The ultimate sweet bread— braided challah stuffed with a swirled cinnamon-walnut filling.
My Dad always says on the ski slopes— if you’re not falling, you’re not learning.
That phrase continues to motivate me, both on and off the slopes. For example, some days I have big flops in the kitchen. Cakes don’t rise, pies don’t set, and genius ideas don’t pan out. These fails are always frustrating, but it’s a good reminder that I still have stuff to learn.
Plus, those flops make the successes so much sweeter. Pulling this beautiful loaf of cinnamon-walnut stuffed challah bread from the oven after a few failed attempts has been a highlight of my week.
I mean, look at that loaf!
I imagine the chocolate variation is amazing, but I may never find out because the combination of cinnamon and walnuts in this loaf is all I could ever want. Imagine the best sticky bun, or cinnamon roll, or flavored challah you’ve ever had, and then you’re pretty close to what this is.
It needs no embellishment, enjoy slices just as they are, and at any time of day— breakfast, dessert, and everything in between.
That being said, this bread would make a killer french toast. If slices stick around that long.
baking tip:What is enriched yeast bread?
Enriched breads refer to those that are higher in fat than other breads due to more eggs, butter, and/or milk . Because of their higher fat content the dough is very soft and delicate, and often molded and baked in pans. Braiding also helps the enriched dough hold its shape during baking.
Examples of enriched yeast breads are challah, brioche, and babka/baba.
Cinnamon-Walnut Stuffed Challah Bread
For the dough:
- ½ cup whole milk (118 ml)
- ¼ cup honey (85 grams)
- ½ cup unsalted butter (113 grams)
- 3 cups all-purpose flour (360 grams)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 envelope active-dry yeast (2 ¼ teaspoons, 7 grams)
- 2 large eggs
For the filling:
- ½ cup unsalted butter , at room temperature (113 grams)
- ¾ cup packed light or dark brown sugar (160 grams)
- 2 cups walnuts , finely chopped (226 grams)
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
To prepare the dough:
- Combine the milk, honey and butter in a small saucepan set over medium heat. Warm just until butter is melted. Remove from heat and let cool 5 minutes, or until it is between 120-130° F.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook (you can also use a large bowl and mix by hand), combine 2 cups of the flour, the salt, cinnamon and yeast. Add the milk mixture and mix until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each.
- Add the remaining flour a few tablespoons at a time, letting it incorporate into the dough before adding more. When all the flour has been added, the dough should be very soft, but still clear the sides of the bowl. If necessary, add a few more tablespoons of flour. Continue to knead the dough for about 5 more minutes until it's smooth and elastic.
- Carefully place the dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour. Gently punch down the dough to release gases and knead a few more times by hand.
To assemble the stuffed challah:
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a handheld mixer, combine the butter, brown sugar, walnuts and cinnamon and mix until smooth. Mixture should be crumbly.
- Divide the dough into 3 pieces. Working with each piece individually, place dough on a well-floured surface and roll into an approximate 12x6-inch rectangle. Sprinkle one third of the walnut mixture on top of the dough. Starting at one long end, tightly roll up the dough and carefully transfer to a sheet pan lined with parchment paper, seam side-down. Repeat with remaining 2 pieces of dough.
- When you have finished rolling up all 3 pieces of stuffed dough, braid them together on the sheet pan, tucking the ends under. Cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled again, about 30-45 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350° F. Make an egg wash with 1 large egg and a teaspoon of water and brush on the loaf. Bake until golden, about 35-40 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes before transferring from sheet pan.
- Bread is best the day it is baked, but will keep in an airtight container for a few days.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Diamond of California as part of a long-term culinary ambassadorship. Thank you for supporting partnerships with brands I love and believe in, which make Completely Delicious possible. All opinions are always 100% my own.