By: Rabbi Ari Enkin
There is a widespread misconception that one who is in the midst of a meal that includes bread is not required to recite a blessing on any other foods that are consumed in the course of the meal. As we will see, the Hamotzi blessing recited over bread at the beginning of a meal only exempts foods and their condiments eaten primarily in order to satisfy hunger. Other foods will often require their own blessing even when eaten during the meal.
For example, foods that are eaten following the main course of a meal, such as deserts, fruits, and sweets, will often require their own blessing. There is an interesting exception, however. If such foods are eaten together with bread they will not require their own blessing. So although fruit eaten as a dessert requires its own blessing one would not recite a blessing on the fruit if one eats the fruit with bread in every bite.
It is interesting to note that in order for the Hamotzi blessing to cover any other food, one must be sure to eat a “kezayit” of bread, slightly more than an ounce, immediately after reciting the Hamotzi blessing. One should not eat any other food until this first ounce of bread is eaten. If this is not done, the ability of the bread to exempt even the main foods of one’s meal from a blessing is questionable. One should never eat bread with the sole intention of exempting other food. So too, bread should not be used as a mechanism of exempting another food because one is unsure which blessing should be recited upon it.
As mentioned, bread will exempt all other food that is considered central to a meal. In fact, there is no requirement to eat bread together with such food. It is enough to have merely eaten a kezayit of bread at the beginning of one’s meal to exempt all other essential foods one will eat during that meal. Beverages are also exempt from a blessing. Indeed, common custom is not to recite a separate blessing even upon drinks like scotch, schnapps, coffee or tea even though such drinks are rarely essential components of one’s meal. Due to their distinct status, however, wine and grape juice are exceptions to this rule and a blessing must always be recited before drinking them in the course of a meal. One who made a blessing upon wine or grape juice immediately prior to the meal, such as in Kiddush, does not recite a blessing on wine that one drinks during the meal.
Fruit always requires its own blessing if eaten as a dessert. In the event that fruit is indeed one’s primary food at a given meal then a separate blessing is not required. If one is unsure whether a particular food requires a blessing when eaten during a meal, one should eat a little bit of that food before beginning one’s meal. The food can then be eaten during the meal without reciting a blessing upon it. Alternatively, one can eat that food together with bread, as mentioned above. A blessing is always required for candies, chocolates, ice cream and the like no matter when they are eaten during the course of a meal.
There is considerable debate over the need for a blessing over cakes, cookies, and other “mezonot” items eaten as a dessert and readers comments, customs, and rulings on this issue is especially welcomed. Common custom seems to be that one who is fully satiated from a meal and is only eating cake and cookies as a dessert or because one enjoys their taste, recites a blessing upon them. Authorities differ as to whether or not a blessing should be recited when one eats these items when not truly full from a meal.
 O.C. 177:1
 Mishna Berura 177:4
 Sha’ar Hatziun 177:13. See footnote 12.
 Mishna Berura 167:15,35, Be’er Heitev 167:9,
 Magen Avraham 177:1, Mishna Berura 177:3
 Mishna Berura 174:7
 Mishna Berura 174:39
 Misgeret Hashulchan to Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 43:7
 O.C. 174:1
 O.C. 177:3
 Mishna Berura 177:10
 In certain situations it is enough to eat bread at the beginning and end of the questionable dish. In other situations one would be required to eat bread with every bite. Ask your rabbi for more information.
 Mishna Berura 168:41