A Unique Twist on Challah

When I injured my knee (tore my ACL, MCL, ABCDEFG – CL, meniscus etc), and broke my fibula, I went through over a month of hell – pain, immobility, inabilities galore, wheelchair, walker, etc. To add insult to injury (yes, pun) tack on months and months of all of the above post-surgery over a month later.  Utter, complete frustration due to being unable to fend for myself, not to mention, downtrodden, bitchy, and loopy on meds.  Basically, you name it, I’ve got it.

I’m still not 100%, so it’s not like I can run the NY marathon! However, I can now do things that seemed far off a short time ago, one of them being standing on my own for longer periods of time, walking a bit without holding onto anything, and as I mentioned in one of my last entries, getting into the kitchen and cooking, all mostly without the brace!

Chocolate Cinnamon Swirl Challah and How to Braid a 3-strand, 4-strand, 5-strand, 6-strand, 7-strand, 8-strand, or 9-strand Challah, or Any Type of Braided Loaves!

Believe it or not, one of things I missed the most while laid up was bread baking. I’m a bread baking fanatic, but one would never know it looking through this blog because I haven’t posted many bread recipes.  In fact, I just so happen to have an over year old sourdough starter that I made using Nancy Silverton’s grape starter method, who’s still thriving (I had my father feed and bake with via a flimsy piece of paper telling him how while I was at the rehab facility for several months, since I didn’t want to lose the poor, abandoned dude). OK, why am I referring to my sourdough starter as if it’s a living, breathing human being or pet?

Well,  because HE IS alive. since yeast is a living organism, and damn, he bubbles and gurgles like a baby every time I feed him (Put away the straight jackets, most bread bakers would know I’m not crazy and have yeasty ‘pets’ of their own). I even named him Herbie, and one day I’ll introduce you to him when I start getting into some serious sourdough bread baking again. Plus, I need to dig into Peter Reinhart’s BBA ASAP, among other great books I possess, running the gamut from your basic white loaf to artisan and all kinds of wild yeast breads.

Chocolate Cinnamon Swirl Challah and How to Braid a 3-strand, 4-strand, 5-strand, 6-strand, 7-strand, 8-strand, or 9-strand Challah, or Any Type of Braided Loaves!

The problem is/was, I need to stand to knead bread. You just don’t get the same result and smooth outcome when sitting. You really need to put your weight into it. Sometimes I succumb to the KA mixer, but I really prefer to take a bread from liquid(s), yeast, and flour(s) to home baked goodness by hand, so I just kind of blew it off until I could do it the way I wanted to.

In any event, this post isn’t about sourdough, artisan or any wild yeast breads, so let’s stop right here. It’s about a bread I couldn’t wait to tackle again once I had the ability to do so, using commercial yeast.  It’s called challah, and I’ve been making loaves of these since I was a teenager because it’s what I grew up with and learned by watching my paternal grandmother make it many times.

Chocolate Cinnamon Swirl Challah and How to Braid a 3-strand, 4-strand, 5-strand, 6-strand, 7-strand, 8-strand, or 9-strand Challah, or Any Type of Braided Loaves!

Growing up, even though we weren’t a very religious family, every Friday night there was a challah at the table. My dad would put a napkin on his head and start chanting and singing in gibberish to make us laugh  (I know, shoot us, we made a mockery of the Sabbath) and then we’d all dive in, annihilating that golden brown, shiny, soft braid into one small end piece within minutes. Any body parts in the way and you could kiss them goodbye. We were almost primal in our lust for this bread!

Chocolate Cinnamon Swirl Challah and How to Braid a 3-strand, 4-strand, 5-strand, 6-strand, 7-strand, 8-strand, or 9-strand Challah, or Any Type of Braided Loaves!

The one caveat is that the challah was always store bought since my mother wasn’t what you would call a kitchen diva, unless it came out of a can or box. Don’t even ask about one of her ‘famous’ recipes called ‘porcipines’ [pronounced poor-key-pines – and ‘poor’ just about sums it up].

Okay, you can ask. MAJOR DIGRESSION TIME!

Once upon a time,when my mother was attempting to cook from scratch, she ordered one of those Betty Crocker plastic recipe boxes they advertised on TV, filled with recipe cards for every occasion! You know, the recipe boxes of the 7-layer salad, sausage balls, and hard-boiled egg stuffed meat loaf.

The infamous ‘porcipines’ were basically meatballs with rice. (‘por-ci (key)-pine was just a cutesy name riff on the famous ‘por-cu-pine’ meatballs. Same thing.). They would have been okay had she cooked the rice PRIOR to rolling them, as the recipe stated. The cooking time wasn’t long enough to cook raw rice inside the meatballs, so they crunched when you bit into them, and I think my dad may have possibly chipped a tooth on one. In fact, they could have been used as weapons if need be. Think of those strange sadomasochistic like balls with silver spikes in them, but smaller.

