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Jul 21, 2012

Demerara Sugar Honey Challah

This month, the Twelve Loaves (formerly Breaking Bread) fraternity is making challah. To participate, you can make any challah recipe you like, as long as you bake it in July 2012.

I decided to try the recipe from Cake Duchess, the host of this party, with one variation. Instead of Sugar in the Raw, I used demerara sugar. The sugars aren't that different from each other, plus my pantry will not hold one more unique ingredient. As an added bonus, I get to give my bread a different name.  Here is an explanation of the different types of sugars.

OK. Hope you came back after clicking all of those links. Onto the bread....

Recipe adapted from Cake Duchess, courtesy of Food Wanderings.

Demerara Sugar Honey Challah


2 C warm water (100 to 110 degrees)
28 grams of active dry yeast.
1/2 C demerara sugar
35.2 oz/1 Kg/7 C unbleached all purpose flour (I prefer King Arthur Flour)
4 eggs - 3 for the bread and 1 for the egg wash
1/2 C vegetable oil
1/4 C honey
1 T salt
1 tsp. sugar, for the egg wash
1 tsp. water, for the egg wash


Toasted sesame seeds
Poppy seeds
Raisins/dried fruit
My poppy seed bottle looks cloudy because I keep it in the freezer. Don't judge.


In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the warm water and the yeast. Stir with a dough whisk, a large spoon, or the paddle attachment. Add the sugar and stir until you feel that the sugar has dissolved, about one minute. Add 1 C of the flour (have the 35.2 oz of flour measured out in advance so you don't have to be exact while adding it) and continue to stir/mix.

Add the three eggs, one at a time, until combined.

Add two more cups of flour, the oil, the honey, and the salt. If you use the same measuring cup for the honey that you used for the oil, the honey will fall right out. Mix until thoroughly combined.

Switch to the dough hook and begin adding the rest of the flour. As you add flour and mix it in, scrape down the bowl as you go. Knead for about 12 minutes. Depending on the humidity, you may or may not use all of the flour. When the dough starts clearing the sides of the bowl, quit adding flour. The dough should be firm yet sticky. (The stickiness is from the sugars and not the wetness of the dough. The stickiness will go away after the first rise.)

Note: I have a 5 quart KitchenAid and experienced a lot of "dough creep up' on the dough hook to the point where the dough got all stuck in the top of my mixer. While I've mixed this much dough in my mixer before, it's been with leaner doughs. Next time I will divide the recipe in half. If you have a larger mixer, you should be fine.

Oil a large bowl or dough rising bucket and add the dough. Either flip the dough to oil it all around, or spray the top with spray oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until it doubles, about 60 to 90 minutes.

Once the dough has doubled, remove it from the bucket, and divide it into six equal pieces. I use a scale to weigh the pieces. Mine were about 11-12 ounces each.

Cover three of the pieces with a damp towel, and form three of the pieces into strands, about 20 inches long.
Pinch the top of the strands together, and begin braiding.
Once you have braided the strands, tuck the ends under for a straight loaf, or coil the braid around like a snail and tuck the end under to make a round loaf. Repeat with the second three strands.

If you'd like to add fruit, flatten the strands, sprinkle with fruit (I added a mix of golden raisins and dried blueberries, cranberries and cherries to one loaf), and roll the dough around the fruit before braiding.
Line a baking sheet with parchment, spray the paper with spray oil, and transfer the loaves to the baking sheet. Spray the loaves with spray oil, and cover loosely with plastic wrap.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and allow the dough to double, about 45 minutes to an hour.
Brush the dough with the egg wash (one egg, one tsp sugar, one tsp water, whisked) and sprinkle with sesame seeds or poppy seeds (or not, the seeds are optional).
See how they grew?
Bake for 15 minutes and rotate the pan 180 degrees, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes more, until golden brown and the bread registers about 190 degrees in the center. Cool on a wire rack.
Notes after baking:
This bread is fabulous, and it's not as sweet as you would expect. This bread is very "cottony" and soft. I made one loaf with fruit, and one loaf without. I will make this bread again, but I don't think I would do the fruit again unless I blended it throughout the dough, and not just concentrate it in the strands.

Would you like to comment?

  1. Simply wonderful looking challah!!

  2. Thank you Winnie. You are the authority on challahs!

  3. Come on really? This looks AMAZING.

  4. Just gorgeous, Karen! I am so happy you baked along this month. I now want to make a challah every week. Love your adaptation. sweet wishes xx

  5. Sounds delicious Karen , is that regular suger ?

  6. Hi! I've made this before with my kitchen aid mixer but I no longer have it. How would I adapt this recipe to doing things by hand?

    1. It's not too stiff of a dough, so you could probably knead it by hand. Just knead it a bit longer.


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