Are you ready to learn how to make an itty bitty, adorable small-batch challah bread in just a couple of hours? This classic challah dough is super soft and tender thanks to an egg yolk, honey, and olive oil. It's super easy to make too; you don't need a mixer and you can even bake it in a toaster oven.
- 📋 About This Recipe
- 📖 Ingredient Notes
- 🥖 How to Make a Small Batch Challah
- 🥖 How to Braid a Mini Challah
- 🥣 Equipment Notes
- ⏲️ Storage Notes
- Scaling the Recipe Up + Using 1X/2X/3X Buttons
- 🥄 BONUS: Weight to Volume (Cups) Conversion + Instructions
- 💭 Recipe FAQ - Flour types, gluten-free, etc.
- TL;DR — Recipe Summary
- 📖 Recipe
- 💬 Comments
📋 About This Recipe
The small size of this challah is perfect for one or two people to share, great if you live alone and are doing Shabbat by yourself, or for you to share with one other person.
The small size means there's little that goes to waste, and it's ideal if you don't want to use up all your baking ingredients to make one loaf of bread.
Unlike my full-size homemade braided challah recipe which can be made with all-purpose or bread flour, this mini challah really is best made with bread flour. Bread flour has a higher protein (gluten) content than all-purpose flour which gives this mini challah such a wonderfully soft texture.
During recipe testing, I tried using one whole egg in the dough, but the egg white provided too much moisture to also add water to the dough, leaving the dough feeling dry. So instead it uses just the egg yolk plus some olive oil to add fat which makes the dough soft, while the egg white is used for the egg wash at the end. (See? Nothing goes to waste!)
The dough is sweetened with honey and uses just 3 grams (1 teaspoon) of yeast. That's half a packet of yeast, meaning one packet of yeast will make two batches of mini challah, or one mini challah and one of my other mini bread or overnight homemade bread recipes!
📖 Ingredient Notes
You only need a few ingredients to make this adorable small-batch challah recipe! See recipe card (at the end of the blog post) for ingredient quantities. For volume measurements see: Weight to Volume (Cups) Conversion + Instructions.
- Bread Flour - Bread flour has a higher protein (gluten) content than all-purpose flour, giving this mini challah a chewier, softer texture. Bread flour is sometimes also called "high gluten" flour. All purpose flour will also work, your challah just won't be quite as soft and chewy and easy to braid. You may also need to dust down more flour while kneading the dough to prevent sticking since as all-purpose flour is less absorbent than bread flour.
- Salt - Salt doesn't just add flavor to your dough, it helps control the yeast activity. I use the chef-standard Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt which has larger, irregular crystals that dissolve quickly compared to other brands and styles of salt. Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt is is also half as salty as other brands of salt by volume, so make sure you're measuring salt by weight! If you're using a different type or brand of salt and measuring by volume, cut the amount of salt in half.
- Instant Yeast - Sometimes called "rapid rise," "bread machine," or "quick rise" yeast. If you only have active dry yeast, use 4 grams instead and mix it with the water and let it sit for a minute before adding to the dough.
- Water - Lukewarm to slightly warm water, aim for around 90°F. You do not want hot water. Hot water will kill the yeast and scramble the egg.
- Egg - This recipe uses 1 U.S. large egg yolk (17-18 grams) in the dough and the leftover egg white (38-40 grams) to make the egg wash at the end. Eggs are easier to separate when they're cold.
- Olive Oil - A fairly mild flavored olive oil works best for challah dough. Olive oil or extra virgin olive oil will both work just fine here, use whatever you've got in your pantry.
- Honey - Challah is a moderately sweet bread so I like using a robustly flavored, high quality honey to really emphasize that sweetness.
🥖 How to Make a Small Batch Challah
We're following the basic dough mixing process for this mini challah. First, you mix the dry ingredients — flour, salt, and yeast. This helps them disperse evenly so the dough combines smoothly.