She may as well have slipped razor blades into them like the crazy, old apple slashing psycho our parents warned us about on Halloween when it came to any apples in our GINORMOUS shopping bags with ghosts, goblins and witches on them. Of course, dear old Dad had to eat some of our candy inspect all candy before we ate it to make sure all razor blades were removed prior to his little girls getting their hands on it. Uh huh.

BUT, to give my Mom some credit, she turned out a kickass egg salad that my friends loved, using that mayo aka salad dressing with the initials MW. However, once I converted to the H mayo, it became too sweet for me.

Chocolate Cinnamon Swirl Challah and How to Braid a 3-strand, 4-strand, 5-strand, 6-strand, 7-strand, 8-strand, or 9-strand Challah, or Any Type of Braided Loaves!

Once again, I’ve veered way off topic. Does a post exist in my blog where I do not veer off topic at least 4 or 5 times? Hmm..I will be throwing out some giveaways soon, and that could be the method I use to choose a winner. Skim through my blog and try to find one entry where it’s less than four times in one post.

Alright, that’s it; I’m now sticking to challah; no segues, no rambling about the fact that one of my cats likes Seth Rogan’s voice (another ‘veer off topic’ for another entry, as I think I’ve reached my quota). Last week, I decided it was time to get reacquainted with some yeast and braiding. It was my nephew’s 1 year celebration of life, and I went on a baking frenzy for his birthday party.

Since I really wanted to bake a challah, that was first on my list. I eventually ended up baking three. I’ve been using the same recipe for years and years, yet another recipe gleaned from late Grandmother’s weathered recipe box. I think it’s the best challah in the world, and it’s unique because it uses egg yolks in lieu of whole eggs, giving it a more dense, doughy texture and a little less rise.  Although it doesn’t rise as high vertically as your usual challah made with whole eggs, it still produces a huge, gorgeous challah albeit a tiny bit flatter than the norm.

Everybody loves this challah.  They beg for it.  I’m not joking.


With that said, I wanted to do something different with one of the challahs, like fill it with something that you don’t usually see in a challah, but not only fill it, we’re talking filling each rope of dough with something tasty.  I did this by rolling each rope into an oblong and flat shape, then spreading the filling on it, (keeping the sides bare so it will seal), painting the bare sides with a finger dab of water, then rolling it tight and sealing it, as you can see in my photos. Then you take that filled strand and roll into a longer rope, tapering the ends. You do the same with the remaining ropes of dough (depending on how many braids you want) and you braid those filled strands together.

Now, I don’t know how you all braid your challahs, but I prefer the 6-Braid method,

There are two ways to 6-braid a challah, and I prefer this 6-strand braid method. You can also do a 3-strand braid, 4-strand braid using a totally different method than Maggie’s, which happens to be a lot easier, albeit not as dramatic and beautiful as Maggie’s when baked. Technically, this is not a braiding method Maggie came up with, as it’s been used for centuries, but it’s her video I’m sending you to, and she does a great job of it.

Chocolate Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Challah

Here was the problem..the filling I came up with was a combo of grated semisweet chocolate, cinnamon, sugar, and raisins – kind of like cinnamon spiked Raisinettes.  However,  I was concerned that my ultimate and favorite Grandma challah recipe wouldn’t bode well with the somewhat heavy filling due to the egg yolks, and it might result in a really flat braid where the filling would amalgamate into one big glob instead of an aesthetically pleasing ratio of bread to filling. This made me look to other recipes, particularly ones using whole eggs and a little less sugar.

I settled on Maggie Glezer’s Chernowitzer Challah, but you can use your own favorite challah recipe for this. The whole point is the filling, rolling and braiding of each strand, and of course you can make up your own filling, sweet or savory. It’s just a unique take on challah that I haven’t seen done before, or at least done using 6 braids. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen basic white braids done this way, but again, never a challah.

Chocolate Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Challah

Once it was filled and baked, I wanted to get a decent shot of the crumb, hence the similar photos, one after another. As you can see, I didn’t achieve individual concentric swirls of the filling (similar to miniature cinnamon rolls), that I was hoping for, but I don’t think braiding is conducive to concentric circles. Then again, maybe the latter method of the 6-braid, linked below, or a 3 or 4-braid challah might give you something closer to it. Regardless, I was still quite pleased with the eclectic swirl. Furthermore, what matters most is taste, texture and crumb, and all three worked out beautifully. so win-win-win.

