Za’atar and Olive Oil Challah

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Making homemade challah is something I do almost every week. There’s nothing I like more than making yeast dough, braid it and serve it for my family. Warm, fresh challah is a treat I simply cannot resist, and it’s been a tradition in our family for years.

This challah is unique in flavor and so fragrant. It’s made with olive oil and Za’atar, which is a Mediterranean dried herb, very common here, and it’s simply delicious. I like to serve it with some fresh ricotta cheese and some carrot and cucumber sticks.

Za’atar and Olive Oil Challah

Photo: Natalie Levin

Za’atar and Olive Oil Challah

For the challah dough:

  • 500 grams (3 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 10 grams (2 tsp.) gluten powder (optional)
  • 10 grams (2 tsp.) active dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 50 ml. (3 tbsp. + 1 tsp.) olive oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 10 grams (1 tbsp.) salt
  • 200-240 ml. (about 1 cup) water (gradually added)

For the filling:

  • 2-3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2-3 tbsp. zaatar

For brushing:

  • 1 beaten egg
  1. In a mixer bowl with dough hook place flour, gluten powder, yeast, honey, olive oil, egg, egg yolk, salt and about 200 ml. of water and knead for about 12-15 minutes until smooth, silky dough is obtained. If the dough seems dry while kneading, gradually add some more water.
  2. Form a ball shape of the dough, put in a large bowl, cover and allow rising for about 1-2 hours or until the volume is doubled.
  3. Divide the dough into 2 pieces and roll each one into a rectangle of about 3-4 mm thick.
  4. Spread 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil on each rectangle, sprinkle with za’atar in a uniform layer and roll into a tight roll.
  5. Cut the roll lengthwise into 2 parts and braid them together. Place the braid in a well-greased Kegelhof pan.
  6. Repeat with the second part of the dough and the remaining filling.
  7. Cover the challahs and allow rising for about 40-60 minutes until almost doubled in volume.
  8. Gently brush the challahs with beaten egg.
  9. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees.
  10. Bake the challahs for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and set.
  11. Cover the hot challahs with a towel, cool completely and serve.
  • Keep the challahs at room temperature, well wrapped for up to two days.
  • If desired, it is possible to freeze the challahs, wrapped neatly for up to a month.
  • The water should be added to the dough gradually, until the dough is soft but not too sticky.