Blue Ribbon Challah


Side Dish
Blue Ribbon Challah

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    Enjoy these rich braided loaves with a sweet poppy seed filling for the holidays, special celebrations or anytime during the year. This recipe makes three loaves. If you have extras, just freeze for another time.

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    Servings and Ingredients

    Serves 48
    ½ c. packed Hy-Vee light brown sugar
    2 package(s) (1/4-oz.) instant dry yeast
    1 tbsp. Hy-Vee salt
    1 ¾ c. warm water (110°F to 115°F)
    5 Hy-Vee eggs, at room temperature, divided
    ½ c. Hy-Vee unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
    7 ¾ c. Hy-Vee unbleached all-purpose flour
    1 can(s) (12.5-oz.) Solo poppy seed cake & pastry filling
    ⅓ c. plus 1 Tbsp. Hy-Vee honey
    1 c. finely chopped Hy-Vee walnuts
    2 tbsp. Hy-Vee whole milk or water
    ¾ tsp. poppy seed
    Hy-Vee salted butter, for serving

    Things To Grab

    • 6-qt. mixing bowl
    • Stand mixer with paddle attachment
    • Whisk
    • 3 small bowls
    • Hy-Vee vegetable oil cooking spray
    • Large bowl
    • Plastic wrap
    • Medium bowl
    • Wooden spoon
    • 2 large baking sheets
    • Parchment paper
    • Spoon
    • Pastry brush
    • Foil
    • Wire racks


    1. Place brown sugar, yeast and salt in a 6-qt. mixing bowl of a stand mixer. Stir in warm water; let stand for 5 to 10 minutes or until bubbles form. Attach paddle attachment to mixer.

    2. Lightly whisk together 4 eggs. Add 4 beaten eggs and ½ cup butter to yeast mixture. Slowly beat in 6 cups flour on medium-low, scraping side of bowl as needed. Change paddle to a dough hook attachment; slowly beat in 1 cup flour. Increase to medium and continue beating for 3 to 4 minutes or until a soft but sticky dough forms.

    3. Spray a large bowl with cooking spray; set aside. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in enough remaining 3/4 cup flour to make a moderately stiff dough that is smooth and elastic (6 to 8 minutes total). Shape dough into a ball. Place in prepared bowl; turn over to grease surface of dough. Spray one side of plastic wrap with cooking spray; cover dough loosely with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place for 45 to 60 minutes or until doubled in size.

    4. Meanwhile, for the filling, stir together poppy seed filling and honey in a medium bowl until combined; stir in walnuts and set aside. Whisk together remaining 1 egg and milk in a small bowl; set egg wash aside.

    5. Once dough is doubled, gently push fist into dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Cover with greased plastic wrap; let rest at room temperature for 10 minutes.

    6. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Lightly spray parchment with cooking spray; set aside. Divide dough into 3 equal portions. Set 2 portions aside. Transfer 1 portion to a lightly floured surface and divide it into thirds. Roll each piece into a 14x4-in. rectangle. Spread about 3 Tbsp. poppy seed mixture down center of each dough rectangle to within 3/4-in. of edges. Starting from a long side, tightly roll up each into a log. Brush the long edge of each log with egg wash and pinch to seal. Gently roll the logs so seam sides are down; pinch ends together to seal and tuck under. Transfer and line up the 3 logs, about 1 in. apart, on a prepared baking sheet. Cover with greased plastic wrap and set aside.

    7. Repeat dividing, filling and shaping 6 more logs with remaining 2 dough portions; transfer logs to prepared baking sheets. (One baking sheet will have 6 logs; the other will have 3 logs.) For each loaf, press together the 3 logs at one end. Braid logs; press together logs at other end. Tuck ends underneath. Cover with greased plastic wrap; let rise in warm place for 30 to 45 minutes or until very puffy.

    8. Place oven racks in the upper and lower third of the oven; preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    9. Uncover braided loaves. Gently brush loaves with egg wash. Sprinkle with poppy seed. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove bread from oven; loosely cover with foil. Switch and rotate baking sheets on oven racks. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes more or until golden brown and internal temperature reaches 195 degrees to 200 degrees. (Bread should sound hollow when tapped.) Cool slightly on baking sheets set on wire racks. Transfer loaves to wire racks and cool completely. Slice and serve with salted butter.

    Nutrition facts


    160 Calories per serving

    Amounts Per Serving

    • Total Fat: 5g
    • Cholesterol: 25mg
    • Sodium: 160mg
    • Total Carbohydrates: 24g
    • Protein: 4g

    Daily Values

    Iron 6%
    Calcium 4%
    Vitamin D 0%
    Potassium 2%

    Recipe Source:

    Iowa Historical Jewish Society