Now, of course I need to add at least one more photo, since I’m a visual junkie. Below is my Grandmother’s amazing challah, on top of the Chocolate Cinnamon Raisin Swirl challah. There was one tiny problem, though, if you’d call it that.  I like to double glaze my challah with egg wash half way through baking. In other words, glaze the risen challah with egg wash, put it in the oven, and half way through baking, take it out and glaze the areas where the bread rose and split open to insure a nice, even, dark, golden crust, like the Chocolate Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Challah in the photos above.

I forgot to do that with my Grandmother’s challah, so you can see where the bread splits open. No big whoop since I think it gives it a nice rustic look. Plus, it was extraordinarily soft, with a tender, slightly sweet crumb, and super delicious as always. Same could be said of the Chocolate Cinnamon Raisin Swirl challah, since both were gone in minutes! I’ve now been getting requests for a chocolate peanut butter filled challah, reminiscent of a chocolate peanut butter babka we had on the lower east side when I was a kid. What do you think?

Happy challah making/braiding/eating!

My Grandmother's Perfect Homemade Challah

By the way, so many things you can do with leftover day or more-old challah outside of French toast. I like to sandwich the challah with peanut butter and jelly, cut the sandwiches into pieces, then pour a custard over it and bake for peanut butter and jelly bread pudding! It’s great with brioche too (like French toast)!

Challah Braiding Videos

3-Strand Braid

4-Strand Braid

6-Strand Braid Method #1 that you see in my photos


How to Braid 3- 4- 5- 6- 7- 8- and 9-Strand Braids!!

Chocolate Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Challah
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Yield: One 2 lb loaf filled challah
Total rising time - About 4 hours
Cooling time - 10 to 15 mins
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons grated semisweet chocolate
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons raisins
  • 2 tablespoons to ¼ cup sugar, depending on how sweet you like it
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
Egg Wash
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa (optional)
  1. After it's first rise, divide dough into 3, 4 or 6 equal pieces, depending on the amount of strands you're going to use for the braid. Combine all filling ingredients.
  2. Roll each piece into a cylinder shape, then place on a lightly floured board and roll out into an oblong, flat sheet of dough, about 14 x 5 inches.
  3. Divide filling evenly on each sheet of dough, then roll up tightly into a cylinder, making sure none of the filling gets near the edges. Pinch to seal each, then roll the cylinders into about 18-21 inch strands, tapering the ends.
  4. Braid dough as you like, using the videos above if you need help.
  5. Place braid on a greased, parchment or silpat lined baking sheet, cover with lightly greased plastic wrap, and let rise for about 1½ hours until doubled in size.
  6. While the braid is rising, preheat oven to 350 F and combine egg wash ingredients in a bowl or cup until perfectly uniform..no white steaks.
  7. When doubled in size, remove plastic wrap and brush all over with egg wash. Bake for about 40 to 45 minutes, brushing with more egg wash half through baking, making sure to brush the white parts that opened during oven spring, if you want a more burnished challah like in my photos.
  8. Let challah cool on baking sheet for about 10 minutes then remove to a baking rack. Let completely cool before slicing.
* You can make the challah dough in a bread machine on the dough cycle following the manufacturer's directions.

My Grandmother's Amazing Challah
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Yield: 1½ lb challah
Total rising time: 2 hours
This challah is different in that it doesn't rise as high as your basic challah. The egg yolks make it dense and doughy in a good way! Everyone raves about it and begs me to make it!
  • 3¾ - 4¼ cups bread flour
  • 2¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
  • ¼ cup tepid water
  • ¼ cup of sugar (I add an extra 2 tablespoons, but that's optional)
  • 3 egg yolks
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • A scant ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • ¾ cup tepid water
  • Egg wash - beat together 1 large egg plus one egg yolk
  1. In a small bowl dissolve the yeast in ¼ cup tepid water. Cover and let bloom until foamy.
  2. Place 1 cup of the flour into a large bowl. Make a hole in the middle of the flour and pour the bloomed yeast into it. Mix the bloomed yeast into some of the flour from the sides of the hole, covering lightly with flour. Place in warm place, covered with towel.
  3. When the batter rises and looks foamy, add oil, sugar, salt, eggs yolks and remaining ¾ water, then mix until batter like. Slowly start to add remaining flour until you get a nice, non-sticky, somewhat firm ball of dough. You may or may not use all the flour, depending on many factors like the weather etc.
  4. Remove from bowl, and knead on a floured surface for 10 - 15 minutes until smooth and elastic.
  5. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and a towel and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour.
  6. When risen, gently punch/fold down the dough and remove from bowl to a floured surface. Cut into desired amounts of strands, rolling each to about 18-21 inches, tapering the ends, and braid, using one of the videos above if you need help in doing so.
  7. Place braid on a greased or parchment/silpat lined baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap (I like to lightly grease the plastic wrap prior to placing it on top of the braid) and let rise for about another hour until doubled in size.
  8. Right after covering braid to rise, preheat oven to 350F.
  9. Once doubled in size, remove plastic wrap and brush all over with egg wash.
  10. Bake at 350 degrees about 30-35 minutes until golden brown, brushing with more egg wash half way through baking, if desired.
  11. Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes, then remove to a baking rack and cool completely before slicing.
You can make this challah dough in a bread machine on the dough cycle following the manufacturer's directions. Just don't bloom the yeast first, layering 1 full cup of water, and all the flour (start with the least amount and add more flour as the machine starts to mix, if needed, until it feels as described in the above recipe), along with the other ingredients, according to your bread machine's instructions (you know how it is, some go wet ingredients first, dry ingredients last - others dry ingredients first, wet ingredients last)

