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What is the difference between challah and brioche? We’ll slice up the similarities and differences between these two fluffy yeast bread loaves.
If you’re not familiar with the intricacies of challah and brioche, you might hold both up and think, “Hm, these breads look pretty similar.” But upon closer inspection, you’ll discover that that’s not quite the case. While they both may have that shiny gleam on the outside and a soft, springy, almost trampoline-like consistency on the inside, there are some important differences that set these two breads apart.
To start, challah is a kosher Jewish bread. It’s typically eaten on ceremonial and religious occasions, like during Shabbat and on Jewish holidays like Rosh Hashanah. It is considered a crucial part of the meal, as it serves a specific religious purpose, depending on the holiday; while the loaves are often oblong, for certain occasions (like Rosh Hashanah), they are made into circular shapes instead.
As far as bread-making goes, the process and ingredients are pretty straightforward: All it takes is eggs, flour, water, sugar, yeast, and salt. After it’s braided together into one long strand, it’s baked in the oven, creating a dark brown exterior and a noticeably yellow color on the inside (because of all the eggs in the dough).
It’s finished off with an egg wash, giving it that shiny, glossy finish, and sometimes topped with poppy seeds or sesame seeds. Eat it plain, top it with your favorite spread, or use it the next day for French toast.
Related Reading: The Complete Guide to Quick Breads
Brioche, on the other hand, is a French bread. Unlike challah, brioche is loaded with butter, giving it its discernibly light, fluffy texture and sweet taste.
Brioche is often associated with viennoiserie because it chemically resembles a combination of both bread and pastry–packed with eggs, butter, milk, cream, flour, and sometimes sugar, it’s arguably the best mix of savory and sweet in bread form. It is also a yeasted dough, as you can tell by the lofty heights it achieves, whether it’s made into a plain loaf, buns, or sweet pastries.
In France, brioche tends to be served on its own in slices, or paired with a bit of butter and homemade jam. The French often bake it with bits of chocolate or dried fruit, but it’s just as good plain.
Challah & Brioche Recipes
Looking for some recipe inspiration? Check out these recipes to switch up your daily bread repertoire.
Once you’ve got the braiding down (this recipe calls for braiding with six long strands!), challah couldn’t be easier to make. We use a double egg wash and poppy seeds, but you can also skip the seeds if you prefer. Get our Challah recipe.
Instead of making traditional challah, opt for this elevated version, which calls for spreading the rolled out dough with a mixture of apple butter and chopped walnuts before braiding and forming into a circular loaf. Get the Stuffed Challah with Apple Butter and Walnuts recipe.
The best thing about making challah? Having leftovers to make French toast the next morning. Challah is one of the better breads to make French toast with because of its naturally eggy texture–so just soak slices in milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and eggs and fry it on the stove. Our version includes orange zest in the dough and a strawberry-orange topping. Get our Challah French Toast recipe.
Grilled cheese is great on airy slices of challah that crisp up in the pan–and even better if you add pan-fried buffalo chicken and blue cheese sauce to the mix. There’s smoked gouda too. Get our Buffalo Chicken Grilled Cheese recipe.
Bread pudding is like a more decadent version of French toast–just baked in the oven and with a lot more sugar. This recipe switches up the more traditional version for one that incorporates roasted peaches and dulce de leche–but in the fall, you can swap in roasted apples or pears instead, and maybe add some toasted walnuts or pecans. Get our Roasted Peach and Dulce de Leche Bread Pudding.
Once you let the dough rise, brioche is pretty straightforward to make. This recipe comes out super flaky and light, with a crisp golden crust and soft inside. Get the Best Brioche Bread recipe.
These swirls of butter and chocolate are the best things to wake up to in the morning. Bake them in a muffin tin to ensure perfectly rounded bottoms. Get the Vegan Chocolate Brioche Muffin recipe.
The best thing about pull-apart bread? Being able to have at it with your fingers. This version combines brown sugar and cinnamon for the filling, and the whole thing is drizzled with a cream cheese-based frosting. Get the Overnight Pull-Apart Brioche Cinnamon Roll Bread recipe.
Header image by Chowhound, using photos from Shutterstock