The first bread I ever learned to make was challah. In making it, I learned about enriched dough, how to 4-strand braid, and the importance of an egg wash. It’s a really great bread for beginner bakers. But if you’re looking for something just a step above in fun and flavor, try this cinnamon praline stuffed challah.
I love having challah for breakfast and brunch. Whether that’s as French toast, served on the side, or topped with a fried egg, it’s always a treat. For this version, I really wanted the bread itself to be the star.
This post contains affiliate links, which means I will earn a commission if you click through and buy something, at no additional cost to you!
Luckily, it’s not hard to make challah shine. The enriched dough means it’s a heavier and sweeter type of yeast bread, with a higher fat content. Enriched dough breads are fun because you can more easily mold and shape them, like cinnamon rolls, or a traditional challah braid.
I normally would make a four- or five-strand braid when baking regular challah. However, with the filling, it’s much easier to work with only three strands here. Once braided, challah always looks impressive. If you’re looking for something to spice up your tablescaping, a challah loaf will definitely do the trick. Plus the secret to that dark color? An egg yolk wash just before baking. Don’t forget that step!
For the filling, I wanted it to be substantial, but also delicious. I knew that including in nuts would add in a little bit of protein, which would help the challah stand on its own. I decided on pralines, because they are a type of nut I’ve always enjoyed eating but never made before.
Since the base bread was something I’ve made many times, I was okay with the challenge of making pralines for the first time. Adding one new skill with a recipe is a fun, but achievable, way to expand your cooking skills, without getting overwhelmed.
Cinnamon Praline Stuffed Challah
- 1 cup Water
- 2 Tbsp + 1 tsp Sugar divided
- 1 Tbsp Instant Yeast
- 3.5 Cups Bread Flour, plus more for kneading
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Cinnamon
- 2 Eggs + 1 yolk for egg wash
- 2 Tbsp Honey
- 1/3 Cup Vegetable Oil
- 1 Heaping Cup Chopped pecans
- 4 Tbsp Butter
- 1/3 Cup Brown Sugar packed
- 2 Tbsp Heavy Cream
- In a small heat proof bowl, microwave the water for about 30 seconds, or until it reaches a temperature of 105-115 F. Stir in 1 tsp of sugar, and then sprinkle the yeast on top. Let sit for five minutes to proof. In another small bowl, whisk the two eggs with the honey and oil.
- Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer, add the flour, remaining sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Mix together with a paddle attachment on low until combined, about 30 seconds.
- Add the yeast and egg mixtures to the flour, and mix using a dough hook attachment until combined and it starts pulling away from the edges of the bowl, about 5-7 minutes. You may need to add more flour if the mixture looks very wet, but it should be sticky. Add 2 Tbsp flour at a time if needed.
- Transfer the dough to a large oiled bowl, and cover with a dish towel. Set aside in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1-2 hours.
- Towards the end of the rising time, prepare the praline filling: In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Then add the pecans and brown sugar, and toast, stirring frequently for about 2-3 minutes. Turn off the heat. Add in the cream, and stir in until combined.
- With lightly oiled hands, press down the challah dough, and then transfer to a lightly floured work surface. Turn the dough by folding it in half and kneading gently a few times. Separate the dough into three equal sized pieces.
- Flatten one of the pieces into a rectangle about 18x3 inches. Add a third of the praline filling in a stripe down the middle lengthwise, leaving about a half inch border at each end. Then fold in the edges and seal into a strand. Place seam side down on a parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat with the other two pieces. Braid together the three strands, tucking the ends under.
- Cover with a dish towel, and let rise for 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375F while it's rising. Then, brush the top with the remaining egg yolk. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown and the internal temperature reads 190F.
- Let rest for about 10-15 minutes before cutting. Serve warm, with butter or cinnamon sugar.
- Make Ahead Tip: Once fully cooled, you can store it at room temperature, wrapped in plastic wrap for about 2 days. Microwave individual slices for 10-20 seconds before serving.
- Braiding Challah: To do a simple braid, lay the three strands side by side. Bring the left piece over the middle and then bring the right piece over the new middle. Repeat until you reach the end, and the tuck the loose ends underneath. With challah, I like to start in the middle, and then braid toward the ends, but you can start at one end if that's easier.