I’m submitting this entry to Yeastspotting, a weekly bread showcase hosted by Susan of Wild Yeast. You’ve got to check out her blog, as she’s a baking virtuoso.  Her breads and everything else she creates, are beyond outstanding!

I’m also submitting this Challah to zorra’s BBD #22Sweet Breads hosted by Hefe und mehr.  This my first entry to both Yeastspotting and BBD, and I’m really looking forward to many more in the future!

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105 Responses to A Unique Twist on Challah

  1. Brett says:


  2. Brett says:

    Oh goodness me, I was so excited about being first that I just fired it off. I love good bread and Lisa you have braided up a doozy there. I always wondered how they made bread into those shapes. Very cool. It is okay to have your yeast pet Herbie and to talk to him. However if he answers, then you need psychiatric help *red rum! red rum!*

    I’m so glad your knee is getting better. You’ll be cookin’ up a storm.


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  4. shellyfish says:

    What beautiful Challah! I loved reading this post – and your family sounds like fun! I have this on my list of things to make this summer, but I’m waiting for the temps to drop before I even attempt to bake.
    I’m so glad you’re healing up – I know how horrible it is to be unable to do what you love. You’ve been really graceful about it all.

  5. Esther says:

    Glad you can make bread again. It is probably the main thing I miss being gluten free, not the bread itself but making it. I do still think about it sometimes for the boys but kneading the dough would not do me any good as I have reacted from holding warm wheat in the past.

    As to roleplaying, there are tabletop games where you sit and talk about what the characters are doing and there is live action where you do what the characters are doing, more like acting really but for you and the other players not an audience. We do both. I’ll probably put some action photos up later, small one really, really enjoyed himself this weekend.

  6. Rosa says:

    What a beauty! This challah look so delicious! I can’t braid in that way (me and geometry ;-P)…

    Glad to hear that you are feeling better!



  7. Your Challah looks fantastic and soooo!!!!!! delicious. I am so inspired.

  8. Alana says:

    I’ve just started to try to get into myself as a bread baker, but event though I come from a culturally Jewish (anxious women and lots of bagels) family, I haven’t quite geared up to challah yet. But just reading this post, I think I’m feeling a kick in the pants of inspiration. Maybe it’s the chocolate….

  9. I hope you’re doing well! Having been through something similar a couple of years ago I fully empathise with you and how you’re feeling!

    What a great way to come back though-your challah looks like absolute perfection, a burnished beauty!

  10. I loooooove the marbling. Babka challah! Chocolate marble challah is actually a real “thing” that people make, but most people’s loaves aren’t as lovely as yours. Really nice even braiding, beautiful even color and shine. Not easy to do (I know). Nice job! BTW, you can use cocoa and sugar instead of or in addition to chopped chocolate for the marbling: it makes a moister filling for some reason.

  11. foolishpoolish says:

    Beautiful Challah! The swirls of chocolate/raisin/cinnamon are just a work of art!

  12. Barbara says:

    Your bread is gorgeous! Your post is inspiring. I may just have to start baking right now!

  13. jillian says:

    I love the beautiful braiding! Egg breads are my absolute favorite.

  14. Lindsey says:

    Nice to see you back to blogging and with a recipe as mouthwatering as this one! Sorry to hear about your knee- wishing you a swift recovery!

  15. mihl says:

    I think I’ve never seen such a beautiful challah before. I always thought Chernowitz was “only” famous for its literature. I’ve never associated this town with food. From now on I will.

  16. Sue says:

    Enjoyed reading your post, and oh my goodness, the photographs are incredible! Your challahs are a labor of love with the results being works of art! They sound and look delicious and are truly awe inspiring…I will attempt for sure:) Also, glad you’re on the mend!

    BTW…a grilled nutella sandwich on challah is scrumptious:)

  17. What a great post! Your challah looks absolutely gorgeous and delicious. Very inspiring. Your braiding work is just lovely.

