Cranberry and walnut challah bread

Not yet rated

Izy Hossack uses her favourite flavour combination of walnuts and cranberries for this Cranberry and walnut challah bread, sprinkled with pearl sugar. Leftovers (if any!) will make for a fab breakfast.

I always love baking with enriched doughs - they’re super soft, shiny and slightly sticky. Usually making this type of bread involves adding butter, milk, eggs and sugar to a simple base mixture to create a supple and sweet dough which bakes up to a feather-light texture. Brioche is a prime example of this. Whilst I do enjoy brioche, I tend to find that this recipe challah (or ‘chollah’) bread is actually easier to make and handle (brioche dough can be extremely sticky and hard to knead by hand) whilst still having the same soft texture. Using vegetable oil instead of butter cuts out a bit of work - no melting or softening of butter required - and makes it a bit cheaper too.

One of my favourite flavour combinations in bread is cranberries and walnuts. After having them together in a sourdough loaf from a bakery I became obsessed! I used fresh Cape Cod select cranberries here by cooking them down with sugar until thickened, set this mixture in the fridge and cut it into small squares which were then incorporated into the loaf. Doing this added sticky, jammy bursts of flavour throughout the loaf which contrasted with the sweetness of the bread and the crunch of the walnuts. Taking inspiration from loaves of challah my mum used to occasionally buy, I also sprinkled some pearl sugar onto the egg-washed dough for decoration. That step is totally optional but it does mean that if you happen to use the challah to make French toast/eggy bread the sugar will caramelise on the outside and make for the best breakfast you’ve ever had.




Cranberry filling


  • 7g of fast-action dried yeast
  • 60g of granulated sugar
  • 125ml of water, warm
  • 625g of plain flour, or bread flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 125ml of milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 40g of vegetable oil, or 50g melted butter, plus a bit extra for greasing
  • 60g of walnut halves, chopped

To finish

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 handful of nib sugar, or crushed sugar cubes (optional)


To make the cranberry filling, place the ingredients into a small pot and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring often, until it is very thick. Spread the mixture out onto a lightly oiled plate and place in the fridge to cool and set
To make the dough, dissolve the yeast in the water with 1 tbsp of the sugar. Set aside. In a large bowl combine the remaining sugar, flour and salt
Make a well in the centre of these dry ingredients and pour in the yeast mixture, milk, oil and crack in the eggs. Stir together until a few floury patches remain
Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for about 10 minutes until it is smooth and slightly sticky
Pour a little bit of oil into the bowl you were using before and use your hands to coat the inside of the bowl with it. Place the dough into the oiled bowl, cover loosely with cling film and leave in a warm place for an hour to rise
Once the dough is doubled in volume, tip it out onto a lightly floured work surface
Divide into three equal pieces. Roll one piece of dough out into a 30cm long oblong
Scatter 1/3 of the cranberry filling and the walnuts evenly over the surface of the dough then roll it up (like a Swiss roll) into a 30 cm long snake. Repeat with the other two pieces of dough
Plait the three snakes of dough together into a loaf and place onto a baking tray lined with baking paper (you'll probably have to lay it down diagonally across the tray to fit). Leave in a warm place to rise for 30 minutes whilst you preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4
Brush the risen dough with the beaten egg to glaze it and scatter on the pearl sugar. Bake for 30-40 minutes until well risen and deep golden. Leave to cool completely before slicing

Izy is a student living in London, who spends her spare time blogging and photographing. She recently finished writing her first cookbook, Top With Cinnamon.

Get in touch

Please sign in or register to send a comment to Great British Chefs.