Challah done two ways from the same dough (Jewish New Year’s loaf AND a braided challah)


It’s Jewish New Year (tonight) and the traditional loaf, a round, turban-shaped one (round=continuity of life) took a back seat in this photo– so I decided to do a challah extravaganza and go through both shapes, which are easy once you see how they’re done.  Here’s the turban from a little closer:


They’re both made from the same dough but the New Year’s  turban always has raisins or other sweet fruit (to symbolize a sweet new year)– we’ll roll them into the dough so you don’t have to mix up a special one. First, roll out some pre-mixed challah dough from page 296 of the book (purchase by clicking here).  You can even make it with brioche dough if you’re looking for something richer, but the less rich dough is more traditional.  Roll a grapefruit-sized piece of dough as in Zoe’s post on raisin bread, sprinkle a handful of raisins, roll it back up, and and you’ll get something that looks like this:


Thin out one end by rolling and stretching at the end that’s going to be thinned:


Starting with thick end in the middle, wind the thinner end around it and finally, tuck it underneath to seal:


Put the loaf on a cookie sheet prepared with shortening or parchment paper, or my favorite these days, a silicone pad, which can go straight into the oven with or without the support of a cookie sheet.  Brush the loaf with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds:

Allow the loaf to rest for an hour and 20 minutes, then bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for about 30 minutes, until nicely browned (larger loaves will take more time).  Here’s the finished turban-shaped loaf again, ready for eating with apples and honey for a sweet new year:


But if you want to make the traditional braided challah (without raisins), here’s how to do it:  First form a grapefruit-sized ball and cut it into thirds with a knife or dough scraper.



Gently roll and stretch each piece, dusting with flour so your hands don’t stick to it, until it’s about an inch thick.  You may need to walk away and let the dough relax for five minutes so it won’t resist your efforts.  When you’re done, lay them straight on a lightly floured work surface:


The key to a beatiful braid is to start from the middle, not from one of the ends.  Pull the strand farthest from you over the middle strand and lay it in the middle– that’s never changes, you’re always pulling outside strands into the middle, and you never move the middle strand:


Now pull the closer strand over to the middle:


Keep going, alternating outer strands but always pulling it into the middle:


When you get to the end, pinch the strands together:


Now (and this is the fun part), flip it over so the loose strands fan away from you:


Start braiding again by pulling an outside strand to the middle, but this time start with the strand closer to you:


Don’t worry if things look a little mis-shapen, you can nudge it back into shape at the end.  Braid to the end again, and pinch together, lay it on a cookie sheet prepared with shortening, parchment, or a silicone pad, and paint it with egg wash:


Using my fingers, I’ve gently nudged the loaf into a more symmetrical shape before painting the egg wash:


Now sprinkle with poppy seeds:


Allow the loaf to rest for an hour and 20 minutes, then bake for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C), and the colors create a beautiful contrast:


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153 thoughts on “Challah done two ways from the same dough (Jewish New Year’s loaf AND a braided challah)

  1. Can anyone tell me what size container I need to get to store 5 lb of flour? I’ve always stored it in a glass jug, but I can’t get a measure in it, so I’d like to buy some new containers to store it now.

    Also, my book came and I’m trying some of the recipes! Smells good here now!

  2. Hi Pat,

    I use glass jars that hold about a gallon of water. I hope that answers your question!

    Thanks and enjoy the bread.


  3. Hi Jeff and Zoe,

    I so appreciate your answering my questions!!!

    I took my first challahs out of the oven last night. they didn’t rise much. The dough was dry. I think I didn’t add enough water, using KA flour.

    It’s almost 5 days since I made the dough, and I the remaining dough portions in the freezer for next time.

    1. Could I have added more water when I took the dough out of the refrigerator to shape? I could feel that the dough was dry.

    2. Can I add more water to the dough when I take the remaining packets out of the freezer to shape next time?

    3. I am new to using a stone. I didn’t grease the stone when I used it with the challahs, should have? The bottom stuck. I saw the directions later and Pampered Chef instructions said to grease the stone the first few times. This is my second time using it. I tried baking some boule right after, to take advantage of the hot oven (after heating it up), so I was concerned about greasing the stone. I used parchment paper on the boule. Is it ok to grease the stone for the challah and then cook the boule on it right after?

