Friday, February 18, 2011

Cinnamon Streusel Challah

I've been working on my old cinnamon brioche challah recipe and tinkering around with it for each of the last three shabboses. I've finally come up with a totally different product from the brioche; it's still cinnnamon, with a very nice challah-like consistency, but I think it has a nicer balance between the sweetness of cinnamon with the slight saltiness one expects in challah. This is truly a great challah for every week (if you have family members with a sweet tooth) or for a special occasion like the high holidays.

4 eggs (plus one beaten egg for later to brush on top)
1 3/4 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast (2 packets)
4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted margarine, melted (oil may also be used -- I recommend Mazola Corn Plus+)
7 cups all-purpose flour


4 tsp oil
8 tsp flour
8 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water by mixing gently and add a dollop of honey if you like (it helps the yeast rise faster). Beat the four eggs, and combine them with the other ingredients except for the flour. Mix in the flour without kneading in a stand mixer (fitted with the dough hook attachment). If you’re not using a machine, you may need to use wet hands to incorporate the last bit of flour.

Place dough in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap that you have sprayed with non-stick cooking spray (again, I recommend Mazola Corn Plus+). Allow the dough to rest at room temperature until it rises and collapses (or flattens on top), for approximately 2 hours. You can speed up this step by placing the bowl on a warm surface, or by the previously mentioned dollop of honey in the yeast water mixture.

You can now refrigerate the dough for up to five days, or bake it off. To bake, add flour to the surface of the dough and shape as usual. I cut off a baseball-sized piece to make two large-ish loaves and four small loaves. Take about half the dough if you are making two large loaves. It is initially quite sticky, so dust the piece with a little more flour if necessary and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides.

How to make the traditional challah shape: Divide a ball into thirds. Roll the balls between your hands, stretching, to form each into a long, thin snakelike rope. If the dough resists shaping, let it rest for a few minutes and try again as the gluten relaxed. Braid the ropes, and place either in a tin pan or on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Brush with a beaten egg and sprinkle with streusel.

Allow the bread to rest and rise on the pan for 1 hour and 20 minutes (or just 40 minutes if you’re using fresh, unrefrigerated dough).

Bake at 350 degrees near the center of the oven for about 25 minutes. Smaller or larger loaves will require different baking times watch closely. The challah is done when golden brown. Be sure to cool the loaves before moving them from the sheet pan.


  1. What is granulated yeast? Is it the same as dry yeast? If not, how much dry yeast should I use?
    Thanks, Michal