I’ve been searching far and wide for the perfect challah recipe and I think my prayers have finally been answered! After too many failed attempts trying to make a light and fluffy sweet challah, I gave up for a while and started buying my favorite grocery store option (Challah Fairy). But nothing beats the smell of homemade challah baking in the oven, so I tried and tried again and here I am with this perfect luscious brown butter challah recipe with layer after layer of sweet fluffy bread! The added flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg and lavender take it to another level all together and I know I have found my signature challah. I’m going to assume you don’t have lavender sugar on your spice shelf so here is a link to Whole Spice, where you can find this fragrant purple sugar as well as hundreds of other high quality kosher spices and herbs. You can leave out the lavender or even add some orange or lemon zest to make this recipe your own, but I suggest using the lavender since it really adds something special to the challah.
Cinnamon-Lavender Brown Butter Challah Ingredients
2 3/4 cups + 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 stick unsalted margarine, room temperature
1/3 cup soy milk
1/4 cup water
2 eggs, room temperature
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar
3 tsp lavender sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of ground nutmeg
1/2 stick unsalted margarine, melted until brown
2 tsp ground cinnamon
In a bowl of a stand mixer, I combined 2 cups flour, sugar, yeast and salt and set it aside. I then whisked the eggs in a small bowl and set that aside as well.
In a small saucepan, I melted 1/2 stick of margarine and milk over medium-low heat until just melted. I removed the pan from the heat, added the water and vanilla extract then cooled the mixture to 115 degrees.
I added the remaining 3/4 cup flour and stirred on low-medium speed for about 2 minutes. The dough was fairly sticky and I placed it in to a lightly greased bowl, covered with a towel and let rise until doubled, around 1 hour.
I melted the remaining margarine on low heat until just browned and set it aside. Be careful not to burn the margarine, so stir as it cooks and as you see the color begin to change, take the saucepan off of the stove and transfer to a clean bowl, where the margarine will continue to cook a little bit until perfectly brown.
I removed the risen dough from the bowl, punched it down and kneaded in 2 Tbsp of flour. I covered the dough with a towel and let it rest for 5 minutes. On a lightly floured surface, I rolled out the dough using a rolling pin in to a 20×12-inch rectangle.
I brushed on the margarine then sprinkled evenly with the cinnamon-lavender-sugar mixture.
Now comes the fun and tricky part. I sliced the dough in to 6 mostly-even strips and stacked the strips on top of each other. I then sliced the stacks in to 6 equal squares.
I covered the pan and let it rise until double, around 30-45 minutes. I heated the oven to 350 degrees and baked for 35 minutes, until the top of the challah was a deep, dark brown. My layers were unruly and all I could do was laugh! I’m sure it will look different every time I make it.
I removed the challah from the oven and allowed it to cool in the pan for 20 minutes. I then ran a butter knife along the edges of the pan to loosen the loaf, then inverted and inverted again to cool completely right-side-up. Check out those gooey sweet layers!
This challah is delicious served warm or room temperature! Each layer gives off the aroma and flavors of cinnamon and lavender and the cooked sugar creates a gooey crust along the bottom. If this recipe is too sweet for you, you can either serve it for desert or leave out the filling for 36 layers of delicious airy challah. Enjoy!