Turban Challah for Rosh Hashanah

Turban Challah for Rosh Hashanah

Our children were all adopted as babies, and because they have ancestors from all over the world, we have been known to celebrate a variety of holidays and foods including making Jewish Challah. And just in time for the Jewish New Year today, our oldest son got an ethnic update from Ancestry.com letting him know that his heritage is 31% European Jewish.

The Alder family Christmas 2012

Tonight at sundown, the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah begins. According to Chabad.org

“The festival of Rosh Hashanah—the name means ‘Head of the Year’—is observed for two days beginning on… the first day of the Jewish year. It is the anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve, the first man and woman, and their first actions toward the realization of mankind’s role in G‑d‘s world.”

Food is an important part of the holiday as Chabad described and Challah is usually part of that celebration:

“Additional Rosh Hashanah observances include:
a) Eating a piece of apple dipped in honey to symbolize our desire for a sweet year, and other special foods symbolic of the new year’s blessings.
b) Blessing one another with the words Leshanah tovah tikateiv veteichateim, ‘May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.’
c) Tashlich, a special prayer said near a body of water (an ocean, river, pond, etc.) in evocation of the verse, ‘And You shall cast their sins into the depths of the sea.’
And as with every major Jewish holiday, after candlelighting and prayers we recite Kiddush and make a blessing on the Challah.”


This sourdough challah, in a turban shape, is from “Challah done two ways from the same dough (Jewish New Year’s loaf AND a braided challah)” at  BreadIn5

To bless the Challah, you’ve got to bake one, but instead of the braided Sourdough Challah that we shared with you last December, this Challah is rounded into a turban. 

However, since the Sabbath begins at sundown on Friday, you will have to get to work on this early in the day. Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François in their  New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day explained that the round, turban-shape represents the continuity of life or the beginning of a new year through its end.

The bread is sometimes baked with raisins rolled into the dough. Pictured here is Hertzberg and François’ turban close-up.

But they have chosen to cover the top in sesame seeds. However, it is most often brushed with honey to symbolize the hope for a sweeter new year.

Many who celebrate the holiday dip slices in honey or drizzle it over the top of the bread; these folks often continue to use honey, rather than keeping salt on the table per Leviticus 2:13, through the Sukkoth holiday

Sourdough Challah Recipe*


Active Start

  • 1/3 cup sourdough starter
  • 1 cup bread flour
  • 3/4 cup water



  1. Mix an active start with the water to dissolve
  2. Stir in the flour and cover overnight, but allow at least 8–12 hours for full fermentation.
  3. It should be light and bubbly when ready.


  • 1/4 cup (60 grams) water
  • 3 large eggs
  • (1 one more egg will be needed for the final egg wash)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (8 grams)  sea salt
  • 1/4 cup (55 grams) olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons (65 grams) honey or a 1/3 cup (60 grams) raw sugar
  • 3 cups (400 grams) bread flour
  • 1 cup of active sourdough starter


  1. In a large bowl, whisk the water, 3 eggs, salt, oil, and sweetener together until combined
  2. If using a stand mixer, mix in all the bread flour until combined and let the mixture rest for 30 min.
  3. Then add a cup of the active pre-ferment and run the mixer on a low setting 6–8 minutes until the dough is smooth but firm and coming away from the sides of the bowl.
    If doing this by hand, once the ingredients are well-mixed, let it rest for 30 minutes.
    Then scrape it onto your work surface, add the starter, and knead it until the dough is smooth and elastic, but no more than 10 minutes.
  4. Either way, this dough is very firm but should feel smooth and be easy to knead.
    The Fresh Loaf suggests, “If the dough is too firm to knead easily, add a tablespoon or two of water to it; if it seems too wet, add a few tablespoons flour.”
  5. After the dough is mixed, let it ferment for 2 hours covered with plastic wrap in a warm location.

*You may also use this Sourdough Brioche Roll recipe for the dough.

Since both the braided Challah and this one use the same recipe,  the only instruction you will need is this about how to shape it from BreadIn5:

“Put the loaf on a cookie sheet prepared with shortening or parchment paper, or …a silicone pad, which can go straight into the oven with or without the support of a cookie sheet. 

“Allow the loaf to rest for an hour and 20 minutes, then bake at 350°F (175°C) for about 30 minutes, until nicely browned (larger loaves will take more time). “

Tell us about your favorite sourdough Jewish sourdough bread recipe in the comment section below.

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