    Glad you’re knee is feeling better!


  18. April says:

    Absolutely beautiful and delicious! And I’m glad you have healed enough to start baking bread again.

  19. pragmaticattic says:

    Thanks for the head’s up about BBD #22!

  20. Jill says:

    Your Challah looks amazing and I love that you used a 6-braid technique on it.

    I’ve been out of town and had to schedule my tart post to post on its own and I wasn’t near a computer to respond or see other posts. Thanks for your comment–I really appreciated it!. 🙂

    I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the marbled frangipane tart! Your pictures are so mouth-wateringly beautiful and you were so CREATIVE!! I also enjoyed that you stayed “British” during your write-up. Once again, you did a great job on this challenge.

  21. Soma says:

    Beautiful post & beautiful bread! I have never braided with so many sections before & your illustrations are a big help. Just very very pretty.

  22. Nat says:

    Wow! It’s so appealing! I think it looks festive and will be on the list of my festival bread! Get well soon and look forward to more wonderful creations!

  23. Kathlyn says:

    Holy moly, those are some gorgeous challah breads! I’ve been looking for a new recipe and will definitely try Grandma’s. Thanks for the post – the photos are amazing.


  24. strangerkiss says:

    These look fantastic. I can’t wait to try them! And thanks for the comment on my blog. My challah isn’t in your class (yet) but you’ve inspired me!

  25. Lauren says:

    Isn’t veering off the best part of blogging? I think so, and Herbie sounds like a great guy =D. I’ve never tried Challah (and never seen a gluten free one), but yours looks wonderful!!

  26. Valerie says:

    Your writing is so entertaining! *grin*
    I love stories of culinary disaster. (They always remind me of a classic fammily anecdote: the time Grandma forgot to put the cheese in the cheese soufflé.)

    The bread looks wonderful, and your pictures are gorgeous! I’m glad you’re well enough to make bread again.

  27. parita says:

    OMG this is amazing!i have never tried making challah at home and you encourage me to do so! thank you for visiting my blog:)

  28. That is so beautiful! i love bread and my mouth is watering….

  29. Stefanie says:

    What a mouthwatering challah! I have to try these recipe soon.
    I am happy that you take part in BBD!

  30. junglefrog says:

    Now I just have to know all about that cat-story… 🙂 Your bread looks amazing and as far as I’m concerned you can veer of topic as many times as you want… :)That sourdough sounds like a pretty serious fellow too. I’ve never attempted to make sourdough as it somehow seems a bit daunting..

  31. Marta says:

    Ok, that’s quite possibly the most beautiful challa I’ve ever seen, and clearly the hands-down greatest idea!! Cinnamon and chocolate, what a delicious combo inside the buttery, rich bread! yummy!
    I also like putting in the elbow grease when making bread 🙂

  32. Deborah says:

    I’ve never made challah before – but it’s something I want to make one day! Love the addition of the filling!

  33. Olga says:

    omg, I’m SO impressed with how your challah turned out! Seriously: magazine worthy!

    I tried a similar idea once and it pretty much was a disaster (still tasted good, but was a pain in the behind to make).

  34. Elizabeth says:

    You think my pound cake looks good?? YOUR CHALLAH LOOKS AMAZING!! Lisa Michele you are a delight!

  35. elra says:

    Amazing challah Lisa! Definitely worth bookmarking.

  36. Tim says:

    Lis, I think this is my first comment on your blog, smack me HARD! We were all gathered around the “crappy” computer on the first floor ooohing, ahhing, salivating (Bob almost soaked my shoulder….frigging disgusting) and crying out for some of this bread, the dumplings, the cheesecake,you name it. We miss your cookies and even all the leftovers you graciously fed us peasants heh! Come back to us, PLEASE!!

  37. Zita says:

    Hey, a sourdough pet, that’s way too cool 😉

    Your bread looks amazingly beautiful, and with my favorite flavors, makes me drool right away:)

  38. Faery says:

    I am so sorry that you had to pass through all that pain but I am glad to know that you are feeling better and that you are back to kitchen and baking, I so enjoyed reading this post although my English is limited, I understand your love for baking bread, maybe we are bread-o-holics (does that word exist) but it is so beautiful to feel the dough, watch it grow and then the result… and yes I think my starter is someone that lives in the refrigerator. I love these beautiful Challah and pictures are awesome.
    Sorry I sent you to my other blog, sometimes I get confused with the addresses 8D

  39. Laura says:

    Absolutely gorgeous! I have never seen a challah with filling, that must be one delicious bread.

    I tore my ACL too, ages ago, not fun at all.

  40. teaandscones says:

    second hand know what you are going thru’ with your knee. Daughter did hers playing soccer about 9 years ago. It took her a while, but she finally recovered and it determined her future – a P.T. Good luck with yours.

