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+ servings
Three strand challah formed in a circle with a bowl of honey in the center.
5 from 1 vote

How to Make a Festive Challah

Learn how easy it is to shape a round, festive challah for Rosh Hashanah.
Active Time5 mins
Total Time5 mins
Course: Bread
Cuisine: Jewish
Keyword: challah, rosh hashanah, round challah
Yield: 1 challah



  • Make the Dough. My traditional Challah recipe already has honey in it, so it is super ready for Rosh Hashanah! Alternatively, you can use the full recipe of my Whole Wheat Challah or my Fluffy Sourdough Challah.
  • Divide the Dough. After the first bulk rise of the dough (Step 5 in the Challah recipe, Step 7 in the Whole Wheat Challah and Step 2 in the Fluffy Sourdough Challah), divide it into three equal portions. Your best bet is to weigh the total amount of the dough, divide by 3, and weigh out 3 equal portions.
  • Roll Dough into Strands. Roll each of the 3 portions into strands, approximately 18 inches long. If the dough starts pulling back (shrinking), cover it with plastic wrap and let it rest 5-10 minutes.
  • Braid. Line up the 3 strands in front of you, so they appear vertically in front of you. Starting from the center of the strands, make a simple three strand braid working your way down towards the ends of the strands closest to you, leaving about an inch of each strand not braided. Then go back to the middle and work your way up, also leaving about an inch of the top edge of the strands not braided. Form the braided dough into a circle, joining the ends together.
  • Insert Oven-Proof Bowl in Center. Use an oven safe round dish (ramekin, small Pyrex dish) for the center. Spray the outside of your round dish with non-stick spray before inserting it into the center of your Festive Challah. (Alternatively, you could form a circle with aluminum foil, spray the outside, and insert it in the middle.)
  • Second Rise. Cover and allow the Festive Challah to rise as stated in the recipe you are using. Egg wash the outside of the Festive Challah and decorate with seeds as desired. Bake as instructed.
  • Cool and Enjoy. Once cool, the round dish in the center should separate from the dough. You can wash it if any seeds or egg wash got on the inside. Once clean, place back in the center and fill with honey.


  • If making my traditional challah recipe, I recommend using half the dough to make a Festive Challah. In other words, from that recipe, you can make two Festive Challahs or make one Festive Challah and one 4-Strand Round Challahs. If making my Whole Wheat Challah or my Fluffy Sourdough Challah, use the full recipe of each for one Festive Challah.
  • Using the palms of your hands, roll the dough against a clean countertop. Try to keep the ends of the log the same width as the center. (Try to avoid tapering the ends.) If the dough starts pulling back (shrinking), cover it with plastic wrap and let it rest 5-10 minutes. (You are allowing the gluten to rest. After a short rest, you should be able to roll the dough out without any pull-back.)
  • Egg wash is what makes a challah brown on top and look shiny. It is best to use a pastry brush to apply the egg wash to the dough. Make sure to apply the brush everywhere dough is visible for an even, consistent application. For a light browning color, mix one egg with 1 teaspoon of water. For a darker brown look, just whisk one egg. For a dark brown look, use just an egg yolk.