bake a delicious homemade challah.
Leah is yet another local lawyer-turned-baker, like Cake Love’s Warren Brown and this writer, The Kosher Baker. While my spark came from the Easy Bake Oven at age five, Leah’s baking passion and experience is far more interesting.
Leah was born in Israel among Jews who came from Yemen in 1949 in Operation Magic Carpet. Her first experience baking was with a great aunt, who had a taboon—a wood-burning mud oven –in an outside shack.
“I still remember her dripping with sweat after bending over blazing embers to smack rounds of dough flat against the taboon walls,” Leah says. A different image from the elegant Leah in her DC kitchen.
Leah graduated from the University of Maryland and then Howard University Law School. She practiced insurance defense litigation until she had her three children.
Her challah business started as a “selfish desire” to make things easier for herself. She found her weekly challah baking was time consuming and messy, and secretly wished there was a mix that was natural and tasty.
Leah realized that the ancient custom of baking bread at home had become a lost art. For her, bread baking is also spiritual, something that defines our humanity. And baking challah provided her much needed comfort while recovering from a serious health challenge many years ago.
It took several years to get the recipe right. Leah had high standards for the look, taste and feel of Voilà! Hallah. She created a laboratory and recorded everything meticulously. She tested and re-tested, bringing challahs many place around town to get as many opinions as possible.
Currently, Voilà! Hallah offers three types of mixes: Traditional, Wholey Wheat and Simply Spelt, for those with wheat sensitivities. These signature mixes are the first products marketed by Leah’s company, Tribes-a-Dozen, whose motto is “Break bread, not tradition.”
The two whole grain mixes are particularly impressive achievements—tasty and soft, unlike many whole-wheat challahs that taste more like sheetrock. And you do not have to stop at braided loaves. Leah uses the doughs for the rosemary rolls and babka featured below, and for rugelach, doughnuts and hamantashen, too.
Voilà! Hallah mixes are available in the DC metro area at Broad Branch Market, Brookville Market, Rodman’s, Kosher Mart, Shalom Strictly Kosher, Roots Markets and Chevy Chase Supermarket. They are also sold in markets around the country (check out the company’s where to buy page) and on amazon.com.
Of course, if Leah does enlist adorable kids to come to your door to sell the mixes, you won’t have to go anywhere to buy them. Then it will be even easier to have homemade challah on your table.