    Beautiful challah. I love making it, but have never made it filled.

  41. Lori says:

    What beautiful bread. I need to make Challah. Never had it so I must make it! Today I made buns. It’s so cold, I dont mind baking. Maybe I will attempt challah.

    Your post cracked me up. So funny that your Mom never cooked much and you are so stunning with your food and endeavors. Guess you take after your Grandma. Her challah is beautiful too.

    Por-key-pines. he he he he. sorry Mom.

  42. Lori says:

    Oh and I wanted to say the two pics with the cross section of the bread kind of remond me of a Chinese dragon, no?

  43. jo says:

    I can’t help myself but laugh at your description of “Herbie”. Maybe I should start giving mine a name too (haha). But seriously your challah looks amazing and I can’t believe you have done a 6-braid. Even with a 3-braid, I’m having trouble.

  44. BitterSweet says:

    I think I gasped aloud when I got to the photo of the interior of the bread… Here I was thinking how stunning that braid was, but that marbling! Oh my goodness, this is quite possibly the most beautiful bread Ive ever seen.

  45. Margie says:

    Thanks so much for sharing you Grandma’s Amazing Challah recipe. Seems appropriately titled. I love the image of your family frenzy in the midst of bread lust. I’m feeling inspired to braid and bake my own loaf.

  46. Appoggiatura says:

    Amazing challah! A six strand braid, a cinnamon raisin swirl, beautifully burnished crust — you have outdone yourself!

  47. Lisa says:

    YOur challah is so beautiful! What a talented person you are!

  48. Lisa, this challah is fantastic. I remember eating so much of it when I was living in Boston. There was this fabulous bakery called Cheryl Anns in Brookline that had queues out the door each Friday and on the holidays. I have never tackled Challah myself, but I have baked other egg enriched braided breads. I will have to make this soon. This recipe is bookmarked! 🙂

  49. Marla says:

    Absolutely gorgeous. Love the cross section photo. Glad you are on the mend as well, no fun being out if the kitchen action. I must have a look through your wild yeast collection. That is my main way of baking and usually don’t bother to post about them as I seldom measure the same way twice and find writing bread recipes long winded. Perhaps I’ll find some inspiration for writing down my adventures in wild yeasting.

  50. Oh my gosh – that challah looks so good. I have never attempted one, but I think I will have to after seeing yours. YUMMO!

  51. nick says:

    Your grandmother’s challah looks awesome – and your stuffed loaf is quite inviting despite not looking like 6 mini cinnamon rolls.

    I’ve always wanted to make challah, I enjoy eating it, but it seems like so much work. Especially since I know I’m just going to end up leaving it on the counter overnight to stale and make the best French Toast EVER with the next day.

    I’m pretty sure that this: “Think of those strange sado-masochistic like balls with silver spikes in them”

    refers to a “mace”, just FYI. 🙂

    PS I don’t want to eat anything that resembles a mace in texture either, yuck.

  52. ingrid says:

    You’re a riot. LOL, I laugh because I know first hand that when talking with you we were off here and there and then scrambling to finish what we initially talked about.

    Both of your challahs (sp?) look GREAT. Not surprised at all that you had to challenge yourself. 🙂 Your photos as always (yes, always, don’t argue!) are great!

    Now when how are YOU? Guess I’m going to have to give you a shout as you’re being a stranger! Glad though to hear that your feeling up (ha-ha) to baking bread.

    Last, yes, yes, I know my comments are all so long, almost done, how was your nephew’s special day….details!

  53. Sophie says:

    Oooooh Lisa-Michele, I hope you are feeling better every day now!

    Your filled challah bread looks so tasty & lovely photographed as well!

  54. Wendy says:

    Your challah looks wonderful. I love that you filled each strand. I’m glad your knee is healing, although slower than you would like. Take care!

  55. Juliana says:

    This challah is just a dream…love it! The step-by-step pictures as awesome, I’ll definitely try it…looks so yummie and very tempting.

  56. Laura B says:

    Wow, this Challah looks great, and u went throught a long process, congrats!

  57. isabelle says:

    Your challah looks absolutely gorgeous and delicious.
    I need to make Challah.
    Glad to hear that you are feeling better!

  58. Katrina says:

    That bread looks fabulous!

  59. Karine says:

    The bread looks so good! It must be amazing right comning out of the oven!

  60. climbhighak says:

    As you start to feel better it is showing in your work. That bread is stunning and I bet just as delicious.

    I also have a pet in my fridge. Also made from Nancy Silverton’s grape starter recipe. Maybe it needs a name.

  61. Kristen says:

    What a beautiful loaf of Challah, which happens to be my favorite kind of bread.
    Can’t wait until we get to meet Herbie (I loved that you named your starter!!)

