Wednesday, February 28, 2024 -
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Cornbread challah, tested

Ahead of Thanksgiving, this week’s IJN features several fall-themed recipes and an article about the Sephardic Jewish love of pumpkin.
Cornbread Challah

Cornbread Challah

One of the recipes is Paula Shoyer’s cornbread challah, which we decided to test out. A few things to keep in mind: If you don’t have bread flour to hand (we didn’t) and are using regular flour, be prepared to use more. We recommend increasing the flour amount by 1/2 cup, but keep the container nearby. You may find that you’ll need more. The dough is very soft, which is presumably why it calls for bread flour, which has a higher gluten content.
Another tip: We split the dough in half as instructed, but formed one half into rolls to serve with Thanksgiving dinner. At 2 oz. per roll, half the dough made about 9 rolls.

Cornbread Challah


  • 2 envelopes 1/2 oz. active dry yeast
  • 1/3 C warm water
  • 2/3 C plus 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 C warm water
  • 1/2 C oil plus 1 tsp. for greasing bowl
  • 2 large eggs plus 1 to glaze tops
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 3/4 C bread flour plus 2 TB for sprinkling
  • 1 1/2 C yellow corn meal
  • 2 TB pumpkin seeds


  1. In a mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast into the 1/3 cup warm water and mix in the teaspoon sugar. Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes, or until it thickens. Meanwhile, in a separate medium bowl combine the 2/3 cup sugar, salt, bread flour and corn meal. Set aside.
  2. When the yeast is thick, add the oil, 2 eggs and warm water and mix well with a whisk. Add the dry ingredients and mix well with the dough hook of a stand mixer or with a wooden spoon. Sprinkle 1 tbsp. flour on your counter and place the dough on top. Knead until you have a mostly smooth dough, adding another tablespoon of flour if necessary.
  3. Grease the bowl with the remaining 1 tsp. oil and return the dough to the bowl and rub your oiled hand on top of the dough. Cover with a dish towel and let rise for 1 hour.
  4. Divide the dough in half and shape each piece into a three-braided challah. Place loaves on a parchment- or Silpat-covered baking sheet and let rise for 45 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  6. Place the remaining egg into a small bowl and add a little less than 1 tsp. water and beat well. Brush on top of the loaves and sprinkle the pumpkin seeds on top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until golden. 

    Yield: 2 medium loaves.

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