Believe it or not, Rosh Hashanah will be here in just one month, so from this point on I’ll be sharing holiday recipes, starting with this round raisin challah with sweet crumb topping.

It’s traditional to use round challahs for Rosh Hashanah, to represent the cycle of life. It’s also customary to eat sweet foods at this time, to symbolize our desire for a sweet year ahead, hence the raisins and sweet crumb topping.

Make the dough according to the directions below. Use a large bowl, because this yields six loaves, and the dough needs enough space to double in size.

When the dough has risen, punch it down and let it rest for 10 minutes before doing the mitzvah of separating challah. Say the blessing, separate a small piece of dough, and set it aside to burn after the challah has finished baking. For more about this mitzvah, and a step-by-step guide, watch this quick do-it-yourself clip.

Now divide the dough into six relatively equal pieces. Each of the six pieces will make one challah. Roll each piece into one long “snake” (pictured). Press the raisins along the dough, then roll it up from one end, until you have a circle. Tuck the end underneath. Alternatively, you can first make each of the six pieces into a braided challah, and then roll the braid into a circle. If you’re feeling particularly brave and experimental, you can try this fancy circle braid!

Put the challahs on greased baking trays, brush with egg and sprinkle with the crumb topping. Let them rise another 40 minutes and then bake at 375° F until golden brown, approximately 45 minutes.

Traditionally, at Shabbat and holiday meals, we dip the challah into salt. But from Rosh Hashanah until the end of Sukkot, we dip it in honey instead. Enjoy!

For a beautiful article about the tradition of using round challah, see here.

If you are new to baking challah, I outlined the process in greater detail (with step-by-step pictures) here. It may help you to read that first.

Dough Ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp. dry yeast
  • 5 cups very warm water
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1¼ cup honey
  • 1 cup oil (canola or light olive oil)
  • 2 tbsp. salt
  • Approximately 18 cups flour
  • 1 cup raisins

For the egg wash:

  • 1 egg

For the crumb topping

  • ½ cup flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 5 tbsp. oil


  1. In a very large bowl, dissolve yeast in 2 cups warm water and let sit about 15–20 minutes until slightly frothy.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and half the flour. Mix until a loose batter forms. Add the rest of the flour a couple of cups at a time, until the dough is soft but not sticky. Knead.
  3. Cover the dough with a wet towel or plastic wrap and put it in a warm place to rise for about 1½ hours. Dough should double in size.
  4. Punch the dough down and let it rest for 10 minutes. Divide into 6 equal pieces.
  5. Roll according to pictures and directions above. Place loaves on lightly greased cookie sheets and let rise for another 40 minutes.
  6. Make the sweet crumb topping by putting the flour and sugar into a bowl. Slowly add the vanilla and oil, mixing with a spoon, or your fingertips until you it reaches crumb consistency.
  7. Egg wash the loaves and sprinkle with crumb topping. Bake at 375° F for approximately 45 minutes. Loaves should be golden brown and firm on the bottom.

Do you have a special topping or ingredient that you add to your Rosh Hashanah challah?