This Cinnamon Challah Bread is soft, light, and airy. This soft buttery bread comes with a brown sugar cinnamon swirl. You only need 11 ingredients and the rising time is just 45 minutes.
Detailed step-by-step instructions including lots of photos are provided. Learn how to braid challah bread with 3 strands. Including video.
By the way, have you tried my air fryer cinnamon rolls yet?
Making this recipe is absolutely no science. The easiest way to make this bread is with a stand mixer because the dough requires up to 10 minutes of kneading time on medium-high speed.
After the dough is mixed and risen, you need to prepare the filling, roll out the dough, fill it, roll it up, braid the strands, brush with egg, and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Doesn’t sound that complicated, right?
This sweet and divine bread is perfect for breakfast and dessert, or use leftovers for a Blueberry French Toast Bake.
Start with combining milk, sugar, honey, and yeast. At this stage, you need a whisk attachment. Let sit for 5-10 minutes.
After 5-10 minutes it should start to get foamy on the surface. If not, your yeast is probably too old. In this case, stop here and buy new yeast. It's not worth proceeding with dead yeast because the dough won't rise at all.
Add eggs, butter, cinnamon, vanilla, and salt and stir to combine.
Replace the whisk attachment with a dough hook and add the flour.
Stir on medium-low speed until the dough comes together about 3-5 minutes. If the dough doesn't start to come off the sides of the bowl at this point, turn speed to low and add 1 tbsp flour at the time until you reach that point. It should look like in the picture below.
The required amount of flour depends on the humidity and climate. You do not need as much flour when it is cold and dry as when it is warm and humid. Be careful that you don't add too much flour or you end up with dry and dense bread. Stay between 3+½ to 3+¾ cups (420g-450g) flour if possible.
Then turn on medium-high speed and knead for about 5 minutes. You see in the two pictures below that the dough comes off the sides of the bowl. At the end of the mixing process, the sides should be clean.
In the meantime, preheat the oven to 200°F (100°C).
Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl and grease the top of the dough as well. The dough should come off the dough hook easily. It should be silky, smooth, and slightly sticky to touch. Turn off the oven and place the bowl in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes. Leave the oven door ajar.
Then prepare the filling. Therefore melt butter in the microwave and stir together with brown sugar and cinnamon and set aside. Then remove the dough from the oven and preheat it to 200°F (100°C) again.
On a very lightly floured surface cut the dough into 3 equal pieces. Use as little flour as possible, just enough that the dough doesn't stick to the surface.
Roll each dough into a 16-inch (40cm) long and 5-inch (12cm) wide rectangle, about 0.15 inch (3-4mm) thick.
Spread filling on top of each dough equally leaving a 1 - 1.25-inch (2-3cm) space around the edges. Starting at one long side, roll up each dough tightly, trapping the filling. Seal the edges with your fingers.
Then braid the three strands by placing them side by side. Pinch together the upper end of the 3 strands.
Take the right strand and cross it over the middle strand that it is in the center. The right strand became your middle strand. Then take the left strand, cross it over the middle strand, and place it in the center. The left strand is now your middle strand. See the photo below.
Then grab the right strand again and cross it over the middle strand and place it in the center. The right strand is again your middle strand.
Take the left strand and cross it over the middle strand and place it in the center. Your left strand is now your middle strand.
Repeat until it is fully braided.
Pinch the end and tuck the tip under that it has a round shape. Turn the loaf upside down that the top tip is now facing to you and braid until fully braided. Then pinch the end and tuck the tip under and transfer to a parchment paper layered baking sheet.
Turn off the preheated oven and place it in the oven to rise for 30 minutes until it is doubled in size. Leave the oven door ajar.
Brush the loaf with egg and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake for 30-32 minutes. Cover with parchment paper after 10 minutes to prevent heavy browning.
Why is it dense?
- Too much flour. Please resist the urge to add more and more flour. Stay in the recommended range of flour depending on humidity and climate. Too much flour can lead to a doughy and dense center. The dough should be slightly sticky to touch once kneaded. Also for the rolling, use as little flour as possible. Just enough that the dough doesn't stick to the surface and rolling pin.
- Wrong flour. I don't recommend using gluten-free, cake, or bread flour or any other flour than high-quality all-purpose flour. With a good brand like Bob's Red Mill or King Arthur, you can't go wrong.
