Sourdough Challah Snails

sourdough challah snacks on a plate

The Spruce / Leah Maroney

  • Total: 55 mins
  • Prep: 35 mins
  • Cook: 20 mins
  • Rising: 8 hrs
  • Servings: 12 servings
  • Yields: 12 rolls

Challah snails made from sourdough are the perfect little rolls to add to your holiday (or weeknight) dinner table. Eggy, slightly sweet challah is traditionally served for shabbat and Jewish holidays (though not Passover, when leavened bread products are prohibited), but this little snail shape is often made during Rosh Hashanah to represent the cycle of the year. The tops are brushed with honey to symbolize a sweet start to a new year.

You can enjoy these anytime of the year though. This recipe is an easy bread to make and is a great way to use up sourdough discard. If you don’t have a starter, you can make your own or use the directions below for regular yeast.

Ingredients

  • For the Dough:
  • 1/2 cup freshly-fed sourdough starter
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups bread flour
  • For the Filling and Topping:
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg 
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • Sesame seeds, for topping

Steps to Make It

Note: while there are multiple steps to this recipe, this dish is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for preparation and cooking.

Make the Dough

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    sourdough challah ingredients.
  2. Add the sourdough starter, water, whole eggs, egg yolks, honey, vegetable oil, and salt into the bowl of your stand mixer. Whisk together until all the ingredients are combined.

    sourdough starter and eggs mixed in a bowl
  3. Gradually add in the flour while stirring with a spatula or a bread dough hook and mix until the flour is mostly moistened and forms a shaggy dough.

    sourdough challah dough
  4. Add the bowl to your stand mixer and use the dough hook attachment. Knead for 10 to 12 minutes on medium speed until the dough is smooth, elastic, and has pulled away from the sides of the bowl.

    sourdough challah kneaded dough in a bowl
  5. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled in size. This can take anywhere between 4 and 8 hours depending on your starter.

    risen sourdough challah dough in a bowl
  6. Punch down the dough and separate into 12 equal-sized balls.

    sourdough challah dough balls

Make the Filling and Assemble the Rolls

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    tahini sugar filling
  2. Stir together the tahini, brown sugar, egg, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl.

    tahini sugar mixed in a bowl
  3. Roll each ball into a flat circle using a rolling pin on top of a piece of parchment paper.

    dough ball rolled into a flat round
  4. Add a tablespoon or two of the tahini filling to the dough. 

    dough topped with tahini filling
  5. Roll the dough over the filling, into a log shape.

    dough rolled into a log
  6. Curl the dough into a snail shape and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Cover the sheet pan with a towel or plastic wrap and allow to rise for another hour in a warm space. Preheat the oven to 400 F.

    challah dough rolled into a snail
  7. Whisk together the egg, honey, and 1 teaspoon water. Brush the top of each of the rolls with the egg wash mixture, then sprinkle with sesame seeds (or another seed of your choice).

    sourdough challah rolls on a baking sheet
  8. Bake the rolls in the preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown and firm. Allow to cool, then slice and serve. 

    challah rolls baked on a sheet pan

Dry Active Yeast Version:

    Recipe Variations

    • If you don’t have bread flour, just use all all-purpose flour. 
    • Make sure to use a mild oil unless you are looking for a stronger flavor. If you don’t mind the olive oil flavor you can use olive oil. 
    • Honey works for the best flavor and texture, but you can substitute regular sugar if you don’t have it available.
    • To make with active dry yeast: If you don’t have sourdough starter, don't worry. Simply use 2 teaspoons of active dry yeast and increase the water in the dough to 1 1/4 cups. Allow to rise to double (this will take considerably less time, think an hour or so) and follow the rest of the directions as written.

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