Challah Rolls

If you think smoked salmon with a shmear of cream cheese tastes pretty good on a bagel, then you really ought to try some on a challah roll. 

That’s the way I learned to eat smoked salmon, or, “lox” as we called it back in the day. Of course we had bagels too. But nothing beat those challah rolls. There isn’t a bread on earth as delicious as challah. And so, anything as awesome as lox or smoked salmon or whatever you call it that’s good on a bagel is equally good and probably better if you eat it on challah, or challah rolls, which are, after all, nothing more than mini challahs. They are unlike any other kind of roll except perhaps for brioche. Challah rolls are dense and thick and really there aren’t enough wonderful words for them.

As I said, I learned to eat lox and cream cheese on challah rolls when I was a youngster and my parents and our extended family spent many a Christmas vacation at Helferd’s Hotel in Lakewood, New Jersey. That’s how Helferd’s served smoked fish at breakfast. My cousin Leslie and I still talk about it and marvel about how delicious those rolls were.

So I made some the other day using my challah recipe, which, I have to say, is so, so delicious. My grandmother once won a prize for the recipe.

I actually made a double recipe of these and froze most of them. 

If you want to make challah rolls, check out the photos. Here are the basic shaping instructions:

First: cut the dough into 12 equal strands about 10-inches long.

Second: working with one strand at a time, make a medium-size loop with two long strand lengths remaining at the bottom.

Third: take the strand length on the left and tuck it under the loop; then bring it up slightly through the loop.

Fourth: take the strand length on the right and bring it over the loop, tucking it into the center.

Fifth: brush the rolls with egg wash (see the recipe) and bake. You’ll have 12 rolls that look like the one in the last photo.

Challah Rolls

  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water (about 105 degrees; feels slightly warm to touch)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, approximately
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup warm water (about 105 degrees)

In a small bowl, mix the yeast, 1/4 cup water, 1/2 teaspoon sugar and a pinch of flour. Stir and set aside for about 5 minutes or until the mixture is bubbly. While the yeast is resting, place 3-1/2 cups flour with the remaining sugar and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer with a dough hook. Add 2 of the eggs, the vegetable oil and the 3/4 cup water. Mix, using the dough hook until well combined. Add the yeast mixture and blend in thoroughly. Knead for about 3-4 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Add more flour as needed to make the dough smooth and soft, but not overly sticky.

Cover the bowl and let the dough rise in a warm place for about 1-1/2 hours or until doubled in bulk. Punch the dough down, cover the bowl and let rise again for about 45 minutes or until doubled in bulk. Remove the dough to a floured surface.

Cut the dough into 12 pieces. Make 10-inch long strands out of each piece. Working with one strand at a time, make a loop at the top, leaving 2 stand lengths on the bottom left and right. Take the strand length on left and the bring it under the loop, then lift it through the loop slightly. Take the strand length on the right and bring it on top of the loop and tuck it in. Repeat with all the strands. Place the rolls on the cookie sheet. Beat the last egg. Brush the surface of each roll with some of the egg. Let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.

While the dough is in the last rise, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the rolls for about 20 minutes or until firm and golden brown.

Makes 12