Sweet Challah Bread (The Spirit of Food)

Margaret Hathaway wrote an essay titled, "For a Sweet New Year" in The Spirit of Food. She is the author of The Year of the Goat: 40,000 Miles and the Quest for the Perfect Cheese and Living with Goats. A self-described foodie, who managed Manhattan's famed Magnolia Bakery, but decided she would have more fulfilled life as a goatherd. This exceptional writer also submitted this exceptional Sweet Challah bread recipe.

Wild honey is added to warm water, yeast, and sugar. Add wheat flour, all-purpose flour, and knead well. Raisins are optional. Let dough rise twice.

Divide dough in half and cut each piece into third or six strands (Click on video link below on how to braid strands). Roll out the dough into long strands with fat centers and skinny ends.

Braid into two loaves and cover with plastic and let rise for 45 minutes.

Brush egg yolk and water mixture twice for dark, glossy tops. I sprinkled my loaves with poppy seeds. Bake at 325 degrees for about an hour.

Cool before slicing. My family could not wait so we inhaled two hot loaves with lots of butter.

This is a very simple but great bread recipe. Don't let the long instruction stop you from trying. Make it just once and you will see how simple it is to make this wonderful Challah.

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Sweet Challah Bread
Recipe Adapted from Margaret Hathaway's
"For a Sweet New Year", The Spirit of Food
Used by permission of Wipf and Stock Publishers

1 Tablespoon active dry yeast
2 cups of warm water
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup canola oil, plus 2 tablespoon more for greasing the bowl
A few threads of saffron threads, crushed (omit if you don't have any in pantry)
3 large eggs,
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 cups of whole wheat flour
5 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
3/4 cup raisins (optional)
1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon cold water for glaze
Poppy or sesame seeds for sprinkling (optional)

Makes 2 large loaves

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast,honey, and lukewarm water and let proof.

When it has turned creamy and begun to foam, after about 5 minutes, add the oil, saffron, salt, eggs, sugar, and whole wheat flour.

Using your hand, mix well until all the ingredients are incorporated.

Gradually add the all-purpose flour, mixing in a 1/2 cup at a time.

Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead until you have a smooth, supple dough.

If using raisins, knead them in.

Clean out bowl and grease it, then return dough to bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 hour, until almost doubled in size. Dough may also rise in an oven that has been warmed to 150 degrees then turned off. Punch down dough, cover and let rise again in a warm place for another hour.

Divide dough in half and cut each piece into thirds or sixths. Roll out the dough into long logs.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Cover the loaves loosely with plastic wrap and let rise for another 45 minutes.

Uncover and brush with egg wash. For a shinier loaf, wait 5 minutes and brush with egg again before baking. Sprinkle poppy seeds or sesame seeds if using.

Bake for about 50 minutes to 1 hour, until the loaf is lightly browned and sounds hollow when its underside is rapped with a knuckle.

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  1. Wow! Kay, that is beautiful bread! I LOVE baking bread, but just don't do it as often as I used to. Once again you've inspired me and I'll just have to bake this beautiful Challah bread this week. Maybe...:-)

  2. Beautiful challah! I love this bread. Nicely done (=

  3. I've always liked this bread! It's so pretty. :)