Round challah (airy, eggy, braided bread) is served on Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year, to symbolize the cycle of life. I baked round challah for the first time last year, but neglected to do any research on the proper way to braid the challah. I had assumed that to braid round challah, I would take three strands, braid them (like I would my hair), and then coil them around each other. It worked, but the challah wasn’t all that pretty. This year, I learned the proper technique for braiding round challah. I also had an inspired thought: “Rosh Hashana challah is round and cupcakes are round – hey, why not make challah cupcakes?”
My challah cupcakes make a special addition to the High Holiday table, but they could also be served on Shabbat any week of the year or any time that you want delicious bread.
How to Make and Braid Round Challah
I got this challah recipe from a family friend, Marsha. Marsha makes some of the best challah I’ve ever had so when I wanted to make some myself, I knew I would have to use her recipe.
Round Challah for Rosh Hashana
- 1 1/4 cups warm water
- 2 tablespoons active dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup canola oil or vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 4-5 cups all-purpose flour
- Large handful raisins optional
Mix all ingredients (except raisins) together.
Knead until you've got a smooth sticky ball of dough.
Let rise for one hour (or until doubled in size) in a covered bowl in a warm place.
Decide what you are baking. If you are making challah cupcakes, each cupcake uses 1 1/2 ounces of dough. For two loaves, divide the batter in half (either all of it or whatever is leftover after making your cupcakes). For one big loaf, use all of the batter.
Braid the dough (see braiding instructions below).
Transfer braided dough to a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper or a silpat or to cupcake liners.
Cover and let rise for another hour.
Bake at 350 F for twenty minutes, until golden brown.
Recipe NotesSee rest of post for braiding and Challah Cupcake suggestions
How to Braid Round Challah
I learned this braiding technique from Chabad and only altered it slightly. The step-by-step below shows the braiding process for a medium or large round challah. I’ll talk about the challah cupcakes further down in the post.
- Divide the dough into four pieces.
- If desired, press raisins into each piece.
- Roll the pieces between your hands to make little snakes of dough.
- Lay the dough out in a tic-tac-toe board shape. One horizontal snake should be weaved over and then under the vertical pieces and the other should be weaved under and then over the vertical pieces.
- On each side of the tic-tac-toe board, you’ll now have one piece of dough that is an under piece and one that is an over piece. Grab the piece that is under and cross it on top of the over piece.
- Repeat the same process, only now you’ll cross the dough in the opposite direction.
- Repeat one last time in the original direction.
- End it all by doing one final cross of each piece in the second direction. This time as you cross, press the dough into the center, sealing it closed.
- Flip the circle upside-down onto parchment paper on a baking sheet or a silpat.
For challah cupcakes, use the same braiding technique as shown above. However, everything is so much smaller so it’s a little harder to work with. You’ll only be able to get two cross-overs done before you run out of dough to work with.
Happy New Year
Happy New Year to all who celebrate! May it be a sweet one filled with joy, love, fabulous friends, and great health!
Here’s one image that shows it all (for all of you Pinners):