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+ servings
key shaped challah dough

Shlissel Challah

This is a somewhat controversial custom that we have the week after Passover, to bake a challah in the shape of a key or place an actual key inside your challah.
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Course: Appetizer, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, israeli, Jewish
Keyword: Baking, holiday, Jewish, Rosh Hashana, shabbat
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Rising Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 1 Large key challah
Calories: 1610kcal
Cost: $5


  • Bosch Mixer (preferred) or Kitchen Aid - optional
  • Rolling Pin
  • Bench Scraper
  • Kitchen Scale
  • Pastry brush



  • teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 Tablespoon white sugar
  • 2 cups warm water
  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 1 L egg
  • 1 Tablespoon pink Himalayan salt or sea salt
  • 7-8 cups bread flour or all purpose (1 kilo)


  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 Tablespoon water
  • sesame seeds optional


The Dough

  • In the bowl of your Bosch mixer fitted with the dough hook mix yeast, 1 Tablespoon of sugar and water.
  • Let sit for 5 minutes.
  • And in the rest of the challah ingredients, except for the flour.
  • Add 7 cups of flour (in Israel a 1 kilo bag) and turn your mixer on. Start on low and gradually increase to full speed.
  • If dough is very sticky add flour by the ½ cup.
  • If dough is ok, or even a little sticky, keep mixing for about 5 minutes.
  • Turn off mixer and let dough rest for 3 minutes.
  • After 3 minutes of rest, touch the dough with your fingers. If it is sticky, add flour by the Tablespoon.
  • If dough is not sticky, turn on mixer once more for another 3-4 minutes. The dough should "clean" the sides of the bowl.
  • If the dough is still sticking to the sides of the bowl, add flour by the Tablespoon and continue the mixing, resting until the bowl is clean. This may take some time, be patient.
  • When the dough is the right consistency after letting it rest 2-3 minutes remove it from the mixing bowl on to the counter and form a large ball.


  • Cover the bottom of a large bowl with a little bit of canola oil (no more than 1/2 teaspoon).
  • Place the dough ball into the bowl and coat all sides with the oil from the bottom of the bowl.
  • Cover the bowl loosely with plastic saran wrap and cover that with a large kitchen towel.
  • Leave the dough to rise for 1 hour in a warm space, near the oven or near a window with sun if possible.
  • After 1 hour the dough should have doubled in size. Punch it down gently to deflate some of the air.
  • Cover and let rise another hour.

Braiding: KEY shape

  • Take the dough out of the bowl and set directly on the counter.
  • Using a bench scraper split the dough as follows:
    1 large ball, 3 medium balls and 2 small balls.
    Keep out the largest ball of dough and cover the others.
  • Divide the large ball of dough into 4 even balls (use your kitchen scale for accuracy). And roll them into long strands.
  • Braid the dough using the 4 strand method detailed in my challah post.
  • Pinch the ends together and place challah in the denter of a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper and cover with a towel.
  • Next take out one of the 3 medium balls and divide into 3 very long even strands.
  • Shape these into a long braid. Attach both ends of the braid together to form a circle.
  • Repeat this process with the other 2 medium balls of dough.
  • Place these 3 circle braids on the top of the 4 braid challah on the baking sheet, to form a key shape.
  • Braid the 2 small balls of dough into tiny 3 or 2 braid challahs, as you wish.
  • Place those on the bottom of the 4 braid challah.
  • Place folded tinfoil in between the small braids as well as in the center of the 3 circles so they don't close in on eachother during the baking.
  • Pre-heat oven to 350° and allow braided challah to rise for 20 minutes.


  • In a small bowl whisk together egg yolk and water.
  • Gently brush egg wash onto the whole challah and top with sesame seeds if using.
  • Place tray with challah in the pre-heated oven and bake for 25-35 mintues. Tops and bottoms should be golden brown and if you tap the bottom of the challah it should sound hollow.
  • Turn the challah over and let cool upside down in order to prevent the bottom from getting soggy. You can also let it cool on a wire cooling rack.


Storage: Once completely cooled you can store your challahs in large ziplock bags.
Freezing: These challahs freeze beautifully. Take them out a couple of hours before using and let defrost on the counter.


Calories: 1610kcal | Carbohydrates: 207g | Protein: 64g | Fat: 58g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 979mg | Sodium: 2119mg | Potassium: 693mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 42g | Vitamin A: 1415IU | Calcium: 186mg | Iron: 7mg