Want to bake challah with me? (Free recipe booklet available!)

**this is a sponsored post**

Recently, FrontGate Media offered me the chance to learn more about challah (usually pronounced HA-lah in English), and also to bake it myself! It was a lovely experience. I want to tell you about what I did, and offer you a free download of a beautiful booklet (including a recipe!) from Emunah Israel so that you can make this beautiful bread yourself!

Who is Emunah Israel?

Emunah Israel is an NGO in the Holy Land and I absolutely love their history and purpose:

“Emunah, one of Israel’s leading social action organizations, was founded over 80 years ago to help give homes to children arriving in Israel after the Holocaust. It has developed over the decades, always  dealing with the challenges of contemporary society. Emunah’s activities focus on education, social welfare, and societal change through legislation, aiming to strengthen the Jewish family, advance the status of women, and care for vulnerable children.  You can learn more here:  https://www.emunahangels.org/ “

They’ve created this fantastic booklet for people to learn how to make delicious challah bread; and it learn about what it has meant for generations of Jewish people. Jewish women have made challah bread for literally thousands of years! Making challah hearkens back to the manna which fed the Hebrews as they wandered for 40 years through the desert (Deuteronomy 8:3).

This lovely booklet (which you can download free here at Challah Bake) has a delicious challah recipe plus braiding instructions for the dough. It explains what challah means in Jewish and Israeli history and tradition, as well as what each one of the ingredients means (did you know that even the mixing bowl has a meaning?). It also shares what Emunah Israel has accomplished over the years in the lives of children, students, families, and women.

And, our Challah experience!

I love making bread and used to make it several times each month. (Somehow Covid got me out of that habit.) But, I had never made challah although it is one of my favorite breads. In fact, I attended day camp at a Jewish Community Center as a first grader. At the end of day camp (there was a sort of festival) I got to try challah for the first time. I was absolutely captivated by it; it was truly the best bread I’d ever tasted. So, this opportunity was one that I was thrilled about; to learn to make the best bread on the face of the earth! And, both my process of challah-making, as well as its end result, were a delight!

Challah is a yeast bread. So, the process includes mixing the ingredients, kneading them, letting the dough rise, punching it down and then letting it rise again. And then, dividing the dough into six logs for braiding!

The braiding was the most difficult part for me to do. (As you’ll see! 😉) The Emunah challah booklet showed step-by-step visual directions. But (as my geometry teacher could have told you) I sometimes struggle with taking a 2D image and replicating it into my 3D world. So my braiding went a bit wonky. (I also think that trying to braid 6 strands rather than the 3 I’m used to braiding might have had a bit to do with it. Still, I think with practice, I can do it someday!)

But, all was not lost! The next step was painting the braided dough with an egg wash, letting the dough rise again, then baking it.

I admit. I did end up with a sort of a challah cornucopia shape. But it was delicious!!

About the process

I really did find that there was a spiritual and relational element that my family and I felt as we made and enjoyed the challah. The process of creating the challah was restful and peaceful (even with that wonky braid) and just a pleasure to complete. Because there are two risings that the dough has to go through, making challah enables the baker to stop and rest between-times. Emunah Israel has included beautiful prayers that the baker (and family) can pray before and during the process. And, the booklet also includes the meaning of each ingredient; what it represents and how it can bless both the baker and her family. (I say “her” because in Jewish tradition, Jewish women throughout the millennia have been the challah bakers.)

I plan to make challah again. (I do need to work on that braiding!) It enriched my soul as well as our bodies. What a joy.

How you can get a copy of Emunah Israel’s challah-baking book

It is free for anyone who’d like to receive it! Simply click on the link below. You’ll fill out your name and email address and Emunah Israel will send you a digital, printable copy.

Emunah Israel’s free Challah Bake booklet

If you do get this booklet and make the challah, please let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear about your experience!

Thank you for reading. Let’s make challah!

