Poppy Seed Challah

The month of March was just not very productive for me in any segment of my life… After shredding a part of my finger early in the month, I didn’t have much desire to cook, bake or type. Lack of sunshine and warmth took its toll… I was so hoping for spring to come and all we got was snow and bitter cold. As I write this it’s still cold out, but the sun is shining, the trees and flowers are budding and it makes such a difference. I also took a few days off from work to spend with my family and to do the things I love – bake and paint.

Poppy seed challah

I really missed getting my hands sticky with dough and having the aroma of fresh baked goods around the house. All I could think of was to bake something good, warm and familiar and nothing sounded better than this challah bread topped with poppy seeds. Every bakery in Bosnia sells this bread. Their sizes range anywhere from a small knot, to an individual size challah to a large family challah. For me, it is an essential part of a good breakfast! It can be eaten just plain or spread with butter, jam, honey, paté or anything you may like. It can be used for a sandwich or for the bread pudding. It looks great on a holiday table!

I painted this while taking a break from baking
I painted this while taking a break from baking

Poppy Seed Challah

{print recipe}


  • 500 g (4 cups) all-purpose flour (+ flour for kneading)
  • 21 g (0.7 oz) fresh yeast
  • 1 TBSP sugar
  • 200 ml (3/4 cup + 2 TBSP) warm water
  • 1 egg
  • 50 ml (about 1/4 cup) sunflower or vegetable oil
  • ½ TBSP salt
  • Milk for brushing
  • 2 TSBP poppy seeds


  1. Place the flour in a mixing bowl. Make a deep indent in flour, add 1 TBSP of sugar and crumble up the yeast. Lightly mixing by hand, add ¼ of the quantity of water. Mix only inside the indent, just to get a small ball of starter. Cover and let it rest for about 10 minutes.
  2. Combine the rest of the water with oil, egg and salt and stir well. Put the flour bowl back on the mixer and mixing at a slow speed start adding the liquid. Switch to medium speed setting and mix for about 3-, rest for about 3- and then mix for 3 more minutes.
  3. Dough will look nice and smooth. Cover it and let it rest for 30 minutes.
  4. Lightly dust your working surface with flour and knead the dough by hand for a few minutes. Divide the dough into 3 or 4 pieces, depending on what you want to make, a three- or four-strand challah.
  5. Shape each piece into a foot long strand. Transfer all the pieces onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Braid the strands to form a challah. Cover the bread and let it rest and rise for about 30 minutes.
  6. Brush the bread with milk and sprinkle with poppy seeds.
  7. Bake at 200 C or 395 F for about 35-40 minutes or until challah gets a nice,  golden-brown color.

***More about shaping a four-strand challah here.

Proofing yeast for challah dough
Proofing yeast for challah dough

Making challah dough

Making challag

Poppy Seed Challah

Poppy Seed Challah

Poppy Seed Challah

Poppy Seed Challah

Poppy Seed Challah

Poppy Seed Challah


36 thoughts on “Poppy Seed Challah

  1. Sibella, you are the second of my food blogging friends to have had a serious finger accident. So sorry you had to suffer through that. Your Poppy Seed Challah bread is gorgeous. Thank you for sharing your recipe.

  2. Welcome back…very sorry to hear of your injury. Having your hands back in the dough must be real therapy as your challah is picture perfect.

  3. So sorry to hear about your shredded finger – ouch! Glad you’re getting your hands sticky with dough – that bread looks divine! ❤

  4. Sibella I don’t know what I love better your beautiful painting or your challah bread they are both very stunning. I know the agony with your finger. I could not get my finger wet for a month, 2 visits to urgent care as could not get it to stop bleeding. However, just yesterday, I got right back at it and used the evil mandolin to make my veggie crisps. I was so nervous I was almost shuddering but I had to beat my fear.

    1. Hi Bobby! Thanks so much! I didn’t end up going to the doctor, but I had a hard time to stop the bleeding too and it was so darn painful. I started using my mandolin too, but I am very, very careful and always feel uneasy when I hold it in my hands.

  5. Stay happy and enjoy the spring! This winter was just too long for everybody. I enjoy your writing and your pictures a lot Awesome blog! Sretno!

  6. Ah, I wish I had the baking talent that you have. Gorgeous loaves… actually, everything you bake looks like it’s come from a bread shop! You have a very lucky family. I’m looking forward to trying some of your methods to see whether I have any better results (I’ve experienced very mixed results with bread. So frustrating). Thanks for sharing 🙂

  7. So glad to have you visit. I loved what I saw here but I was secretly taking time out from uni work so I didn’t manage to comment much 🙂 I love the idea of challah and have been wanting to make it since forever ago. You’ve really inspired me to make it REALLY soon 🙂

    1. Thank you Jas! Gluten free is definitely healthier, I still haven’t worked up the courage to try gluten free baking… You can always try to substitute ingredients and see how it turns out.
      My friend April at glutenfreezen.com has some great gluten free recipes. 🙂

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