Friday, August 10, 2012

Lemon Poppyseed Challah

This past weekend, I attended a wedding of a friend's younger sister.  One of her bridesmaid, it turned out, is a reader of The Challah Blog (hi, Lizzie!).  She has been making the challah recipe of my friend Hannah (mom of these cute challah helpers) and started talking about a challah blog she enjoys -- mine!  My first non-hometown fan that I got to meet in real life!

Anyway, Lizzie suggested I make a Lemon Poppyseed Challah.  So, I complied.  Here it is!  Just for you, Lizzie.  Tell me what you think!

I've used lemon twice before in my challah, and one thing I've struggled with is the balance of enough lemon flavor and enough sweetness. I think this is my best balance yet of sweet and tangy.

1/2 c water
1 1/2 tsp active dry or instant yeast
1/2 tsp plus 1 tbsp sugar
1 egg plus 1 more for egg wash (you can also reserve a bit and just use one)
2 tbsp neutral oil such as canola or vegetable
2 c bread flour
1/2 tsp salt
zest of about 3/4 of a lemon, finely chopped
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp poppyseeds

For the frosting...

1/2 c powdered sugar
2-3 tbsp milk, unflavored soy milk, or non-dairy substitute
1/4 - 1/2 tsp vanilla, to your taste

This is a low yield recipe, because it's really different. I figure, you'll probably want to pair it with something more traditional or bake it as special morning treat. Yield is 2 quite small loaves or 1 smallish loaf with a few rolls.

Proof your the yeast in warm but not hot water with 1/2 tsp sugar.  While the yeast is proofing, zest your lemon and squeeze out the lemon juice.  When the yeast is foamy (about 10 minutes), mix in the egg, oil, zest, and juice.  Mix with a wooden spoon.  Add the flour, salt, and poppy seeds.
lemon_poppy_01 lemon_poppy_02
Mix by hand or on a stand mixer until a the ball holds together. Knead as normal. This dough is a bit wetter than most of your doughs and may feel heavier, but it should not feel sticky. Place in an oiled bowl and let rest until doubled in size, about an hour and a half.
When the dough has doubled, punch down and braid as normal.  I chose to make one six-stranded braid and four rolls (so we could do some sampling).
lemon_poppy_04 lemon_poppy_05
Let rest an additional thirty minutes. Egg wash and bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes, turning halfway. While your challah bakes, you can make the drizzle frosting if you like. Since these were just for noshing, I made the frosting dairy, however non-dairy milk will work just fine. (This will probably make you too much frosting, but you can always use on cookies! Yum!)
Drizzle the frosting over your challah with a teaspoon and admire your handy work!
Thanks so much to Lizzie for not only reading my blog, but making a request and inspiring me to make this delicious treat! It's definitely a keeper. Shabbat Shalom from our bayit to yours!


  1. That looks amazing! Was the stickiness from the glaze a problem?

    1. Hi Hindy! No, it wasn't too bad sticky-wise. I did try to kind of leave space in the bag above the challah so they didn't get to stuck to the bag. Overnight, it kind of soaked in anyway. I think you could also just skip it... I did egg wash for shine, so they were really pretty even pre-glaze!

  2. This was simply delicious and lovely!
    I did the small loaf + the four rolls like you did and it was perfectly cooked in 18 minutes (baked on a silicone mat).
    I had never done more than a 3 strand braid but your instructions were spot-on and it all turned out great!
    It was nice and lightly sweet on its own but was extra special with the frosting (I did add about 2 TB cream cheese to keep the icing thick).
    I will definitely be making this again! Thanks for sharing :)

    1. Oh yes, I wasn't sure when the extra tablespoon of sugar was supposed to be added (?) so I put it in with the salt & flour and it seemed to turn out great!

  3. Wow, cool post. I'd like to write like this too - taking time and real hard work to make a great article... but I put things off too much and never seem to get started. Thanks though. Lemon essential oil