Recipe: Challah with preserved lemon and za’atar

Give the Friday night favourite a zesty edge

  • place PRE 15 minutes plus roughly 1.5 hours rising and proving time
  • place COOK 22 minutes
  • place SERVES Makes: 3 loaves
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This recipe can be adapted to suit the foods you’re serving it with, but the combination of preserved lemon and za’atar here is truly special, and the smell when it comes out of the oven is irresistible.


  • Pour the water into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook and crumble in the fresh yeast. (If using dried yeast, then it needs to be activated in water before being added. To activate it, place in a bowl with 50 ml of the total amount of water until bubbles start to appear.)

  • Add the flour, eggs, sugar, salt and melted butter, and mix on a slow speed for 4 minutes, until incorporated.

  • Add the chopped preserved lemons, increase the speed and mix for another 5 minutes until the dough is elastic.

  • Roll the dough into a ball and place it in a clean, oiled bowl, cover with a dish towel. Let it rise at room temperature for 40 minutes, or until doubled in size.

  • Divide it into thirds and divide each third into three pieces. Roll each piece until 25 cm long, then braid. To do this, on a clean surface, position three lengths of dough side by side and press the lengths together at the end furthest away from you so they hold in one piece. Braid the lengths into a plait, then press the bottom ends together to seal. Repeat with the remaining dough to make three loaves.

  • Arrange the three challah on a three baking sheets, cover with a dish towel and leave to prove in a warm place for 35 minutes or until doubled in size.

  • Preheat oven to 170°C. Brush the risen loaves with beaten egg and sprinkle 1 tablespoon of za’atar on each loaf. Bake for about 22 minutes, or until they are golden brown. Let the loaves cool for at least 1 hour before eating.

    * If you want to make your own preserved lemons you will find Oded’s recipe here.

Recipe adapted from Oren by Oded Oren (Hardie Grant)


320ml lukewarm water
30g fresh yeast (or 15g active dried yeast)
800g plain flour
2 large eggs, plus an extra egg (beaten) for egg wash
80g caster sugar
2 1/8 tsp fine sea salt
60g unsalted butter, melted
90g preserved lemon, roughly chopped
3 tbsp za’atar, to sprinkle

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