Then, pour the warm water, egg yolk, olive oil, and honey into the middle of the dry ingredients. If you want, you can whisk them together in a separate bowl first, but I usually just add them right to the dry ingredients; it's faster and cleaner!
Mix the wet ingredients in the middle of the flour with a fork, gradually incorporating more from the sides until a thick, sticky paste forms in the middle and you can't mix with the fork anymore.
Then, use your hands, a bowl scraper, or a spatula to fold the dough over itself, rotating the bowl as you go, until all of the flour is incorporated. It might still seem quite dry at this stage.
There's not a lot of water in this mini challah, and a lot of the other liquids aren't easy for the flour to absorb. The dough will feel dry at first, but as you work the dough and let it rest, the flour will have plenty of time to hydrate.
Once the dough comes together, it's time to knead it. Kneading is an important step here as it develops the gluten network in the dough, providing strength and structure that will allow you to shape it later.
Knead the dough against the counter for 2-3 minutes. Set a timer to keep yourself honest.
Dust the dough lightly with flour only if it's sticking a lot. The dough should feel slightly tacky to the touch.
Right after kneading, the mini challah dough will have a lightly pockmarked surface and might not be completely smooth. That's okay.
Place the dough back in the mixing bowl and lightly coat with olive oil. Cover the bowl and set aside somewhere warm to rise for 1-2 hours.
During the first rise, this mini challah dough will not double in size. It will hardly change in size at all. But the dough will look smoother and slightly more bright yellow in color.
Here you can see the challah dough before and after rising:
Check the dough after an hour using the fingertip poke test. Gently press a fingertip into the dough.
- If the dough feels soft and indentation fills back in slowly and stops before it fills in completely, it's ready.
- If it feels firm and the indentation fills in immediately and completely, it needs more time.
- If the dough completely deflates when you poke it, it's overproofed. Knead it back into a ball, cover and let it rise 10-15 minutes more, then proceed with the recipe as usual.
If the challah dough needs more time to rise, cover it back up and check again every 15 minutes until it looks right.
FWIW I've been recipe testing this mini challah in a very cold kitchen (65°F), so more often than not it's needed at least an extra 30 minutes.
🥖 How to Braid a Mini Challah
You really can shape or braid this small-batch challah however you want, but I usually do a classic three strand braid.
Don't beat yourself up if braiding the dough doesn't come naturally to you — it will become easier with practice. I've got step-by-step photos to walk you through it and you can also check out the video at the end of this post if you want more visual guidance!
Roll each piece of dough into a short log to start.
Roll the short logs into longer tapered ropes, about 10-11 inches long.
Pinch the ends of the three ropes together. I like to use a bench scraper to hold them in place while I braid the dough.
Alternate crossing the outer ropes over the middle rope until a loose braid has formed. A loose braid will give the ropes room to expand during the final rise.
The more dramatically you tapered the dough ropes, the more dramatic the teardrop-like shape your challah shape will have.
Tuck the pointed ends under the mini challah to round them out. It also prevents them from burning in the oven.
Lightly spritz the outside with non-stick spray. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let it rise for 1 hour at room temperature.
During this final rise, you should see the small-batch challah just about double in size. It should look airy and spring back if you poke it gently. Again, if your kitchen is cold, it may need longer to rise.
Towards the end of the final rise, begin preheating the oven to 350°F.
Whisk together the reserved egg white with a pinch of salt and ¼ teaspoon water. Brush the loaf with the egg wash.
Bake for 15 minutes at 350°F. You're looking for an internal temperature of 195°-200°F for doneness.
Remove the mini challah from the oven, carefully transfer to a cooling rack. Let cool completely before slicing.
🥣 Equipment Notes
You don't need to use all of the same equipment I use to make this baguette bread, but here are the tools I used and recommend:
- Kitchen Scale - I recommend using a kitchen scale to measure the ingredients for this small-batch challah recipe. The ingredient quantities are so small that if you're off by a little bit it can make a big difference in how your challah turns out. (You'll get the best results from pretty much any baking recipe if you measure ingredients by weight.)