  62. Oh if you knew oh much I LOVE challah! I lived with a jewish family for a while and we also had one at the table every friday at dinner. They were good but not as good as this you made here! Gorgeous! What a nice idea for a cinnamon lover like me!

  63. Hélène says:

    I’m with you. I injured my leg, last Nov., and it took couple months to heel. I was missed baking so much. At one point I did with the help of my son. Hope you are doing better.

    Beautiful challah. I love the middle of it.

  64. Annemarie says:

    Torn ACL – what a horror. Very impressed that your starter survived your hospitalization/recovery. Your challah is most beautiful.

  65. Mohana says:

    That is an amazing challah bread!!!! Can’t wait to try it at home, but I bet it won’t look as delicious as yours 😉

  66. duodishes says:

    Wow! You do amazing work. Everytime we see a picture, we swoon. This looks over the top good.

  67. lisamichele says:

    Once again, thank you ALL for your flattering comments and well wishes. Although I usually respond from blog to blog, email, phone or in person, I thought I’d throw in a few here 🙂


    Brett – First place wins you a brand, spanking new Ronco Airstream Pizza Oven with optional pepperoni grips! Oh, if Herbie ever speaks to me, he’s going in the trash, or maybe that Poltergeist lady could help – “This sourdough starter is CLEAN”.


    pragmaticattic – I sometimes call it my ‘Rugelach Challah’, as that filling is what I use in my chocolate rugelach, minus the raisins, and plus nuts. Thanks for cocoa tip, I’ll try it next time!

    Esther – I bet shellyfish could come up with a gluten-free Challah!


    mihl – Looks like Chernowitz takes a break from reading and writing every so often ;D I actually read the book with that title by Fran Arrick. Disturbing, yet riveting.


    Lauren – ‘Veering off’ is fun! Thing is, I do the same in real life! I’m sure it gets annoying..like – get to the point already! lol As for gluten free, see above for shellyfish’s link. I know she could come up with something!


    Valerie – LOL@the time Grandma forgot to put the cheese in the cheese soufflé!!


    Simone – I promise to include the cat story in my next entry. Actually, it would take a ten ton anvil to the cerebellum to prevent me from doing so..considering my knack for veering off topic 😛


    Tim – Suck it up! 😛


    Faery – I like that you refer to your starter as ‘someone’ who lives in your fridge. The cold food storage version of the Tidy Bowl man!


    Laura, teaandscones, Annemarie, Helene – NO, not very fun at all, and I wish it had ONLY been my ACL! Little steps, literally!


    Lori – The interior does resemble a Chinese Dragon (after I looked it up..lol)! I kept thinking of the Dragons from ‘Reign of Fire’ or ‘Harry Potter’ 🙂


    Julia – I went to college in Boston, and the name rings a bell, but I don’t recall having ever been there. Boston has a wonderful abundance of bakeries, restaurants, cafes etc, but a loathsome baseball team 😛


    nick – Now how would you know it’s called a mace? 😉 That said, YES, Challah french toast IS the BEST! However, try my Grandma’s Challah, I don’t think it’ll make it to the french toast stage – honest!


    Ingrid – I hear you, sistah, sis, sister..whatever..LOL It’ll never change 🙂


    Robert – Name it, it’ll live forever 🙂

  68. Lisa, that is a fabulous swirl challah! Have done some swirl cinnamon sweet bread before but never done something so sophisticated and beautiful! Please the eyes and I am sure please the taste buds too… 🙂 And beautiful photos too…


  69. Shandy says:

    Your Challah Bread is Amazing!!! Grandma recipes are always the best too! I hope you get to complete recooperation very soon and I just have to add that your photos are just beautiful. How did you start the Nancy Silverton grape starter to go? I got to the 5th day and mine molded. I was heartbroken because I have always wanted to start one and now I have failed twice. A third try is just around the corner =).

  70. Mary says:

    Oh wow–are you kidding me? Everytime I visit your blog I’m reminded so much of why I miss NY. I always loved anticipating the challah to come each Friday. I still seek it out for french toast…it’s the only way to go. Yours looks fabulous–and I love the filling. Reminds me of another of my favorite “NY treats”–chocolate babka.

  71. maris says:

    Cinnamon Raisin chocolate challah? I think you’re trying to kill us! I love bread, period, and it doesn’t hurt when bread looks like dessert!

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  73. Phoo-D says:

    What a unique and lovely way to make challah! Next time I make one I will have to give that 6 braid method a try. It is beautiful!

  74. Hillary says:

    This is so impressive! The filling disperses beautifully and the challah looks out of this world! My sister in law gave me challah braiding lessons when I came to visit. I sure needed them!

