A Complete Guide to Separating Challah

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When is Challah Separated?

In order to determine whether our dough requires separating challah, and whether we should separate challah with a blessing or without a blessing, we must consider the type and the amount of flour used and the liquid contents of the dough.

Type of Flour

The obligation to separate challah applies to dough made with flour produced from one of, or a combination of, the following five grains: wheat, barley, rye, oat and spelt.

Amount of Flour

The amount of flour used determines whether challah is separated with a blessing or without a blessing, or is not separated at all.

These are the amounts of flour required for separating challah (according to the opinion of Rabbi Chaim Naeh; see other opinions)
  • Separate challah with a blessing:
When using at least 1,666.6 grams (3 lbs. 10.8 oz.) of flour.
  • Separate challah without a blessing:
When using flour weighing between 1,230 and 1,666.6 grams
(between 2 lbs. 11.4 oz. and 3 lbs. 10.8 oz.).
  • Do not separate challah:
When using less than 1,230 grams (2 lbs. 11.4 oz.) of flour.

All flour used when preparing the dough, such as flour used when rolling the dough, should be included in the calculations.

When Measuring Flour in Cups

It is preferable to measure the amount of flour in units of weight (grams, pounds, ounces) rather than in cups, because different types of flour have differences in moisture content, and the manner in which the flour is measured affects the measuring results. When flour is measured in cups, it is best to avoid the “gray areas” in the diagram below.

The Amount of Flour Required for Separating Challah – in Cups*

* The figures were calculated with a standard 8 oz. (230 cc) measuring cup containing sifted white flour. The figures were calculated based on the opinion of Rabbi Chaim Naeh.

Liquid Contents

In order that challah be separated from the dough, the majority of the dough’s liquid content must be one of the following: water, wine, milk, bee honey, or olive oil.

There is a difference of halachic opinions as to whether the obligation to separate challah applies to dough whose liquid ingredients are only fruit juice or eggs. It is therefore preferable to add a bit of water, wine, milk, bee honey, or olive oil to the dough and separate challah without a blessing.

Different Types of Dough

The mitzvah of separating challah applies not only to challah or bread dough, but also to any dough that meets the requirements of flour and liquids as detailed above, such as the dough of cakes, cookies, and pizza.

If one prepares a dough or batter with the intention of cooking or frying it (such as doughnuts or blintzes), challah should be separated without a blessing. However, if one’s intention is to bake even a small part of it, challah should be separated with a blessing.

Combining Doughs

When preparing more than one dough, and each dough does not have the required amount of flour needed to separate challah, the doughs may be combined, and challah can be separated.

If one is concerned that the different doughs should not get mixed together (such as bread dough and cake batter), they should not be joined.

To combine the doughs, lay them next to one another so that they touch, and separate challah with a blessing. If it is difficult to combine the doughs, one may leave them in their bowls and cover them with a cloth or some other covering so that they appear to be one mass of dough.

Separating Challah After Baking

Challah is usually separated from dough before it has been divided or shaped. In some cases, however, challah needs to be separated from the finished product, after the baking is done.

  • When separating challah from cake batter, challah may be separated after the cake has been baked, since it is difficult to separate a portion of unbaked cake batter.
  • If you have forgotten to separate challah from any type of dough before it was baked, you can separate challah after baking.
If you are separating challah from baked goods, cover them all with a cloth or place into one container. Then take a piece from one of the baked goods and say the blessing if required.

Remember not to partake of the baked goods until challah has been separated.

Amount of Flour - Different Halachic Opinions

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