GCBS Recipes and Tips

Braided Challah with Homemade Butter and Apple Butter

This holiday-themed Technical Bake is a braided challah that also makes for a beautiful centrepiece.

This holiday-themed Technical Bake is a braided challah that also makes for a beautiful centrepiece

A loaf of braided challah topped with sesame seeds on a wooden cutting board.
This traditional Jewish braided bread was the Technical Bake on the first ever Great Canadian Holiday Baking Show. (Geoff George)

Do not let this intricate, golden loaf intimidate you. It is much easier to do a 6-strand braid than you might think — and it’s certainly worth learning if you are working on upping your bread game. It will be a beautiful and delicious centrepiece on any holiday table — if it makes it out of the kitchen before everyone eats it. Freshly baked bread is irresistible, and this challah is no exception.



  • 1 ¼ cups warm water, divided
  • ⅓ cup sugar, divided
  • 1 pkg (8 g) active dry yeast
  • 5 cups flour
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 5 egg yolk, room temperature
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Maldon salt for sprinkling
  • Sesame seeds for sprinkling

Apple Butter

  • 900 g (about 4) McIntosh apples, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 900 g (about 4) Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and chopped
  • ½ cup water
  • ⅓ cup lightly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1½ tsp kosher salt
  • 1½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¾ tsp ground cinnamon


Stir 1/4 cup water,1 tbsp sugar and yeast together in a small bowl and set aside until frothy, about 10 minutes.

Whisk together flour, remaining sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk together the remaining water, oil and yolks in a medium bowl. Add both the yeast and egg mixture to the flour. With a wooden spoon, stir together to form a ragged dough and place on stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Knead for 7 min on medium-low. Alternatively, knead by hand until a smooth dough forms, about 10-12 minutes.

Divide the dough into six portions, pinch bottoms and roll into balls. Place into an oiled casserole dish or pan; turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean, lightly dampened kitchen towel and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Turn the dough balls onto a lightly floured surface and punch down. Roll into 17-inch long ropes. Pinch together one end of the ropes. Starting with the outside right rope, fold it gently over the first two ropes, under the middle rope and over the last two, pulling the rope gently to the left. Repeat with the remaining ropes, working from the right side and ending on the left. Pinch and tuck together the rope ends and place gently on prepared sheet.

Cover lightly with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.  Heat oven to 375F degrees.

Brush gently with beaten egg and sprinkle with additional salt and sesame seeds.  Bake until bread is a deep golden brown, about 45 minutes.

For Apple Butter:

Place the apples, water, sugar, salt, cinnamon and ginger in a large saucepan and cook over medium heat until apples are soft and begin to break down, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.

Process the apples through a food mill, pour mixture into a wide, shallow sauté pan and continue to cook until mixture thickens and begins to darken, about 1 hour and 30 minutes.

For Butter:

Pour the cold cream into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whisk on high for 10 to 12 minutes, until the mixture separates into butter and buttermilk. Strain the buttermilk and reserve for a later use. Stir or knead salt into butter.

Yield: One loaf