    4. Last question (I hope) 🙂 I tasted the challah’s bottom that fell off. It isn’t sweet enough for me. My former recipe was to double the amount of sugar in the Fleischman’s bread machine recipe. Can I go up to 2/3 cup honey? If so, are there any other adjustments?

    While we are talking about honey, I heard that a honey bee works its whole life to make one tsp. of honey. So my salute to the honeybee!

    Oh, I think the stone and broiler pan absorb some of the oven’s heat. I took out the broiler pan when I noticed the challah wasn’t cooking well and the oven temp went up. I had figured that I’d leave it there while the challah baked to warm up for the boule next. Not a good idea.

    Thanks for answering my questions. I love it when my husband oohs and ahhs over my challahs!


  4. It’s probably risky to add water at that point. Might have deflated the dough mass, with no additional “food” for the yeast to regenerate the bubbles.

    Wow, I’d never grease a stone— all that grease will smoke, smoke, smoke till it burns off. Eventually the stone will “season” and become kind of non-stick. I like your parchment idea better.

    I don’t think you’ll have to change anything after increaseing the honey, but you might (might) have to increase the flour slightly. very slightly.

    The stone absorbs heat (slows the pre-heat) but I’m surprised you found that with the broiler pan.

  5. THANKS, Jeff! I’ll try a future batch with 2/3 cup honey. Because I use King Arthur Flour, I may not have to use much more of anything. I’ll have to check the dough consistency.

    I have some gluten, I’m wondering if I could add some to the challah recipe or deli rye to get a higher rise. Or if that would cause problems of overrising in the fridge.

  6. Judy: With VWG, it’s not so much a matter of over-rising, it’s more a question of throwing off the water balance. If you use VWG in the challah, be sure to increase the water so that the consistency stays the same.

  7. Hi,

    In reading the posts, I see that TiV asked about switching the honey to regular sugar. I was wondering how it came out. Sugar is much less expensive than honey. THANKS

  8. You can swap honey for sugar in a 1:1 volume switch, the slight water change won’t make much difference. Flavor won’t be quite the same though.

  9. I am about to make my first Challah dough (l.5 recipe).

    In the book you say to do the egg wash and seeds 20 min. prior to baking.

    In your online version, you say to egg wash and seed prior to resting.

    Which one is correct and does it matter?

    In the book you say that melted butter makes a stiffer dough and using oil causes the dough to spread sideways while resting. Online here (I forget exactly where I read it), you say that by using melted butter, the dough may not stretch and breaks off – again, which is correct?????


  10. Prior to baking is what we’d intended, but it won’t make a lot of difference. Sorry for the confusion.

    2nd question: both statements are correct! Melted butter-dough is stiffer WHEN COLD and tends to appear “fragile” when pulling it out of the cold bucket. Once they both warm up, they behave differently too— the butter tends to hold its shape better, the oil to spread sideways– mainly a cosmetic difference.

  11. Easter is coming up, I love the look of the braided bread with the colored hard boiled eggs in it…
    Is this the dough for that, or should something else be used? Do you have any pointers?

  12. Lynn: These kinds of recipes usually call for an enriched dough, so Challah or Brioche are perfect, depending on how rich you want.

  13. Hi Zoe and Jeff,

    I totally love your book. I have been baking bread for many years the old fashioned way and can’t believe how great all your recipes come out. My husband said the bialy’s are the best he has ever had. (he’s from Brooklyn and Manhattan).

    My question is about the Challah. I made your recipe and it’s great. However, I have been making a recipe for the Jewish New Year which has about the same amount of flour and 3 egg yolks and 3 eggs instead of the 4 in your recipe. It also has 1/3 cup honey and 1/3 cup sugar instead of your 1/2 honey.

    Do you think that my recipe ingredients will work with your recipe technique?. I like your recipe for everyday and mine for “the sweet New Year”.