  75. burpexcuzme says:

    Man, that challah looks absolutely GORGEOUS! I am so sorry you hurt yourself but I am glad you’re getting better!

  76. Richa says:

    Lisa, that is some wonderfully beautiful challah! My breads and Naans are very simple compared to these! I havent tried a challah yet because i was being lazy about it! But these beautiful swirls and braids and color.. are awesome enuff to inspire me! Challah it is!!
    thank you for dropping by my blog! I have too many things I have to try from your blog! Keep up the good work!

    I hope you feel better soon! My husband also tore his ACL last month and is thinking about getting surgery.. I dont know how he will cope up with being at home with me for a while!:)

  77. Mimi says:

    This is my first visit to your blog and I loved this post. Both challahs are gorgeous, but I have to tell you, the filled challah made me want to drool!

    I have a starter named Herbert. He is a little more formal than yours I guess.

    I hope you feel 100 percent soon, take care.

  78. Elissa says:

    Goodness gracious that is one beautiful loaf. Wow!

    I’m glad to hear about your knee as well 🙂

  79. Pinky says:

    Glad to hear you’re doing better. My brother has had a slew of leg issues as well, so I understand how exciting it is to be up without assistance.
    This post is one of the most mouthwatering I’ve seen in awhile. I love rich eggy breads, and these loaves look perfectly dense but soft. I’m not much of an at home bread baker, but I may need to try this one out.

  80. Aparna says:

    I am totally captivated by your challah, its so beautiful with the “chocolatey” swirls.
    Hope the bread making made you feel better.

  81. bakingobsession says:

    Fabulous, Lisa! My nana filled such challah with different jams (each strand with different one), poppy seed filling or even curd cheese 🙂 It is a very European thing.

    I’m glad you are feeling better.

  82. lisamichele says:

    Oh wow, Vera..I’d honestly never seen a Challah with those kinds of fillings or any fillings per strand! They sound absolutely amazing! Is there any way you can make one of those and provide a recipe? I’ll repost this over at your blog 🙂

  83. I loved reading this post. Your challah is golden swirly perfection! I’ve never made challah but have wanted to for some time and this was a great lesson. I’m also glad to hear that you’re feeling better!

  84. Irene says:

    What a gorgeous challah! I just made Peter Reinhart’s version, but I was not so pleased with it as a challah (but very nice if you don’t have challah-like expectations, if that makes any sense).

  85. Ente says:

    Amazing Challah! I can never get that dark golden gloss on mine…will have to try your version.

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  87. Madam Chow says:

    Your challah looks amazing. My starter is called “Son of Boris,” because Boris died last year. And I love all your stories!

  88. Verena says:

    Your braid is so beautiful and the pics gave me a crazy craving for it!!!
    Loved the recipe and as always your post!
    Cheers from Brazil!

  89. glenda says:

    Beautiful bread! Wow, it just looks great and the recipe sounds delicious!

  90. Andreas says:

    Funny post and gorgeous challah.
    I also like to knead by hand and I’m torn about buying an electric kneading appliance (KA, Kenwood, Bosch; the usual suspects 😉 )
    It would be like somebody who enjoys mountain biking buys himself a cross-country motorcycle because it’s less exhausting.

  91. Michelle vandeVen says:

    I saw this when you first posted it and I have yet to get it out of my mind! It looks not only so beautiful, but delicious.
    I came back today to get the recipe and try this thing out!
    Thanks for posting such awesome stuff!

  92. Cool site, love the info.

  93. Trip'n Mommy says:

    Just found this when I was searching for a cinnamon raisin challah recipe for Rosh Hashana. This looks amazing and I just have to try it.

    Thanks for the inspiration.

    Happy New Year!

  94. Joanne says:

    I am so sorry to read about your health problems! I recently pulled a muscle in my leg and had to pause my marathon training just as it was about to start. It’s not such a big deal but it landed me on crutches for a while and I’m still not back to running yet. So I empathize.

    This bread looks absolutely amazing! I made my first challah bread recently (I’m just getting into bread baking) and will definitely bookmark this. Beautiful.

  95. Ah I left my comment in the wrong place. Can I leave it here too! I love this post and it’s full of useful links and lovely photos. See you again soon 🙂

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  99. Great article, saved this page, I’ll be back for more.

  100. This post is KILLING me Lisa…I love a good Challah and am now going to be craving it something fierce until I whip one out of the hot oven. I love the addition of the “raisinette”. Totally doing this. Thanks for inspiring and glad you’re back to bread baking!!


  101. Catcat says:

    Just wanted to let you know that I made this (only my second challah ever) and it was a great success–exactly the recipe I was looking/hoping for, perfect for the holidays. Thanks!

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