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 glean on the outside and a soft, springy, almost trampoline-like consistency on the inside, there are some important differences that separate 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 Rosh Hashanah, and it is considered a crucial part of the meal, as it serves a specific religious purpose, depending on the holiday. 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. Eat it plain, top it with your favorite spread, or use it the next day for French toast.
Brioche, on the other hand, is a French bread. Unlike challah, brioche is loaded with butter, giving it its discernibly light 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. 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.
Looking for some recipe inspiration? Check out these recipes to switch up your daily bread repertoire.
The Very Best Brioche
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 recipe.
Vegan Chocolate Brioche Muffins
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 recipe.
Overnight Pull-Apart Brioche Cinnamon Roll Bread
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 recipe.
Salted Caramel Brioche Doughnuts
These bite-sized goodies are piped with salted caramel pastry cream, then rolled in caster sugar. Get the recipe.
Simple Challah Bread
Once you’ve got the braiding down (this recipe calls for braiding with six long strands!), challah couldn’t be easier to make. Get the recipe.
Stuffed Challah with Apple Butter and Walnuts
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. Get the recipe.
Challah French Toast
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. Get the recipe.
Old Fashioned Challah Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce
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 finished off with a whiskey and sugar-based gloss. Get the recipe.
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