    Thanks for your time.
    Linda Berman

  14. Hi Linda,

    your recipes sounds sweet and wonderful. It is certainly worth a try! I’d probably add a couple more tablespoons of water or the dough may be too dry.

    let us know how it goes!


  15. Hi there,

    I just made the challah recipe this morning for Easter. It tastes great! But my version looks funny. You can see a pic at the linked website (or here You can see that it kind of exploded in the middle while baking. Do you know why this might have happened? Did I let it rise for too long? Or did I braid it too tightly? Or do I need to make a longer, skinnier version? I still have a ball of dough in the freezer, so when I make the second loaf in a few weeks, I’d like to fix the explosion if possible :).

    Thanks again for the great book and the great website!


  16. Hi Marie,

    The other times that I have seen this happen has been the result of not letting it rest long enough. How long did your braid rest before you put it in the oven?

    Thanks, Zoë

  17. I just tried the challah recipe using butter – I was hoping for a homemade challah result, but got something like a bakery challah.

    By this I mean that I was hoping to get a slightly stringy, slightly chewy texture as opposed to a texture similar to regular white bread. Does the recipe produce the stringier “Bubbe” style challah, or did I get the expected result? Is there a way to get a result with more texture?

  18. Hi Mhays,

    The only way to get that stretchy texture with an enriched recipe is to knead the dough. You can put the whole thing in a stand mixer and knead it for several minutes and it will produce a texture closer to Bubbe’s. It is the butter in the dough that causes the gluten to break down.

    Thanks, Zoë

  19. I am having problems with my challah sticking to the stone… i have tried coating the stone in flour (it stuck) cooking the challah on greased or floured baking paper on the stone (the paper stuck to the challah AND the base didn’t get crispy).

    Would love any suggestions on fixing this…. otherwise the recipe is great!!

  20. Hi Jeff and Zoe,

    I have been learning more about hydration and baker’s percentage since Jeff’s great explanation. Wow, this is a great way to scale recipes!

    But, I don’t know how to scale enriched dough recipes like challah. Do ingredients like oil, honey, and egg count as liquid? I’m not sure about honey, because it’s interchangeable with sugar. I want to learn more about this, increase my baking knowledge and so work with scaling your recipes to different yields.

    Also, I notice on this page that it says to do the egg wash and seeds on top before the long rise.

    I’ve been doing that after the rise, because I have been afraid of leaving uncooked egg on it for that long.

    But when I do it after the rise, I’m sometimes deflating the dough–especially if I have overproofed the loaf.

    Which way should I be doing it?

    I would love your comments on both questions.

    Thanks so much,

    Judy L, TN

    1. Hi Judy,

      Baking percentages are a great way to bake, but it does take a bit of getting used to. When calculating the percentage the flour (or combination of flours) are 100%. Everything else is on its own. So in other words the eggs are a percentage and the water is another. You don’t combine them as the “liquids” they are all calculated on their own. This is one reason we don’t use baking percentages in the book, it can be rather confusing and intimidating for home bakers who are not used to thinking of recipes in this way. But, I encourage you to read more about it and have fun baking with percentages. I know that King Arthur used to have a page on their website dedicated to the subject, but I’m not sure if that is still available?

      I’m not sure where you are seeing to egg wash before the long rise? What page are you looking at? On page 182, step 8, says to add the egg wash and seeds, this is after the rise. You are right, it definitely goes on after the rise.

      Thanks Judy! Zoë

  21. Hi Zoe,

    Thanks so much for your info. Ok, then, honey and oil are considered “not water,” and I would compare them to the total amount of flour on their own.

    The place where I saw to put the egg wash on first, at higher up on this page:
    “Using my fingers, I’ve gently nudged the loaf into a more symmetrical shape before painting the egg wash:
    Now sprinkle with poppy seeds:
    Allow the loaf to rest for an hour and 20 minutes, then bake for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C), and the colors create a beautiful contrast:”

    I can’t find anything on the King Arthur website for baker’s percentage. I also checked the baking community postings when I did a search.

    I found plenty of explanations of lean dough, but nothing about additional ingredients. And all the postings on the blogs are really old, so I don’t know if the contact info of those blogs are current.