- Parchment Paper - I've been using these pre-cut quarter pan parchment sheets lately and can usually get 2-3 uses out of them!
- Bowl Scraper - A plastic bowl scraper makes folding the challah dough in the bowl easy and makes it easy to remove the dough from your mixing bowl.
- Bench Scraper - The flat metal blade of a bench scraper makes dividing dough easy. It can also help you lift the challah after braiding to easily transfer it onto the sheet pan.
- Flour Duster - I always keep flour in a flour duster handy so I can easily dust my counter and dough with flour without it being clumpy or uneven.
⏲️ Storage Notes
This mini challah is best eaten within the first 2 days after baking. You can store it at room temperature for 4-6 days. Storing it in an airtight container like a large resealable bag with as much air pressed out as possible works well for a soft bread like this.
Do not refrigerate bread; the fridge temperature will make it go stale even faster.
This mini challah freezes beautifully. Store it in an airtight plastic bag in the freezer with as much air pressed out of the bag as possible. Reheat from frozen at 300°F for about 10-15 minutes in an oven or toaster oven.
Scaling the Recipe Up + Using 1X/2X/3X Buttons
My recipe card features a helpful 1X/2X/3X button which makes doubling or tripling a recipe super easy. Please know, however, that this only doubles the ingredient quantities on the left side of the ingredients list, it does not change the ingredient quantities in the parentheses to the right of the ingredients, and it does not change the ingredient quantities mentioned in the recipe instructions.
If there are ingredient quantities mentioned in the recipe instructions, you will need to scale this number manually.
When scaling bread recipes, the yeast does not always need to scale up proportionately to the rest of the ingredients. You'll need to figure out the best way to adjust this on your own!
Scaling the recipe up will also not necessarily change the baking time (e.g. if you're making two mini challahs, the baking time won't change, but if you're making a single challah using a 2X or 3X batch of dough it might) so you will need to adjust this yourself too. (And truly, if you're trying to 3X this recipe to make a single challah, save yourself the headache and just make my full size braided challah recipe instead which has all the kinks worked out for you already.)
🥄 BONUS: Weight to Volume (Cups) Conversion + Instructions
I tested and developed this recipe using weight measurements for accuracy. I can't promise how it will turn out if you measure with volume measurements (e.g. cups, teaspoons) because not all measuring cups are the same!
There is no set standard for what "1 cup" of flour weighs — I use 120 grams, but other people (and online conversion calculators) use 130 grams, or even as much as 150 grams which can make a big difference in how a recipe turns out!
I am making a rare exception to provide estimated volume measurements for you here since I've described this recipe as using "1 cup" of flour. **Please read this carefully!!**
- To properly scoop flour in cups: Stir and fluff the flour in your container well so there's plenty of air in it. Use a spoon to gently scoop the flour into the measuring cup, then use the back of a knife to sweep any excess off the top. The cup should feel pretty light and the flour should not be tightly packed into it. Think of it more like a ⅞ths cup.
- To properly measure water: Use a liquid measuring cup. Place it on a flat surface, fill with water just until the water reaches the correct marker when you look at it at eye level.
- To properly measure with measuring spoons: Scoop dry ingredients flat, do not use heaping scoops. Olive oil should not overflow the rim of the measuring spoon.
Here are small-batch challah volume measurements (use at your own risk):
- 1 scant cup bread flour, well aerated and properly scooped
- 1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt (use ½ teaspoon of any other brand or type of salt)
- 1 teaspoon instant yeast (or a slightly heaping teaspoon of active dry yeast)
- 1 large egg, egg and yolk separated
- 3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon of warm water
- 2¼ teaspoons olive oil
- ¾ teaspoon honey
If you use these measurements and your small-batch challah did not turn out right, it's because it is very hard to measure accurately with volume measurements. This is why the recipe did not turn out right. Try again!
💭 Recipe FAQ - Flour types, gluten-free, etc.
