Food Eyeswoon Kitchen:

Dough for Daniella

By: Jordana Mostel
Photography by Sarah Elliott

“Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for a while, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never, ever the same.” ― Flavia Weedn.

When I was 8 years old, I went to summer camp and met a perfectly petite little girl with long blonde hair, a massive smile and an infectious laugh; her name was Daniella. She left small footprints on my heart that became bigger and bigger as we grew up together. But her footprints weren’t just left on my heart, they were imprinted on infinite ones.

Just a few months ago, twenty one year old Daniella Moffson, was on her way to the airport after selflessly spending her vacation providing medical care in Honduras for poor neighborhoods, when her bus veered off the dirt road. On what had originally seemed like an ordinary Wednesday, the world lost an endlessly passionate and caring soul, and I lost one of my best and oldest friends.

Ever since I can remember, Daniella was always giving. Sprinkling kindness around like it was colorful confetti, wherever she went. From volunteering at charitable programs focused on helping children with disabilities like The Friendship Circle, to taking care of young cancer patients at Camp Simcha (“happiness” in Hebrew), to spending a gap year with me in Israel accompanying troubled foster children at AMIT; she never stopped leaving those beautiful footprints of hers on others.

With that same vibrant smile painted perfectly across her porcelain skin, she was constantly doing, doing, doing. Time seemed to slow down for Daniella. I always believed that she had more hours in the day than the rest of us. The most inspiring part of her, was that she did it quietly. Goodness for the sake of simply doing good, that’s all.

After losing Daniella and enduring such unbearable heartache, I was welcomed back to EyeSwoon with the warmest of hugs from Athena and a simple question: “What can we do to remember her?”

We decided to bake Challah in her honor. A Jewish tradition, Daniella loved to do – she even had her own recipe with little notes! I once learned something truly inspiring about baking Challah bread, which I believe captures the essence of my dear friend in every way. The word “Challah” is actually rooted from the Hebrew word “Chol” which means ordinary. This is often how we see every day life, as ordinary. The secret is to take something that is ordinary and make it extraordinary. That’s the point of baking Challah. At the surface it is just ordinary bread, but then it is carefully kneaded, beautifully braided, and baked with a blessing.

That was Daniella, she made everyday meaningful and memorable. She touched infinite lives, taking the ordinary and making it extraordinary.

This beautiful and heartfelt story is shared by my incredible assistant Jordana…. xx /athena

Dough for Daniella
Dough for Daniella
Dough for Daniella
Dough for Daniella
Dough for Daniella
Dough for Daniella
Dough for Daniella
Dough for Daniella
Dough for Daniella
Dough for Daniella
Dough for Daniella
Dough for Daniella
Dough for Daniella
Dough for Daniella

Challah Bread

Daniella Moffson


  • 2 ounce active dry yeast
  • 3 tablespoons of sugar
  • 6 cups of warm water
  • 4 tablespoons of kosher salt
  • 1 (5-pound) bag of high-gluten flour
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 1/4 cup canola oil, divided
  • 2 whole eggs, lightly beaten

Optional Crumb Topping:

  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 6 tablespoons of margarine
  • 1/4 cups of oil

The Prep

Daniella’s personal notes are in bold italics

  1. In a medium bowl, dissolve yeast and 3 tablespoons of sugar in 2 cups of warm water, cover loosely with a towel and set aside – Let it bubble and rise for about 10 minutes.
  2. Place salt in a huge bowl.
  3. Add flour to bowl.
  4. Add sugar and egg yolks – Beat the egg yolks before you add them in or your dough might be streaky with yolks.
  5. Yeast should now have bubbled/foamed and double in size, if yeast has not bubbled or does not seem active repeat the process again.
  6. Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and slowly pour yeast and sugar water mixture into the well. Then add the remaining 4 cups of warm water into the well. Make sure the water is not too hot. It should be no warmer than you would use for a baby’s bath.
  7. Start kneading ingredients together and add a 1/2 cup of oil.
  8. For the next 10 minutes, knead, adding another 1/2 cup of oil slowly during that time as needed to create workable dough. Dough shouldn’t be too sticky and also should not be dry. It should become one cohesive mass – Don’t be discouraged this will take some time, just keep working it. It’s a good arm workout 🙂 if you feel the dough isn’t coming together add up to 1/4 cup more oil.
  9. Loosely cover dough with a large kitchen towel and place in a warm spot in your kitchen for 15 minutes.
  10. After 15 minutes, lightly oil your hands and knead again for another 5 minutes adding a touch more of oil if necessary. The dough should now be easier to work with and will become smooth and satiny.
  11. Rub a little oil over the top and around the dough. Cover bowl with a kitchen towel. Place bowl in a medium plastic bag and place open ends of the bag loosely underneath the bowl, trapping in air.
  12. Place in a warm spot and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
  13. Punch dough down and knead (lightly oil your hands if necessary), flipping it and releasing any air bubbles. Cover again, using the towel and the bag, and let rise 1 more hour – Instead of one hour, let it rise over night in the garbage bag & by the morning your dough will be huge and fluffy.
  14. Lightly oil your hands, and punch down again. With a sharp knife divide dough into 4 equal parts.
  15. Liberally spray baking pans with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
  16. Preheat oven to 375F.
  17. Brush challahs with beaten eggs and sprinkle with a combination of poppy and sesame seeds Instead of seeds, sprinkle the tops with the sweet crumb mixture.
  18. Bake at 375 for 10 minutes and then lower your over temperature to 350F and bake for an additional 35 to 45 minutes, until challah tops are dark golden brown.

Optional Crumb Topping:

  1. Mix all ingredients together by hand.
  2. Do not over mix – your crumbs should have lumps in all different sizes.
  3. Sprinkle over dough after brushing dough with egg.
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