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almond croissant challah recipe
Photo credit Johanna Rothenberg

Almond Croissant Breakfast Challah Recipe

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5 from 6 reviews

With swirls of citrus-infused butter and homemade marzipan.

  • Total Time: 3 hours 25 minutes
  • Yield: 1 large challah, 10-12 servings


For the challah:

  • 1 cup warm water (see notes)
  • 1 Tbsp + 1 ½ tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 500 g bread flour (roughly 4 cups), plus more for kneading
  • 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing bowl

For the marzipan: 

  • 1 ½ cups almond flour
  • 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp almond extract
  • 2 tsp disaronno liquor or rum
  • 2 pinches kosher salt
  • 3 Tbsp water (see note)

For the citrus butter:

  • 1 stick (113 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • zest of 2 large tangerines/clementines, roughly 2 heaping tsp
  • 1 Tbsp bread flour

For the topping:

  • 1 egg yolk
  • ½ tsp water
  • sliced almonds, for topping
  • powdered sugar, for finishing (optional)


  1. Start by making the challah dough: In a small bowl, combine warm water, yeast and 1 tsp sugar. Mix well and let it rest about 5 minutes, or until yeast has bloomed/foamed up. (If your yeast has not bloomed/foamed up by this point, your water was too warm or your yeast is dead.)
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, kosher salt and ¼ cup sugar. Mix well to combine. 
  3. Add the eggs, olive oil and yeast/water mixture. Stir with a dough whisk or wooden spoon to create a rough, shaggy dough. 
  4. Pour the dough onto a clean kitchen counter and begin kneading the dough by pushing the dough with the palm of your hands, dragging it forward on the counter, and then folding it back over itself. Give it a quarter turn between each knead. 
  5. Depending on the weather, the dough may be sticky, so add a little additional flour as you knead (anywhere from ¼ -⅓ cup), until the dough is slightly smooth and supple, but still has a little tackiness left. 
  6. Lightly coat your mixing bowl in a few tablespoons of olive oil. Put the dough in the bowl and give it a little swirl around. Flip the dough over so all sides have been covered with oil. 
  7. Wrap the bowl in plastic wrap, cover in a towel, and let the dough rise in a warm place for 45 minutes, until the dough has doubled in size. 
  8. After 45 minutes, fold and punch the dough dough four times, giving the dough a quarter turn between each fold and punch. 
  9. Cover the dough back up and allow it to rise another 35 minutes. While the dough rises, make the citrus butter: In a small bowl, combine the soft (but not melted) butter and clementine zest until fully incorporated. Add the flour and mix until fully combined. Set aside. 
  10. While the dough continues to rise, make the marzipan: In a bowl of a food processor, combine the almond flour, powdered sugar, almond extract, liquor/rum and kosher salt. 
  11. Pulse the processor a few good whirls until the ingredients are fully combined. 
  12. With the processor running on low, slowly drizzle in the water and let it mix until the marzipan forms. The consistency should be spreadable, but not dry. Place marzipan in a bowl and set aside. 
  13. Preheat your oven to 350°F. 
  14. To assemble your challah, start by dividing the dough in half, sprinkle it with flour and cover with a towel. Allow the dough to rest for 5 minutes. 
  15. Lightly flour the counter and roll out the first piece of dough into a 13×20 rectangle. (The dough will be rolled out very thin, that’s what you want.) Position the dough so the long part of the dough (20”) is parallel to the edge of your counter.
  16. Dot the dough with half of the citrus butter mixture. Using an offset spatula or butter knife, very carefully spread the butter all over the dough in an even layer. Do not leave a border. 
  17. Dot the dough with half of the marzipan. Using an offset spatula or butter knife, very carefully spread the marzipan over the butter into an even layer. Do not leave a border. 
  18. Carefully roll the dough snugly towards you (like making cinnamon buns) until you have a long rope. 
  19. Set the dough rope aside and repeat the process with the other half of dough and filling. 
  20. Twist the two dough ropes together and secure them to each other, creating a circle.
  21. Place the challah in a well greased angel food cake pan, cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled. To make sure the dough is ready, poke the dough with your finger, when the dough doesn’t spring back, it’s fully proofed (about 15-25 minutes). 
  22. Combine the egg yolk and ½ tsp water in a bowl and mix together. Brush the challah with the egg wash and allow it to dry for 1 minute. Brush on a second layer and scatter generously with sliced almonds. 
  23. Bake for 35-40 minutes until deeply golden. If parts of the top begin burning or turn too dark before the challah is finished baking, loosely top those areas with small pieces of aluminum foil while the challah continues baking. 
  24. Remove the challah from the oven and allow it to cool for 10 minutes. 
  25. Carefully turn the challah out from the pan onto a cooling rack. Allow it to cool thoroughly before serving. (Optional) before serving, lightly sprinkle the top with powdered sugar. 


  1. The temperature of the water should be delicately warm enough as for a baby’s bath. For those of you who don’t make it a habit of bathing babies; place a finger to the bottom of the cup of warm water. Keep it there a few moments. If it feels nicely warm without an “ouch” sensation, the water is the proper temperature.
  2. If your marzipan feels a little too dry (it can happen, weather depending) add ½ Tbsp more water and blend it in.
  3. If you don’t have an angel food cake pan (which is a tube pan with a flat bottom), you can use a Bundt pan. The inner ring of metal in these pans is essential for baking success because it allows airflow and heat to get to the center of the challah and create an even bake.  
  • Author: Johanna Rothenberg
  • Prep Time: 2 hours 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Ashkenazi