    You guys sure ignited a spark in me to learn more about culinary skills! I’m also ordering the book, “Ratio.” I wish I could go to culinary school! I spend hours on the computer, educating myself and watching demos on YouTube! You guys ROCK!!!

    Judy L, TN

    1. Hi Judy,

      I’ll let Jeff answer as to why he painted on the egg wash first in this case?

      I’ll look through my baking books and try to recommend some good reading material about baking percentages. It is wonderful that you are wanting to get more in depth information.

      Thanks! Zoë

    2. Judy: In the book, we have you painting with egg wash and sprinkling seeds AFTER the rest… I misspoke here on the blog. Fact is that it doesn’t much matter. Some books have you doing two egg washes, about 30 minutes apart during the resting time. That second coating, right onto the dried egg, gives you a shinier result. Sprinkle seeds after the second coating (right before it goes into the oven). Jeff

  22. Thanks, Jeff and Zoe!

    I think it’s wonderful that you are so patient and don’t mind teaching!

    I don’t know where this passion for baking will take me, but it’s in a totally different direction. I’m willing to see where it goes. I heard a quote on “Writer’s Almanac (NPR) the other day, from the book, “The Alchemist.” It’s “To realize one’s destiny is a person’s only obligation.”

    Be well, Judy

  23. Hi Zoe,

    How about this unexpected site for explanation of baker’s percentage for liquid ingredients:


    Also, I am trying to figure out how much “shrinkage” challah dough will have. I weigh out my dough to be one pound. I’ve never weighed the final product. I’m making one for the shul receptionist, and I’d like to give her a one-pound beautiful challah. She’s been very helpful.

    Does challah lose much weigh/moisture in the baking process?

    Congrats on the courage to cut your hair! Very cute. I guess your next book picture will be sans glasses AND long hair. 🙂



    1. Hi Judy,

      I skimmed over the link and it does look like good information.

      The dough will not lose much of its weight when baked, maybe an ounce or two.

      Thank you for the kind words about my new hair. I’m finally getting used to it and think I like the new me! 🙂

      Thanks, Zoë

  24. Hi Jeff, and Zoe,
    It’s challah baking time again for me! I did a few this morning, and have a question about the rising of the dough the first time. I guess this question is for all your doughs.

    Why can’t I just put the dough bucket in the fridge overnight? Why does it need to rise on the counter first? Won’t a “cool rise” work? Sometimes, I’ll mix the dough in the evening to use the next day. As days get shorter, it would be nice to throw the dough into the fridge ASAP.

    Also, if I shape a challah, do I need to let it rise on the countertop first, if put it in the oven overnight?

    Thanks so much! Have a wonderful holiday and a healthy year.


    1. Hi Judy,

      You can do a cold rise for the first rise in the bucket. We don’t talk to this in the book, because many people want to bake as soon as that initial 2 hour rise is done. You just need to make sure that you are allowing a long enough rest, which will depend on the chill in your refrigerator.

      I have never done an overnight rise in the oven. I will have to try it, but I’d fear that it will over proof. Are you also doing this with doughs with egg in them? Not sure that is safe with raw egg? Hmmm? I need to look into this.

      Thanks for provoking thought again! 🙂


  25. oops, I should have said, why can’t I put the dough bucket into the fridge immediately, instead of having it rise on the counter for a few hours first.


  26. Hi Zoe and Jeff,

    Glad that you think my questions are thought provoking! You aren’t giving up on me! 🙂

    No, I don’t want to do an overnight rise in the oven. I just want to do challah dough overnight 1st rise in the fridge. I’ll yest it out, but maybe in a month, after this furious baking time. Wish you had a shortcut for honeycake! 🙂

    I do have a question about the dough I just baked. I froze one pound of challah dough–looks like a month ago. I just took it out this morning and shaped it into a braid. It didn’t rise much. It even looked puffy, so I think it rose all it could! I wouldn’t have known this before. In the future, I won’t depend on frozen dough to rise that well. How can I add yeast to the defrosted dough to give it some OOMPH!