I haven't tested any gluten free flours. I know that certain brands of 1-for-1 gluten free flour do work for bread recipes, but I'm not sure which ones they are. If you do use a 1-for-1 gluten free flour and are successful, please leave a comment sharing which brand you used!
Whole wheat flour and almond flour will not work. Neither one can support the gluten formation necessary to make challah bread. Whole wheat flour contains the bran, which cuts through the gluten strands, making it hard to build strength into this dough. Almond flour is simply ground almonds, it doesn't have anything in it that will help it develop gluten or give this challah dough structure.
TL;DR — Recipe Summary
- Mix the flour, salt, and yeast. Add the egg yolk, honey, olive oil, water and mix with a fork until a sticky dough forms. Switch to a bench scraper or spatula and fold the dough over itself until combined.
- Knead the dough on the counter for 2 minutes.
- Cover and rest (bulk ferment) for 1-1½ hours in a warm spot.
- Divide the dough into three equal pieces, and roll them into tapered ropes about 11 inches long. Braid the ropes loosely, leaving space for the ropes to expand as the loaf rises.
- Cover the mini challah with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour in a warm spot until almost doubled in size.
- Brush the challah lightly all over with egg wash.
- Bake for 15 minutes at 350°F.
- Let cool completely before serving.
Mini Challah Bread (Small Batch Challah)
- 1 large egg white
- ⅛ teaspoon salt (optional)
- ¼ teaspoon water
- Prep. In one bowl, whisk together bread flour, salt, and instant yeast. In another, whisk together water, egg yolk, honey, and olive oil.
- Mix. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients into the center and use a fork to whisk well, gradually incorporating more flour from the sides of the bowl until a thick paste forms. Switch to your hands, a bowl scraper, or spatula and fold the dough over itself, rotating the bowl as you go until all the flour is incorporated and you have a fairly dry but cohesive mass of dough in the bowl.
- Knead. Turn the dough out onto a clean countertop and knead for 2-3 minutes (set a timer!) dusting in flour lightly only if needed. The dough should feel slightly tacky to the touch but not sticky.
- Rise. Shape the dough into a ball, coat lightly with olive oil, and place back in the mixing bowl. Cover the bowl and rest in a warm spot for 1-2 hours. The dough will not double in size; to check if it's ready to shape, press a finger into it. If the indentation fills back in slowly but then stops and remains visible, it's ready. If it fills back in immediately and completely, check again every 15 minutes until it's ready.
- Divide and Pre-Shape. Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces using your kitchen scale (each piece should be about 70 grams). Gently flatten each piece against the counter, stacking any smaller pieces on top of larger ones. Working with one piece at a time, roll the dough into a short, thick log.
- Roll Ropes. Starting with the first log of dough, roll each one into a tapered rope about 11 inches long. Try to keep the "seam" of the dough against the counter so that it seals shut.
- Braid. Join the ends of the three ropes of dough together at one end, pinching to seal. Use the heel of a bench scraper to weigh them down against the counter and hold them in place while you braid. Braid the challah loosely, leaving room for the ropes to expand and fill in during the final rise. Pinch the other end shut, then tuck the joined ends under and place on a parchment lined sheet pan.
- Rise. Lightly spritz the top of the challah with non-stick spray or brush with olive oil, then cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm spot for 1 hour. During this rise, the mini challah will double in size and should spring back slightly when you poke it.
During the final 30 minutes of the rise time, preheat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the middle of the oven.
- Egg Wash. In a small bowl whisk together the reserved egg white with a pinch of salt and ¼ teaspoon water. Brush a thin layer of egg wash all over the surface of the mini challah, making sure to get the sides and into the creases.
- Bake. Bake in the center of a 350°F oven for 15 minutes until golden brown all over, though it may still be pale where the ropes intersect. You're looking for an internal temperature of 195°-200°F for doneness.
- Cool. Remove from the oven and let the mini challah cool before slicing or serving.
- You can use this dough to make a round spiral challah, four-strand braided challah, four-strand braided round challah, or any other braided challah shape without needing to adjust the baking time.