The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

A special Challah idea to bring in the new year

eruheru's picture

A special Challah idea to bring in the new year

Hello all,

As a new and enthusastic baker I volunteered to bake a Challah for my family's Rosh Hashannah gathering in a few weeks. Naturally, I decided to challenge myself to do something special. It is tradition to bake round Challah for the holiday (a symbol of the renewal of life, etc) which reminded me of my second attempt at bread baking: A Bulgarian Sunflower bread (  I've outline my recipe plan below, which I humbly ask the experienced bakers to consider and comment on. I'm hoping to come up with an idea beforehand so that I don't waste dough.

Sunflower Challah:

Prepare a doubled batch of Challah from "Secrets of a Jewish Baker"

Roll out dough to shape into a sunflower loaf (This is slightly different than the method I use: 

Brush the rolled out dough with a cinnamon sugar paste

Roll up and shape into the sunflower, sprinkle with sesame seeds and bake


What do you guys think? I will post specific recipes and procedures when I get home this evening.




dabrownman's picture

by Challah purists when I tote out my unconventional mutigrain with sprouts version that is unbraided yet round, so I see no reason why you shouldn't make an unconventional shaped sunflower that is round overall and very cool.  I would still put the butter on and then put the cinnamon sugar mix on that and then stack 3 of  them up to cut into wedges.  I would also stick the sesame seeds on with a milk, honey and egg, glaze to make sure they stay put and to get that deep dark mahogany color.

Go for it! ,,,And show us a picture!

clazar123's picture

That is a beautiful loaf! I am always looking for interesting and easy shapes. That one has so much potential. Please post pics of the loaf you make.

isand66's picture

That sunflower shape looks amazing.

I like the idea of adding the cinnamon paste and think it sound terrific.

Look forward to seeing your photos!

Good luck.

eruheru's picture

I'm happy to get such positive feedback! I would appreciate suggestions on the sugar/cinnamon ratio or how much to add. I've never baked with sweets like that. I don't want it to be overpowering, i.e. a sweeter tasting challah rather than a challah tasting cinnamon roll. 


Truth Serum's picture
Truth Serum

Thanks for the great ideas!

clazar123's picture

I mix just a little lemon juice with granulated sugar (start with 1/2 tsp lemon juice per 1/2 cup sugar) and mix it with a fork until the sugar is damp and crumbly looking. I use this to top sweet breads. It adds a refreshing tangy sweetness. Add some lemon peel to the bread, if you want to add lemon to the actual dough.

For cinnamon sugar, I am not sure of the proportions but probably 1 tsp cinnamon to a cup of sugar?? Sprinkle a little on your morning toast and see if it is spicy enough, If not-just add more cinnamon.

So many possibilities!


eruheru's picture

The bread came out really well, thank you for all the advice. Here are some pictures and procedures:


2 cups warm water

4 packages of active dry yeast

2 eggs, lightly beaten

4 egg yolks, lightly beaten

½ cup vegetable oil

½ cup + 3 Tbs sugar

8 to 9 cups Bread flour

4 tsp salt


1 beaten Egg with 1 Tbs water for wash

Lemon-Sugar Topping:

½ tsp lemon juice or lemon zest per ½ cup sugar

Cinnamon-Sugar filling:

1 ½ Tbs Cinnamon per ½ cup sugar




Let yeast in the water, ~5 min

Add 8 cups flour, egg, egg yolk, oil, sugar and salt

Stir until dough comes away from the side of the bowl

Knead, adding flour as necessary until smooth and elastic. Dough should push back when ready.

Rise in an oiled bowl until triple in volume. An indentation will remain in the dough when ready. ~60 min



Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces and let rest for 15 mins.

Center Piece:

Form 4 strands of dough as long as possible. Form into a woven shape. Instructions are in the page linked below, they do a better job explaining than I could:


Outer Pieces:

Roll the remaining dough portions into large circles.

Spread a light coating of oil and cinnamon-sugar over the circle

Roll into a tube

Cut into ~1.5-inch long pieces

Arrange the pieces around the center piece with cut ends facing upward


Coat the bread evenly with eggwash. Do not let wash pool in crevices.

Sprinkle with Lemon-sugar



I baked the bread using a large round pizza tray (it was the only tray that was big enough) with parchment paper.

Preheat oven to 350 F

Bake until a rich mahogany color, ~35 mins


Idea Sources:

Dough Recipe:

Greenstein, George. 2007. Secrets of a Jewish Baker: recipes for 125 breads. Ten Speed Press


Forristal, Linda Joyce. 1998. Bulgarian Rhapsody: The Best of Balkan Cuisine.Sunrise Pine Press.




 Four portions of Dough Ready for shaping




Middle piece is shaped and ready


 Another portion of dough is rolled out (I need practice making circles), brushed with oil and covered in cinnamon sugar.


 Roll it all up and cut the pices


 The final layout with the eggwash and lemon sugar sprinkled on top. Ignore the extra bit in the very front, that was not part of the bread. 

Fresh from the oven and ready to devour. 



Thoughts for next time:

The lemon sugar didn't come through enough sprinkled on top. I think I would incorporate it right into the dough next time. There's a lot that could be done adding raisins (which I personally don't like) or other sweet tidbitds. Any thoughts?













dabrownman's picture

Nice job Elliot.  Very New Year's-ish if you ask me.    Now you have started a new tradition!  Just think of all the different kinds and shapes of Sunflower Challah yet to be baked?

I find it appalling that the spell checker doesn't know how to spell Challah too.

Nice baking

pmccool's picture

If raisins aren't to your liking, what about chopping up a peeled and cored apple?  Or two?  Or maybe some chopped dried apricots?  Or dates?  Candied lemon or orange peel?  Or candied ginger?  Lots of possibilities for adding flavors and sweetness.


abbygirl's picture

The original recipe states just to let the dough rest for 15 minutes after kneading before shaping. Does a long first rise do anything significant or is the 15 minute rest enough? Thanks for any replies...

joyfulbaker's picture

And I'd love to know how you braid it.  It looks beautiful.  How about posting directions?



joyfulbaker's picture

Saw the chabad website with the woven loaf--it was tucked in there so I didn't see it at first.  Nice job!