- Wrong oven temperature. I can't stress enough how important it is to have an additional oven thermometer. The real oven temperature might differ from your oven dial. I always need to turn my oven dial about 20°F higher to reach the temperature I really need. An additional oven thermometer saved me in many situations.
Why isn't it rising?
- Most of the yeast was dead. The good news is that this recipe is developed that you have a yeast test included. After combining milk, sugar, honey, and yeast, the surface needs to get foamy after 5-10 minutes. If nothing happens after 10 minutes, you can be sure that your yeast is already dead. Do not proceed any further because the loaf will not rise at all. Buy a new one and start again.
- The milk was too hot. At the moment you add the yeast to the milk, it should be lukewarm (110°F). If the milk is too hot, it kills all your active yeast cells. Result: a bread that doesn't rise and is flat.
Why is it dry?
- Here again: too much flour. Yes, too much flour can cause either a doughy and dense center or super dry loaf. If you measure your ingredients with cups instead of a kitchen scale, please make sure to spoon and level the flour. A packed cup of flour equals 1.5 cups of spooned and leveled flour.
- Overbaking. Set a timer that you can't forget to remove it from the oven. With an additional oven thermometer, you can be sure that the oven temperature is not too hot as well.
If you freeze the whole loaf, let it cool completely. Tightly wrap in plastic foil twice. Then tightly wrap in tinfoil twice. Place in a large freezer bag and squeeze out all the air. Freeze for up to 1 month. To thaw, unwrap, and let it come to room temperature for 4-5 hours.
If you freeze single slices, wrap each slice in plastic foil twice and place it in freezer bags. Remove as much air as possible. They freeze well for up to 1 month. To thaw, unwrap the slices and let come to room temperature 1-2 hours.
Leftovers can be used for French Toast or French Toast Bake.
Recipe and Video
Cinnamon Challah Bread Recipe
- ½ cup lukewarm milk (120ml)
- ¼ cup granulated white sugar (50g)
- 3 tbsp honey (64g)
- 2 ¼ tsp active dry yeast (7g)
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup butter, melted (113g)
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 vanilla bean* (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour (420g)
Filling and brushing
- ½ cup butter, melted (113g)
- ¾ cup brown sugar (150g)
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 2 tbsp coarse sugar for sprinkling on top
- In a large mixing bowl, using a stand or handheld mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, combine milk, sugar, honey, and yeast and stir to combine. Let sit for about 10 minutes until it starts to get foamy on the surface.
- Preheat oven to 200°F (100°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Add eggs, butter, cinnamon, vanilla*, and salt and whisk to combine.
- Replace whisk attachment and attach a dough hook. Add flour and stir on medium-low speed until the dough comes together about 3-5 minutes. The dough should be sticky to touch but should start to come off the sides of the bowl. If it doesn't come off the sides of the bowl, turn speed to low and add 1 tbsp of flour at the time until you reach this point. Don't add too much flour, stay at around 3+¾ cups (450g) flour highest.
- Then turn on medium-high speed and knead for about 5 minutes. Transfer dough to a lightly greased heatproof bowl (brush a few drops of oil in a bowl or use a non-stick spray). Turn off the preheated oven and place the bowl in the oven to rise for about 15 minutes. Leave the oven door ajar.
- For the filling, stir together butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon until combined. Set aside.
- Remove the bowl from the oven and preheat again to 200°F (100°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
- On a very lightly floured surface cut challah bread dough into 3 equal pieces. Roll each dough into a 16-inch (40cm) long and 5-inch (12cm) wide rectangle, about 0.15 inch (3-4mm) thick. Spread filling on top of each dough equally leaving a 1 - 1.25-inch (2-3cm) space around the edges. Starting at one long side, roll up each dough tightly, trapping the filling. Seal the edges with your fingers. Repeat with the two remaining dough pieces.
- Place all 3 strands side by side. Pinch together the upper end of the 3 strands. Braid the strands, pinch the end and tuck the tip under that it has a round shape. Turn the loaf upside down that the top tip is facing to you and braid until fully braided. Then pinch the end and tuck the tip under. Transfer to the parchment paper layered baking sheet. Turn off the preheated oven and place it in the oven to rise for about 30 minutes. Leave the oven door ajar.
- Remove the baking sheet from the oven and preheat to 375°F (190°C). Lightly brush the bread with egg and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake for about 30-32 minutes. Cover loosely with parchment paper or foil after 10 minutes to prevent heavy browning. Let cool for about 30 minutes. Although it is best eaten fresh, you can store it in an airtight container at room temperature up to 2 days.
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