Sweet & Savory Challah Rolls

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There’s no denying that a beautiful golden loaf of braided or round challah is a highlight on the table, raising spirits in delicious anticipation. But these rolls—or mini challahs, as I like to think of them—have their own charms. They are enticing little packages that stay soft and tender and give each recipient that delightful opportunity to be the first to tear into a warm, delicate challah. They make lovely gifts. And, in our pandemic times. individual portions like these might help make any small social-distanced gatherings you might have a little safer.

Round challahs, of course, anchor the Rosh Hashanah table as symbols of the continuity of life, and when also sweet, hope for a sweet new year. Knotted or coiled round challah rolls fulfill that duty nicely. And because the dough itself is not sweetened or flavored but rather gets its flavor profile from the topping, you can create both sweet and savory versions within a single batch—my favorite way to make them, because I always want both kinds. This also gives everyone the chance to personalize. Let household members shape and top their rolls and later enjoy that special feeling of ownership at their finished work.

For sweet versions, especially for Rosh Hashanah, a generous topping of cinnamon-sugar is lovely on its own. But if you want more, a jelly with apple and cinnamon (such as Stonewall Kitchen’s cinnamon apple jelly) nestled into an indent in the bread adds sweet, light apple flavor, especially as it oozes over the top of the roll when baking (apple butter might also work, but I haven’t tried it). Fig jam is also decadently delicious but its intensity can overwhelm the nice flavor of the bread, so use it sparingly. If you love raisins, work some into the dough as you roll out the strands.

Savory versions, which also make excellent sandwiches with leftover holiday brisket, equally entice. My favorites include a combination of za’atar and flaky sea salt and also toasted sesame, but honestly, there wasn’t a single one I didn’t love.

For making these and most other yeasted doughs, I recommend making the dough the night before and letting it rise overnight in the refrigerator. Not only does this free you to continue the next day whenever you are ready, it develops better flavor in the bread. After the overnight rise, just set the dough out at room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes before proceeding with the recipe.

These little rolls make me happy, and I hope they bring joy to your kitchen, dinner, and holiday tables as well.



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