Mother-Daughter Challah Night Bakes in Tradition
Simcha SpotlightBat Mitzvah

Mother-Daughter Challah Night Bakes in Tradition

Narissa and Taylor Bonnet prepared a mother daughter challah bake for 40 - all dressed in turquoise aprons and leaving with a recipe of warm feelings of the mitzvah to come.

After 35 years with the Atlanta newspapers, Marcia currently serves as Retail VP for the Buckhead Business Association, where she delivers news and trends (laced with a little gossip).

Several generations of women celebrate the bat mitzvah girl: (back row) Narissa Bonnet, grandmother Hannah Culiner, aunt Candice Keilin. 
Front row: Taylor Bonnet and cousin Skylar Keilin. // Credit: Narissa Bonnet
Several generations of women celebrate the bat mitzvah girl: (back row) Narissa Bonnet, grandmother Hannah Culiner, aunt Candice Keilin. Front row: Taylor Bonnet and cousin Skylar Keilin. // Credit: Narissa Bonnet

Taylor Bonnet’s March 25th bat mitzvah weekend kicked off with a Thursday night challah bake as a way of honoring that shabbat tradition. Parents Narissa and Dan Bonnet included 40 family members and closest friends to share the evening as a “mother-daughter celebration.”

Narissa signs Taylor’s apron as a party memento.

During the evening, Taylor gave a short d’var Torah about the three mitzvot specifically given to women and what they meant to her. She also spoke about the mitzvah of challah and how she connected it to her life. “Challah represents family togetherness, the strands representing family, friends and Hashem all woven together to combine to make life treasured,” she explained.

Taylor’s mom, Narissa, set up the turquoise room with the challah covers

The evening began with a dairy dinner, followed by the challah bake. Narissa prepared 40 bags of dough in advance to minimize prep time at the event. Each table featured prayers for reciting the blessing as they separated the challah. To maximize fun and creativity, different toppings were available to decorate the challahs, including sprinkles, cookies and cream, hazelnut “Nutaylor” (Nutella), s’mores and sesame seeds.

The evening was also dedicated to the color turquoise, which Taylor has always loved.

Taylor Bonnet with her very own “Nutaylor” challah topping.

“The color blue is very representative of her personality: calm, patient and serene,” said Narissa. “In addition, we used butterflies as our theme, as I feel they represent transformation, growth and perseverance, which are attributes of being a bat mitzvah. The preparation, anticipation and celebration were all that she had imagined. She really felt that what made the challah bake so special was that it was intimate and interactive. Not only was she celebrating her own simcha, but she was creating the opportunity for others to fulfill a mitzvah and instill in them the desire to carry on the traditions on Shabbat if they don’t already practice them on a regular basis.”

Maternal aunt Candice Keilin echoed the sentiment. “There are no words to describe Taylor’s kindness and loving nature,” Keilin said. “She is as beautiful as every butterfly, delicate and gentle.”

The bat mitzvah girl was delighted. “Had we only had the challah bake, it would have been enough,” she said.

The Havdalah table setting included Taylor’s favorite: butterflies. // Credit: Narissa Bonnet

Each guest left with their own challah and the recipe and baking instructions for making their own, so that they could enjoy the Shabbat ritual the following day. Narissa was thrilled to receive beautiful pictures of challahs from several guests. In addition, each family was gifted a beautiful custom challah cover with Taylor’s logo on the back, candles and matches with a cover that Narissa, an architect by trade, had made by hand.

Narissa made each guest a turquoise challah cover by hand.

Taylor’s parsha, Shemini, focused on kashrut and ritual purity. On Saturday evening, she conducted Havdalah, followed by a celebration at the Bonnet home pool. Viral Booth of Atlanta was on hand with a very cool mirrored photo booth and EB Catering provided a kosher spread consisting of:
Salmon Poppers, Beef tataki
Smashed Avocado Crostini
Asian Linguini
Pastrami and BBQ Pulled Chicken Pizzas
Caesar Salad
Stir Fried Rice
Drunken Beef Lo Mein
Chicken Satay
Belgian Waffle Station
Fruit Cups

Narissa pre-prepared the challah dough to save time. // Credit: Narissa Bonnet

“As both a student of the Epstein School and a member of Congregation Beth Tefillah, Taylor has a strong Jewish identity and understands that having a bat mitzvah is not the end of her Jewish learning, but rather the beginning,” Narissa concluded.

“Her journey of fulfilling mitzvot, continuing traditions and learning has just begun, sharing her bat mitzvah in this meaningful way was just a small glimpse of what the future holds and the responsibility that is before her.”

Guests left with challah recipe:
1 cup warm water
1/2 cup oil
3 eggs
6 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. honey
5 cups flour
1.5 tsp. salt
3 tsp. yeast

In a medium bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 Tbsp. of sugar in lukewarm water. Wait to see bubbles.
In a separate bowl, mix remaining sugar, flour and salt with fork. Make a well in the center and add egg, oil, honey and yeast mixture.
Mix with a wooden spoon.
Knead the mixture until it has a smooth and stretchy consistency.
Cover the dough and allow to rise in a warm spot for about two hours.
Separate challah and make blessing (if applicable).
Divide dough into two loaves, braid and place on parchment paper. Allow to rise for an additional 45 minutes. Glaze with egg wash and add toppings.
Bake at 350 degrees, for 20-25 minutes, turning halfway to ensure even baking. Remove when golden brown.

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