In the previous class we learned about situations where bread loses its bracha of Hamotzee. In today's class, we'll learn about foods that require a bracha when eaten during a bread meal.

Hamotzee Covers All Foods in Meal

At this point let's introduce two new Hebrew terms, that we'll encounter frequently as we proceed through this course:

  • ikar – primary food
  • tafel – secondary food

Bread is considered the staple food of every meal. One might say that any food eaten in a bread meal – meat, pasta, salad – is being eaten "with the bread." Other foods are secondary to the bread, which is the main part of the meal. In other words, bread is the ikar, and the meat, etc. is the tafel.

This means that when other foods are eaten in the same meal as bread, there is generally only one bracha recited: Hamotzee.1 The bracha on bread (the ikar) "covers" the other foods (the tafel) eaten in that meal.

Minimum Amount

There is one caveat, however. For bread to cover the other foods, the bread must be consumed in what is a halachic "act of eating." This is defined as consuming at least a kezayit of bread, within four minutes or less.2 (As we learned in the last class, a kezayit is about the size of half a middle piece of rye bread – 30 cc or one liquid ounce.) It is preferable to eat this amount of bread at the beginning of the meal.3

In the event that you eat less than a kezayit of bread, your Hamotzee over the bread does not cover any other foods that you wish to now eat. The best way to handle this is to first say the relevant brachot on the other foods, and then say Hamotzee on your "less-than-kezayit" amount of bread.4

Foods Not Covered by Hamotzee

The reason why Hamotzee covers other foods is because, just like the bread, the entire meal is being eaten for sustenance. This includes main dishes (meat, fish) as well as side dishes (rice, cooked vegetables, casseroles).

However, desserts and sweets – which are eaten simply for their good taste, not for nourishment and satiation – are not covered by Hamotzee. These foods require a separate bracha even when eaten in the course of a meal.5 So if you want to pop a candy in your mouth between the entr?e and the main course, you should say Shehakol.

Cakes During a Meal

To summarize so far: All satiating foods in a meal are covered by the Hamotzee said on the bread, but snack foods require their own bracha. It should follow, therefore, that whenever you eat cake during a meal for satiation, no bracha is required, whereas if the cake is being eaten as a dessert or for a good taste, a bracha (Mezonot) is in order.

However, it's not so simple. In determining if a baked good is considered "hamotzee" or "mezonot," we listed three characteristics that can define it as "mezonot":

  1. made from sweet dough (e.g. cake)
  2. contains a filling (e.g. pie)
  3. has a thin and crisp consistency (e.g. crackers)

The only way to be sure that a baked good is not bread is if it satisfies all three of these conditions. A pastry that fulfills only one or two of the conditions is subject to dispute – it may be bread or it may be cake.6

Therefore, you can only say the bracha Mezonot during a bread meal on a baked good that you are absolutely sure is not bread.7 So in practice, the question only gets started if a baked grain food fulfills all three characteristics of Pat Haba B'Kisnin – i.e. it is sweet dough, filled, and thin/crispy. We'll call this the "triple-Pat Haba B'Kisnin," and examples include:

  • wafers
  • cherry pie whose crust is very thin and flaky
  • blintzes made of a very thin dough wrapping

On any other Pat Haba B'Kisnin eaten for dessert, you should not say a bracha.8 It is recommended, however, that when saying Hamotzee on the bread in the beginning of the meal to have in mind to cover the cake as well.9

Cake Eaten to Satiate

A second consideration when determining if to say a bracha on baked goods during a bread meal, is whether you are eating the pastries as a dessert. When eating any baked goods as a nourishing part of the meal, no bracha is recited.10

Furthermore, even a "triple-Pat Haba B'Kisnin" eaten for dessert is sometimes exempt from a bracha. If you are still hungry and you are eating it to satiate as well, then it is considered as part of the meal and is covered by the Hamotzee said on the bread.11 For this reason, in practice many people do not say a bracha on any cake eaten for dessert.

To summarize: During a bread meal, the only time you would say a bracha on Mezonot is if all three of the following conditions are met:

  1. The food meets all three conditions of Pat Haba B'Kisnin.
  2. It is eaten for dessert.
  3. You are not hungry; i.e. you are not eating the food to satiate as well.

This concludes class #13 on Hilchot Brachot. In the next lesson, we'll learn about fruit that requires a bracha during a bread meal.


  1. Orach Chaim 177:1
  2. Shu”t Igros Moshe (OC 4:41). The halachic term for “four minutes or less” is Kiday Achilat Pras.
  3. Mishnah Berurah 167:35
  4. Shu”t Igros Moshe (OC 4:41). When eating less than a k’beitza of bread (the size of two kezayit measures), you should wash your hands, but without saying the blessing Netilat Yadayim; then say Hamotzee (Orach Chaim 158:2).
  5. Orach Chaim 177:1, with Mishnah Berurah 4
  6. Orach Chaim 168:8, with Mishnah Berurah 23; V'Zot HaBracha (Birur Halacha 3)
  7. Biur Halacha 168:8. There is a principle in halacha that when in doubt whether a bracha is necessary or not, you cannot say a bracha "just in case" – because of the risk of bracha levatala – an unnecessary bracha that involves needlessly pronouncing the Name of God (details in class #23). Rather, you may keep on eating without a bracha. This is called Safek Bracha L’hakel – literally, when in doubt regarding a bracha, the rule is to be lenient (and not say an additional bracha). The authorities apply this rule to the situation we are now dealing with. Since it is uncertain whether or not the disputed baked goods require a bracha, you should not say a bracha when eating them in a bread meal. (Dagel M’Revava – OC 168:8)
  8. It is acceptable to say Mezonot on any filled pastry, since the consensus of most authorities is that any filled pastry is considered cake (Biur Halacha 168:8).
  9. Biur Halacha 168:8, citing Chayei Adam 43:9. This works because there is a rule that while the bracha Hamotzee cannot generally be used in place of Mezonot, in a case where it was mistakenly said, post facto it is valid. Apparently Chayei Adam is following his opinion (Chayei Adam 58:2) that Hamotzee helps post facto for Pat Haba B’Kisnin. However, Elya Raba (168:20) and Shu”t Igros Moshe (OC 2:54) disagree, maintaining that Hamotzee does not help for Pat Haba B’Kisnin, even post facto. (For Maaseh K’deira, all agree that Hamotzee would not help.) Nevertheless, in our case, the original Hamotzee would help, because of the dissenting opinions who consider the Pat Haba B’Kisnin (with only one or two characteristics) as proper bread; according to them, one may not say Mezonot. According to the other two opinions of the definition of Pat Haba B’Kisnin, it would be best to ask someone who did not wash for bread to say Mezonot and have you in mind. Alternatively, you should eat the cake as part of the meal (see Mishnah Berurah 168:41).
  10. Mishnah Berurah 168:41
  11. Halachos of Brochos, ch. 5, footnote 35, and Addendum 2 in the name of Rabbi C.P. Scheinberg