Rich, tender challah bread is a treat on any day, but the distinctive braiding of the loaf might be something you're not quite ready to tackle. Instead, try these pull-apart challah rolls that are tender, rich with eggs, and baked in a regular baking dish.
Don't be deceived by their pretty appearance; there's actually no braiding involved when forming the rolls. In fact, if you can tie a knot, you can make these soft and pillowy rolls!
Keep It Cozy
Warmth is the key to getting a good rise on challah dough, so start with water that's the right temperature, and find a warm place in the house for the dough to rise. If your house veers on the cold side like mine, here's a tip: Heat a mug of water in the microwave for two to three minutes so that the inside of the microwave is nice and steamy, then place the bowl of dough inside. It does the trick every time!
Pull-Apart Challah Rolls
For the dough:
4 to 4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 (1/4-ounce) packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup warm water (between 105°F and 115°F)
1/4 cup neutral-flavored vegetable oil, such as canola
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
For the egg wash:
1 large egg white, at room temperature
2 tablespoons water
Place 4 cups of the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the hook attachment and whisk to combine. (Alternatively, place in a large bowl if kneading by hand.)
Place the water, oil, eggs, and egg yolk in a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Turn the mixer speed onto low, and slowly pour in the egg mixture. Increase the speed to medium-low and beat until the dough is smooth, soft, and holds a ball shape, 8 to 10 minutes. If after 4 minutes the dough doesn't clear the side of the bowl, add more flour a tablespoon at a time until it clears but still sticks to the bottom of the bowl. (If kneading by hand, stir until the dough comes together, then knead on a floured work surface.)
Coat a large bowl with cooking spray. Transfer the dough to the bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until nearly doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
Coat a 9x13-inch baking dish with cooking spray; set aside. Divide the dough into 15 pieces (about 2 1/2 ounces each).
Using your hands, roll 1 piece into a 10-inch-long rope (if the dough is sticky, lightly flour your hands and not the work surface, as that will make it harder to roll). If the rope shrinks a lot as you try to roll it, let it rest for 5 minutes to relax the gluten and then try again.
Tie the rope into a knot. Take the end of the rope that went through the center of the knot, pull it over the side of the knot, and tuck it underneath.
Take the other end of the rope and pull it up and over the side of the knot, then press the end firmly into the center of the knot. Place in the baking dish.
Repeat with the remaining pieces and arrange the rolls in the baking dish, 5 across and 3 down.
Cover with oiled plastic wrap and set aside to rise in a warm place until puffed and about doubled in size, about 1 hour. About 30 minutes before the rolls are ready, arrange a rack in the lower third of the oven and heat to 350°F. Beat the egg white with the water for the egg wash and set aside.
Uncover the rolls and brush with a thin layer of the egg wash. Bake the rolls 15 minutes. Rotate the baking dish from front to back and bake until the bottoms and tops of the rolls are golden-brown, about 15 minutes more (metal baking pans will bake faster than glass or ceramic, so check on them earlier). Place the pan on a wire rack and let cool at least 15 minutes before serving.
- Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. They can also be frozen for up to 2 months.