Baker Luisa Hagemeier started her business, Challahrado Hearth, as a way to share and spread Jewish food culture in Colorado. Having debuted in time for Rosh Hashanah 2021, her initial focus is on challah — a bread typically eaten during Jewish ceremonial occasions and holidays.
Currently taking orders via DM on her @challahradohearth Instagram account, Hagemeier is part of a larger trend in the US of home-based challah businesses exploding in popularity during the Covid-19 pandemic, but she shies away from the unconventional color and flavor combos that have catapulted some to notoriety.
She currently favors traditional toppings and flavors (sesame seeds, cinnamon and other spices, or dried fruit) and simple but elegant braids for her challah, although she admits that she may one day “cave” into incorporating chocolate chips.
Hagemeier’s personal connection with the bread runs deep, as it ties her back to her past: the very act of eating it reminds her “of eating challah every Friday night Shabbat with my family growing up,” she wrote in an email.
But even for those who don’t have a previous connection to challah, Hagemeier believes the bread feels special once you encounter it. On the merits of challah she writes, “It’s actually nourishing, it’s delicious, and it leaves a sweet taste in your mouth.”
This latest venture has been part of a life-long dream. Despite always wanting to be a baker, Hagemeier was groomed by her parents (both lawyers) to become a litigator from an early age — all other careers were unthinkable. It was a profession she practiced for 25 years in New York until her life fundamentally changed when her mother, a high-powered judge, passed away in 2016.
“It took about six months for my law practice actually to die,” described Hagemeier, “but the moment came when I could quit and do what I want.” So in 2017 she enrolled in the pastry and baking program at the Institute for Culinary Education in NYC and has been happily employed as a bread and cakes baker, pastry cook, and ice cream maker ever since.
Having moved from New York to Denver three years ago, Hagemeier believes the Colorado food scene could benefit from an increased exposure to the Jewish bakery repertoire. From rugelachs to plum tortes, there are countless numbers of treats that would be worth sharing, but for now Denverites will need to make due with their challah orders as she tests out interest in her initial product.
Interested in getting some challah goodness in your life? Challahrado Hearth is currently taking orders for Yom Kippur. Pre-order by DMing @challahradohearth. Plain or with Sesame or Poppy Seeds, $8. Cinnamon swirl or Apricot Raisin, $10. All challahs are round for the holidays.
Pickup is on 15 September at Under the Umbrella at 3507 East 12th Avenue in Congress Park.