    ThanKs, Judy L, TN

    1. Hi Judy,

      Love honeycake, if I come up with a shortcut I’ll be sure to share it with you! 😉

      I’ve never married two batches of the enriched doughs, which is typically what I would do to a lean dough (no-dairy or eggs) to add more yeast. You can try adding a bit of a yeast, flour, water slurry, but just know that it is an experiment and may mean you have to throw out that last little bit?

      Have fun playing with all the dough! Zoë

  27. I made your challah recipe and it’s fantastic. I would like to double, or really even triple the recipe (using approximately a 5 lb. bag of flour). Would everything get doubled and tripled evenly? Even the yeast?

    1. Hi Michele,

      Yes, as we say in the book, all of our recipes are easily doubled or halved. You can also triple the recipe as long as you have a bucket large enough!

      Thanks and enjoy all the challah! Zoë

  28. I have a friend who would like to make this challah dough but would like to substitute non-dairy
    margarine or oil for the butter. How would that work out? I am also interested for the Parve factor. She has someone with a milk allergy in her family.
    Thank you so much in advance for your help!

  29. Just replying to Linda – I always use parve margarine and it comes out fantastic.
    Another question – when I put the dough in the fridge, the top of the dough gets a hard crust on it. Any way to avoid that?

  30. Linda: The recipe in the book calls for either oil or butter; margarine works too.

    Michele: To avoid the hard crust, you can seal the plastic container after the first two days of fermentation– there usually isn’t enough gas production after that to pop the lid. Or, transfer to smaller containers as you use it up– less air space and exposure. Jeff

  31. Hi,
    Replying to Linda, also. I always bake my challah with parve Fleischman’s unsalted margarine. I melt it, and it works great!


  32. Love your olive oil dough and challah! I make a full batch of each quite often. Is there something special I need to do after freezing challah dough to get a better rise?

    1. Marsha: You do lose a little rise with each freezing episode, so freeze in portion-sized bags or containers, that way you’re not freezing, defrosting, and re-freezing. And don’t shortchange the resting time when using defrosted dough. Defrost in the fridge overnight, not on the counter. Jeff

  33. I made two challahs from one batch of dough for Rosh Hashana. A raisin challah which came out just perfect. A beautiful dark brown crust which tasted exactly like a bakery challah. It kept it beautiful turban shape. A great success. I also applied a egg wash three times, I let it dry on the dough the first two times, and then brushed on the egg wash right before placing it in the oven. The crust was really lovely. I also made a
    plain one…it did not keep its turban shape and had a very distinct “yeasty” flavor, which was not pleasant. I have no idea what happened. I did bake the plain challah first and the raisin second, leaving the raisin challah to rise longer…I am stumped. Both loaves tasted and looked completely different. Any thoughts?

    1. I think you’re preferring the longer rise, there’s no other likely explanation. Can’t imagine it’s the raisins. Some people find the challah not quite to their liking with short rests, so go with the longer one. Jeff

  34. I made cinnamon rolls with the rest of that batch of dough yesterday, the dough was 5 days old. They were perfect…
    I think the yeasty, almost fermented, flavor of the plain challah will remain a mystery…the only other thing I can think of is I may have over handled the dough.
    I formed the turban and did not like it and did it over again…other than that. I am stumped.
    Thanks for your help though!

    1. Hi Linda,

      Despite making these doughs over and over and over again, once in a while I have some that taste very different. It may just be that one batch that you experience that yeasty flavor? I’ll be interested to know, keep in touch!

      Enjoy, Zoë

  35. I will Zoe…thanks…it remain s a mystery to me. The raisin challah was so good. and so were the cinnamon rolls…
    The plain…what can I say??? Yeasty beyond belief..
    I will let you know. I used SAF yeast and Heckers all purpose flour…other than that all was the same!
    Thanks for your help!
    L’Shana Tova!

    1. Hi Linda,

      It will remain a mystery? I’m assuming that it was just that batch, however if it should happen again let us know and we’ll explore other options!

      Thanks! Zoë

  36. Can I weigh in on the (old) egg wash discussion? I always use the egg wash twice. The first time is right after shaping my challah, and the second time is right before baking. Sprinkle seeds on, if any, after the SECOND egg wash.

