The South's Best Challah is Hiding in This Memphis Cookie Shop
You know those food memories you treasure because they can take you back in time? One bite in and you're sitting around your mother's dining room table or wearing your favorite Sunday school dress. In my family, one such memory isn't even homemade. Well, not homemade in our kitchen at least.
My memories were made over in the ovens at Ricki's Cookies Corner where, despite the name of Ricki Krupp's store and the street credit of her famous chipstick cookies, challah was the name of the game for my family. Growing up, you'd find a loaf (or two) of her challah sitting on my family's table every holiday. With good intentions, my mother always brought out the bread knife. Once we said the blessing, there was no stopping my brothers and me from tearing off a huge hunk before any slicing stood a chance. The messier the tear, the tastier the slice.
I'd say I was letting you in on a secret, but ask any Memphian where to buy a challah, and they'll point you in the same direction. Tucked away in Eastgate Shopping Center, Ricki and her daughter Aviva bake hundreds of challahs each week. That easily turns into thousands during the holidays–a far change from the days of making loaves in their home kitchen and selling them off of their dining room table decades ago.
Courtesy Ricki's Cookie Corner / Facebook
And word of our Memphis secret has gotten out. The last time my mother went to pick up her Rosh Hashanah loaves, FedEx was coming by to pick up holiday breads in batches. The trick is to ship them frozen, apparently, so they stay fresh longer for the college students and long-distance family members that look forward to bread at their doorstep each holiday.
Although her business has expanded well beyond the walls of her home, Krupp still keeps things personal. Not only is everything done by hand, but she also knows everyone by name, regardless of how often you stop by. Plus, there's always a little something for her customers–a small gift, like a water bottle or bag, to make you feel a part of her baking community. She remains as sweet as can be, chatting with everyone who comes by regardless of how early she came in to start baking or how many orders she knows she has to crank out on any given holiday.
WATCH: Hasselback Challah French Toast
While I'm never one to steer you away from homemade, especially when making challah as a family has so much meaning and tradition baked in, even my mother is willing to admit these breads are better than anything we've ever made at home. Order her cinnamon raisin challah or her braided everything challah, and you'll see what we mean. Go ahead and get a second loaf while you're at it. Otherwise there just might not be enough leftover for bread pudding or French toast in the morning.