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Challah Buns

“What fills the eye, fills the heart.” -Celtic proverb

Challah bread. You know the one, the long loaf that has these knots going down its spine. These little guys are the Challah bread’s cousins and they hold up the family name. The shape is sort of like a Celtic knot, with a swirl of filling in the middle. Shaping the dough can be fun to do with family or children, and as it is with any bun, is just as delicious.

Making the dough is straightforward, combining all the ingredients until a dough forms. When putting the yeast in with the hot water, be sure that the water is no more than 110 degrees F. If the water is too hot it will kill the yeast, not hot enough and the yeast will not be able to activate. Look for a foam to form in the bowl as the yeast and water set, this is a good sign that the yeast is happy and active. Also, be warned that this dough is sticky, so don’t play around with it too much and be sure to coat the dough with olive oil when letting it prove.

Shaping the dough is a lot of fun. It is best, I found to make an assembly line out of it so that each step has a stage if you have the counter space. You should begin by flattening all of your dough to the appropriate size rectangle.

Then place the filling on the dough and roll it up like a jelly-roll cake, so that it looks like a fat worm. After that, the dough “worm” needs to be stretched and rolled out to be 14in long.

Next, cut your worm in half and then each half should be cut in half again but length-wise. This step is the fun part: create a hashtag pattern with your dough strands (filling facing up) going in an over-under pattern.

Then you take one strand and cross it over to the strand next to it. Repeat this circle around the bun until all you have left are the ends to tuck underneath.

Viola! A little challah bun ready to be proved for a second time. Be sure these buns have room on a baking sheet and spread them across to separate sheets. Look at some of the visual representations as a guide when shaping your buns.

These jam-filled bread buns are a nice dessert but can also be enjoyed just as much in the morning for a breakfast treat. I hope you will enjoy making these as much as I have and maybe inspire some of you to take on a traditional challah loaf. Remember when life gets difficult it is always good to keep an inner smile and, of course, keep baking.

Recipe inspired by Bake from Scratch by Brian Hart Hoffman

Ingredients for Dough

112 grams (½, ¼, and ⅛ cups) of warm water (105-110 degrees F)

1 Tablespoons sugar

½ Tablespoon of yeast

56 grams (¼ cup) olive oil

3 large eggs

85 grams (¼ cup) honey

1 teaspoon salt

512-640 grams (4-5 cups) flour

Ingredients for Orange-Apricot Marmalade and Ginger Filling

Orange apricot marmalade, one jar

2 Tablespoons of ginger paste

2 teaspoons ground ginger

½ teaspoon nutmeg

¼ teaspoon allspice


  1. Start by making the dough: In a large bowl combine the water, sugar, and yeast, do not stir the ingredients. Let it stand until the mixture is foamy, about 10 minutes (Note: be sure the water temperature is not warmer than 110 degrees. If it is too hot the yeast could be killed).

  2. In a stand mixer with a dough hook, mix the ingredients and then add in the oil. Add in the eggs, one at a time, then beat in honey and salt.

  3. Gradually add the flour until the dough forms into clumps and it pulls away from the sides of the dough. Increase the speed of the mixer and mix for about 3- 5 minutes more.

  4. Shape the dough into a ball, and then coat a large bowl with olive oil, and set the dough into the bowl. Turn the dough so it gets a coating of oil on the top and bottom of the bowl. Cover the dough and let it rise until it's doubled in size, about 1 to 1:30 hours.

  5. While the dough is proving, start making the filling: take the jam out of the jar and put it into a medium saucepan. Heat up the jam and stir occasionally for 3-5 minutes. After the jam is warmed, add in the ginger paste, ground ginger, and allspice. Stir until well combined and then remove from the heat. Let the mixture cool before adding it to the dough.

  6. After the bread has proved begin to shape the rolls:

    1. Divide the dough into 10 equal pieces

    2. Roll the pieces into 6 x 2 ½ in” rectangle

    3. Place the filling onto the dough, and roll, starting at one long side, and press the edge to seal/

    4. Roll the dough into a rope, about 14 in” long

    5. Cut the rope in half crosswise, and then cut each piece in half lengthwise

    6. Place the four strands to form a hashtag, cut sides facing up

    7. Take one piece, and cross it over to an adjacent piece. Cross the next strand over an adjacent piece in the opposite direction and repeat.

    8. Tuck the ends under and place on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. (Note: you should use two baking sheets, five on each, and spread out the buns so they do not touch)

  7. Allow to prove a second time for 45-60 minutes, cover loosely with a cloth

  8. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and brush buns with a beaten egg

  9. Bake until golden brown, 15-25 minutes. Allow the buns to cool before serving.

  10. If you would like a glaze on the top: combine 1 cup of powdered sugar and ¼ cup of milk. Stir until smooth.

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