Growing up, my grandmother made us mini challah rolls, perfect for sandwiches, dipping into soups, and mopping up sauces. They were always a crowd favorite at family dinners—we loved choosing among plain, sesame seeds, or poppy seeds toppings. They are now a staple in my own home. I keep a bag of baked challah rolls in the freezer, perfect for having the taste of homemade bread any day of the week.
This isn’t your average dinner roll! It starts with a classic challah dough, but it's shaped into small knotted rolls. Though making challah dough can feel like a daunting task, with a little bit of planning, it’s easier than you think.
Knead to Know
Proofing yeast is a key part of bread making, and getting a beautifully risen roll. When the yeast doesn’t properly activate, you'll get dense and flat pucks. Not only does yeast help the bread rise, thanks to the release of carbon dioxide, it also gives it an incredible aroma and flavor.
The first thing to do when making bread is to test your yeast by mixing it with lukewarm water and something sweet, like sugar or honey, what I use here. Give it approximately 5 minutes to bloom. If your mixture becomes frothy and bubbly, your yeast is good to go! If not, you may need fresher yeast. Be sure to check the best before date on the package.
It's Normal For the Dough To Be Wet
This dough will be vert sticky, yet smooth and elastic. It may feel a little too wet, but don’t add more flour. After its first rise, it’ll become easier to work with. Still too sticky? Sprinkle a little bit of flour onto your counter—start with about 1 tablespoon. You don't want to add too much flour to the dough.
Be Patient While the Dough Proofs
The secret to great challah is a warm place to proof your dough and a little patience. Proofing is an important step you should not skip. I place the bowl of dough right next to my oven or on the back burner of the stove top while the oven preheats. For the first rise, let the dough proof until doubled in size and then again for a shorter time after you shape them into rolls.
Two Ways to Freeze Challah Rolls
If you want to plan ahead, there are two ways to freeze the challah rolls:
Freeze unbaked rolls: After you shape the rolls, but before you do the second rise, pop the unbaked rolls in the freezer until frozen solid. Then, transfer them into a large zip top freezer bag for up to 2 months. When you’re ready to bake them, place the frozen rolls on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and allow them to thaw overnight in the fridge. Then, take them out of the fridge and allow them to come to room temperature and rise for 30 to 45 minutes. Give them an egg wash and bake!
Freeze baked rolls: Bake the challah rolls and cool them fully. Transfer them into a zip top freezer bag and freeze them for up to 2 months. Defrost them at room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes before enjoying!
Roll With It
For the dough
2/3 cup warm water
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 package) instant yeast
1/4 cup honey
2 large eggs, at room temperature
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 3/4 cups (450g) bread flour, plus more for shaping
1 teaspoon kosher salt
For the egg wash
1 large egg, whisked
1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup sesame seeds or poppy seeds
Proof the yeast:
Stir the warm water, yeast, and honey in a bowl of a stand mixer. Let sit for 5 minutes. The yeast should be fragrant and appear foamy—this means the yeast is active. If it does not, you will need to start over with fresher yeast.
Make the dough:
Add the eggs and 3 tablespoons olive oil to the yeast mixture. Mix with a fork to combine. Add the flour and salt. Attach the dough hook and knead on low speed for 8 to 10 minutes until the dough gathers around the dough hook and no longer stick to the bowl. It will be a little tacky and sticky, resist the urge to add more flour!
Proof the dough:
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel, and let proof for an hour to an hour 30 minutes, until doubled in size.
While the dough is proofing, line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Shape the dough:
Lightly flour a clean work surface. Scrape the dough onto it and use a sharp knife to divide the dough into 12 equal pieces. I use a kitchen scale to ensure they are all the same size, but feel free to estimate.
While shaping, keep the dough under a clean kitchen towel until ready to shape. Use both hands to roll a piece of dough into a 12-inch rope. Start on one end and coil it into a spiral, tucking the end underneath and pinching to seal. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough.
Cover the baking sheet with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and let rise for 15 to 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F.
Make the egg wash:
In a small bowl, whisk the egg and water. Using a pastry brush, paint the egg wash on each roll. Sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds, if using.
Bake the rolls:
Bake the rolls for 18 to 24 minutes, turning the baking sheet once halfway through. Bake until golden brown. If using a thermometer to check for doneness, it should read 190°F to 195°F.
Let cool before serving.
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|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 5g||7%|
|Saturated Fat 1g||5%|
|Total Carbohydrate 33g||12%|
|Dietary Fiber 1g||4%|
|Total Sugars 6g|
|Vitamin C 0mg||0%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|