    I find doing it twice makes sure that the areas where the oven spring occurs are covered, and gives my challahs a nice, even glaze. If you only glaze once right before baking, you get more of a two-toned effect. Some people like that, but I prefer the overall more uniform look.

    For eggwash I use the yolk and 1/2 an eggshell’s worth of water beaten together. There is usually plenty of eggwash for both rounds, but I pop the eggwash in the fridge between uses just for safety.

  37. I just wanted to chime in and say that I made a half batch of the challah dough and it was fine. I made cinnamon rolls yesterday with incredible results. The dough was easy to work with and the taste and texture were great. Today I’m using up the rest by making challah, and I’m waiting for it to rise now. The braiding was surprisingly easy and professional looking.

    I’d like to thank for you making this book. After several sad failed attempts at making bread in the past, I can now consistently make perfect baguettes, pizzas, focaccias, and more at home. It has really boosted my baking self-esteem.

    1. Hi Lindsay,

      Thank you so much for the wonderful note. It is so great to hear that you are baking with confidence and so often!

      Enjoy all the bread! Zoë

  38. I must tell you about the challah that I made recently. I used the regular recipe and was down to the last bit of dough. I decided to encase some brie with it. I had some left over, so I just made a little roll! Anyway, it was to die for! All of the recipes that I’d seen for baked brie used puff pastry. Well, this is way better – we just devoured it. Simply a must try!

    1. Cindy: You probably know that we have a number of cheesebreads in our books, but usually we grate the cheese and uniformly mix it into the dough. I like your variation because it gives you all these texture and flavor “boundaries” in the food. Great that it worked with the Challah dough– people have found that a pretty versatile base for getting creative. Jeff

  39. I’ve made several of your recipes, all with success. I love the taste of your challah bread, but wonder why mine cracked. I followed the directions but the braid cracked uniformily from one and to another at the top. Any idea what might have caused this?

    1. Hi Amanda,

      The most common reason is that the dough had not rested long enough before baking. Try giving it another 15+ minutes next time before baking.

      Thanks, Zoë

  40. Thanks, will give the breaded challah another try for a potluck this coming up weekend and will allow it to rest for longer.


    1. Hi Gretchen,,

      You can absolutely leave it out longer. If you are planning to refrigerate the dough over night before using, then it doesn’t matter if you let it rise fully on the counter first.

      Thanks, Zoë

  41. Please…..Help! I’m not new to book, have been baking various breads for about 1.5 yrs and we love it. But..

    When baking Challah with Raisins I like to make a double loaf turban Following all the directions in the book and using a parchment lined baking pan I place the dough in the well heated 350 degree oven and wait for 25 minutes.

    After 25 minutes the bread is far from done so I add an additional 20 minutes and I am wondering if there is a correction to the temp of the oven I have missed or what am I doing wrong?

    Any suggestions would be fantastic, I appreciate any input anyone has.

    1. Hi BikinBear,

      If you are doubling the size of the loaf then you need to increase the resting time by about 30+ minutes and increase the baking time by about 20 minutes. By allowing the dough to rest longer you will lighten up the loaf and it will not be as dense.

      Also you should check to make sure your oven is the right temperature with an oven thermometer. If the oven is not hot enough it will effect the baking time.

      I hope that helps! Zoë

  42. Hey! This is a great challah recipe. I found it on another blog, and it’s fantastic. I’ve never made good bread before (it always ends up hard as a rock coming out of the oven.

    I’ve tripled the recipe (because I’m feeding a lot of people), and I didn’t put all the flour in it that my calculations say should happen. The dough still ends up soft and delicate, but will a flour shortage cause problems?

    Also, has anyone ever tried to do Challah with whole wheat? Are there alterations to be made?

  43. Using a food processor to mix the dough, I find it difficult getting all the dough out of the bowl and off the dough blade if I take the dough out just as soon as the ingredients are mixed. Is there help?

    1. Pam: I generally go a few seconds longer, till it forms a ball. But you’re right, there’s still a lot of scraping of dough off the bowl and the dough attachment, I don’t think there’s anything to do about it. Jeff

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