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclosure: This was a sponsored post. Everything I’ve shared here was my own honest opinion.

“Link2Us” ~ a brand-new lifestyle & faith magazine

#sponsor #partner

Recently, FrontGate Media sent me a copy of a brand-new lifestyle magazine that incorporates faith, beauty, wellness, and more. I’d love to share my impressions of Link2Us with you, and let you know how you can subscribe to print or digital versions!

About Link2Us magazine

Link2us magazine is a lifestyle publication at the intersection of faith and popular culture, providing readers with a blueprint for living their best and most authentic lives. Each issue delivers fresh and engaging stories, conversations with today’s most inspirational figures, the latest food and wellness trends, relationship and finance tips, home décor solutions, and much more, with faith and inspiration at its core. Our feature content highlights noteworthy figures, up-and-comers, and everyday people impacting their communities and the culture at large. We provide real solutions for real people, living in the real world.

My impressions

I thought that Link2Us was a gorgeous, high-quality magazine. The articles, which included everything from interviews with celebrities of faith (singer Lecrae and “Bachelor” contestant Madison Prewett), mental-health providers and advocates, food blogger Becky Hadeed, book lists, and even fashion pages. The publisher, editors, and writers for Link2Us clearly understand that women of faith are interested in information and articles on ALL parts of their lives, and in this issue, they definitely provide that.

Its photography and layouts are on high-quality paper (a bit thicker than most magazines), and in style and beauty resemble magazines like Vogue or Bon Appétit. The food, fashion, and celebrity photos are, in a word, exquisite, in the skills of the photographers (and those of the stylists, location scouts, lighting directors, and so on). The whole magazine is just a pleasure to look at.

There was a lot of variety not only in the articles, which included not only those I’ve mentioned already to some about church hats, food instability, prayer, and more; but also in the wide diversity of the subjects interviewed and photographed. Many men and women of color were both photographed and interviewed; what a great reminder that all God’s children really are every color! I think that this will make Link2Us something that many readers will be interested in.

I appreciated, in particular, the articles that encouraged people of faith to also take care of their mental health, and to acknowledge that every part of life, whether it’s exercise, processing grief, or embracing new traditions, is worth focusing on.

…and my favorite moments

I’ve shown you some of the lovely photos from the magazine. I wanted to include some of my favorite quotes for you as well, to give you a bit more flavor!

  • From Lecrae: “When you are religious, you are really stressing yourself out to be perfect and trying to do it all in your own strength. And when you mess up or miss a step, it’s devastating to you because you are thinking about your own resume–not the fact that you should be dependent on God in the first place.”
  • From Madison Prewett: “I think so many of us really value those big, life-changing moments. But I would say that a lot of my book (Made For This Moment) is about, is how to value the small moments and how to steward the small things well–because it’s the small moments that will one day become the big moments and lead to the bigger things.”
  • From home baker Sheila P. Johnson: “It was a way to bring happiness and comfort to my neighbors by sharing something that I loved and created.”
  • And some of Dawn Rusinko’s (self-proclaimed control freak) reminders to add to your daily prayer: “God will give me rest…will strengthen me…will answer me…is for me.”

Isn’t that the most lovely way to close out a magazine for people of faith!

Where you can find Link2Us

You can find Link2Us magazine in Barnes & Noble and Books-a-Million stores and airports in the U.S., and at Chapters/Indigo stores in Canada.

And, how you can subscribe

If you’d like to subscribe to either the digital version or the print version of Link2Us, just click on the link below. Also, when you sign up for a 1-year subscription, you’ll receive a Link2Us tote bag!

Subscribe here!

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclosure: I received a copy of this magazine from its publisher and FrontGate Media. All opinions are honest and my own.

“Holiday Cookies” ~ A Review

Are you always looking for fun and different cookies you can make in December for the holidays?

