I’m a Jewish Mexican baker and spend lots of time baking either Jewish or Mexican dishes, but never a combination of both. This summer, however, I felt it was time to change that — so I created the “challo:” A slightly sweeter challah bread spiced with churro seasoning (AKA cinnamon sugar) that I like to call my culinary “self portrait.”
Churros are a Mexican culinary staple originating from Spain: fried dough pastry sprinkled in cinnamon sugar. In some places, they’re considered breakfast, in others, snacks, and in the United States, they’re marketed most often as dessert — though I personally think they make a fine replacement for just about any meal.
Since I grew up eating both challah and churros and love them equally, I figured, hey, why couldn’t I turn these into one? After much trial and error, I’m pleased to present the challo (pronounced hallo) — it’s so good you’ll struggle not to finish the entire loaf in one sitting.
Read more about Danielle’s Mexican-Jewish identity and beautiful, culinary creations from our sister site Alma.
- 2/3 cup lukewarm water
- 1 Tbsp dry yeast
- 1 tsp sugar
- 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 eggs, beaten, plus 1 egg yolk (reserve whites for glazing)
- 1/2 Tbsp salt
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup cinnamon sugar, depending on how coated you like your challah
- Dissolve the yeast in the water with the 1 tsp sugar. Stir well and leave for 10-15 minutes to ensure that it foams. If it foams, the yeast is active and you’re good to go. If it doesn’t, simply try another packet or type of yeast.
- In a large bowl, beat the eggs, then add the salt, sugar, and oil and beat again. Add the foamy yeast mixture and mix well.
- Add the flour, one cup at a time. Mix well, first with a large spoon or fork, then work it in with your hands.
- Knead aggressively for about 15 minutes, until it is very smooth and elastic. I like to “smack” the dough onto my working surface as a fun kneading technique. If the dough feels too sticky, add more flour.
- Pour a small amount of oil into the bowl and turn the dough so that it’s greased evenly.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp towel and leave in a warm place to proof for 2-3 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size. You can tell it’s done proofing if, when you poke the dough with your finger, the indent remains and it does not bounce back.
- Once the dough has doubled in size, knead it a second time. At this point, you can either divide into two pieces to make two loaves, or move forward with the dough as one large loaf.
- Braid challah into desired shape and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Make sure there is adequate room for the dough to expand.
- Cover dough in plastic wrap and leave in a warm place to rise for about one hour, or until it’s doubled in size. You can use the proof-ready tip again: Poke it with your finger, and if it leaves an indent it’s ready.
- Brush the bread with the remaining egg whites and sprinkle cinnamon-sugar mixture all over. Coat lightly or generously, depending on personal preference.
- Bake in a preheated 390 degree F oven for 25-30 minutes. If you’re unsure if they’re done baking, tap the bottoms: If they’re baked, the bread will sound hollow.