I admit, I am.  We make biscotti every Christmas…but often we’ll search for something different or unusual that we haven’t made before.  We love making spritz cookies (the cookie press is so fun to use) but I’m often disappointed by the bland flavor.  We like making sugar cookies, especially multicolored ones that you roll up.  But what else is out there?



Elisabet der Nederlanden’s Holiday Cookies has tons of holiday cookie options—many of which I’d never even heard of before!


What will you find in Holiday Cookies?

Food stylist and professional recipe developer Elisabet der Nederlanden is a resident of Berkeley, CA, but was born in and grew up in Sweden.  She learned to bake as a child and worked in a bakery as a teen.  She loves decorating for Christmas (and all its associated celebrations, like St. Lucia Day) and baking wonderful cookies and treats.  So, she brings her love and experience with baking and goodies to this book, which truly is a labor of love.  She searched out, prepared, and selected 50 unusual and delicious cookies whose origins are from countries all over the world.

What I really love about this cookbook is that you’ll find the usual suspects of Christmas cookies (like bark, gingerbread cookies, sugar cookies) but they are livened up with gorgeous decorations, unusual flavors, and unexpected tweaks that make cooking, and decorating, more enjoyable and fun.  The pictures are absolutely breathtaking and they WILL make you want to scurry to the kitchen and bake!  It’s also written in a lovely conversational manner that will make you feel as though der Nederlanden is sharing her fabulous cookie wisdom with you.



She begins with cookie-baking and decorating tips (including a great section on royal icing, which makes rolled cookies so beautiful), helpful ideas for shipping cookies and storing them.  And then the fun begins!  Der Nederlanden has divided her book into 6 sections with 8 recipes each:

  • Very Merry Classics (with gingerbread cookies, black and whites, Red Velvet Crackle Cookies, stenciled shortbread rounds)
  • Cookie Exchange Party (where you’ll find Bejeweled Chocolate Cookies, Malted Milk Chocolate Cookies, Red-and-White Meringue Kisses and more)
  • Warm Holiday Spice (which includes Saffron Pistachio Biscotti, Cinnamon-Sugar Palmiers, and Thumbprints with Spicy Plum Jam)
  • Around the World (Swedish Pepparkakor, Mexican Wedding Cookies, Italian Pignoli Cookies, and other fun recipes)
  • Holiday Confections (with goodies like Apple Cider Caramels, Matcha Chocolate Bark with Berries and Coconut, and Smoked Almond and Cacao Nib Brittle)
  • and finally, Decorated Delights, where the author shares recipes for cookie ornaments, Gingerbread Place-Card Cookies, Stained-Glass Snowflakes, and even a Gingerbread House

The recipes all seem to be well-researched (and tested) and the directions are very clear and easy to follow.  (Of course you’ll still want to read through the cookie recipes before you prepare them; some of them have ingredients that you might not have on hand.)


Our favorites

We LOVE Swedish Pepparkakor.  The St. Lucia celebration is so beautiful, and pepparkakor cookies are served then.  The cookies are crisp and carry ginger and cloves (and of course, a bit of pepper).  I don’t have der Nederlanden’s fun goat and pig cookie cutters, but we do have lots of others!

I like the saffron biscotti recipe as well.  It is beautiful and colorful, thanks to the saffron, which I’d never have imagined as a biscotti ingredient!

Other favorites include the Minty Spritz Cookies (I told you I needed a good spritz recipe!), the Gingerbread Place-Card Cookies (although honestly my hand doesn’t have beautiful cursive handwriting with icing!), and the Citrus Sugar Cookie Ornaments.  So many fun recipes to add joy to Christmas celebrations!

More about the author:

Elisabet der Nederlanden’s website


Enjoy!  –Wren


DISCLAIMER:  I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

From time to time, FINCHNWREN may receive a free product or service in exchange for our honest opinions expressed in our blog. We are not required to write a positive or glowing review, nor are we additionally compensated for these reviews. We share our own opinions, and our family’s opinion, of these products. We’re disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.