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Whilst browsing the loaves at a local bakery you may have encountered challah and brioche bread. Whilst they are shaped differently, they are very similar in colour and texture. Additionally, you may have heard about both types of bread often being recommended for the perfect French toast. Naturally then, you may be wondering, challah vs brioche, what’s the difference?
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Challah vs Brioche: What Are They? How Are They Different?
In order to distinguish the difference between challah bread and brioche, it is important to know what each one is. Whilst they may look somewhat similar, they both have their own origins and cultural differences.
What is Challah Bread
Challah bread is a type of bread that has deep ties to the Jewish religion. A loaf or braid of challah bread is a common sight during many Jewish holidays. However, often the bread dough will be shaped in order to make a braided ring in these contexts.
As a result of the religious heritage of challah bread, it is kosher. As such it doesn’t contain dairy products such as butter or milk. This leaves a simple ingredient list of flour, eggs, water, salt, yeast and sugar/honey. Additionally, the outside of the loaf will be given an egg wash to provide the dough with its distinct colouration. Following which it will be topped with either sesame seeds or poppy seeds.
What Does Challah Taste Like?
Challah is quite orange on the inside due to the large number of eggs used in making the dough. However, it has a very light and crumbly texture. This is combined with the mildly sweet taste provided by the honey makes it a treat to eat by itself. However, it is also delicious with a spread such as honey or jam or on the side of a savoury meal.
What is Brioche
Brioche is a bread that comes from France that is incredibly versatile. As such, whilst, Brioche can be formed into regular loaves it is often used to make pastry-like buns or rolls as well.
Brioche loaves contain flour, eggs, water, salt, yeast and sugar/honey in the recipe, along with butter, milk and cream. Like with challah bread, the outside of the loaf will be washed with eggs, giving it a similar dark colouration. Following the eggwash though, brioche is often coated in salt.
What Does Brioche Taste Like?
Brioche is quite sweet, especially so for bread. However, this sweetness isn’t overpowering like it can be when high fructose corn syrup is added to bread dough. Instead, it strikes just the right balance of sweetness and savouriness. This means that it can be perfect for either burger buns or a slathering of Nutella.
Difference Between Challah And Brioche
There are many obvious similarities between challah and brioche. For example, both loaves are washed in eggs to give them a dark exterior and have a sweet taste. Additionally, both types of loaf will be separated into sections only to be rearranged before baking.
The difference, however, is that challah will be arranged as braids whilst brioche is arranged as rows in a bread pan. Additionally, whilst both types of bread are sweeter than average, brioche is noticeably sweeter than challah. However, since honey is often used for making challah it often has a mild honey taste as well.
Due to its origins in Jewish tradition, challah also uses fewer ingredients as it exorcises dairy entirely. As a result, brioche is often considered to be more creamy and flaky than challah. The use of more eggs in challah also gives the inside an orange colour whilst brioche will typically be white.
Challah bread is a delicious type of bread with a mild honey sweetness and light texture. As such it can be eaten in many different ways and still be delicious. However, here are some favourites:
- Honey or Jam Spread: Whilst there is already a hint of honey present, spreading some or some on jam will complement the flavour. Additionally, topping it with some nuts will elevate this even further.
- French Toast: Or eggy bread as many also know it is a popular choice when it comes to challah bread. This is for good reason as the soft bread is an excellent accompaniment to the eggs.
- Bread Pudding: Like with any loaf, it will eventually go stale. However, when you start to notice this, you will be able to make a particularly delicious bread pudding from it.
- Sandwiches and Toasties: Like with any other kind of bread, challah can be used for sandwiches and toasties. When accompanied with milder ingredients, this can make for a brilliant light lunch.
- Plain: traditionally during Jewish festivals challah will be eaten plain. However, whilst this may be somewhat bland with other bread, this is not the case for challah due to its light texture and honey-sweet taste. For a bit of extra creaminess though, spreading some butter will make it extra tasty.
Like with challah, brioche can be used in a variety of ways and a multitude of different dishes. However, the wider variety of options for types of brioche bread inevitably makes it more versatile. Below are some examples:
- Burgers: Brioche buns make for excellent burgers, whether using beef or chicken patties. The light and sweet buns provide an excellent contrast with the savoury taste of the meat, onions, cheese, tomato and lettuce.
- Hot dogs: like burgers, brioche hot dog buns will provide an excellent flavour contrast between the meat and bun.
- Sandwiches and toasties: The stronger flavour of brioche compared to that of challah makes it ideal for stronger sandwich ingredients. I good idea is to look at other french food for inspiration such as stilton and caramelised onions.
- Bread pudding: like with challah, stale brioche can be used for making a particularly sweet bread pudding.
- French toast: The two bread types people talk about regarding French toast. Naturally though, when making French this sweet bread from France should be an obvious choice.
Challah and brioche have many similarities but are ultimately very distinct types of bread. Some may use them interchangeably, however, such as when making French toast. The main taste difference is that brioche is slightly sweeter than challah. The biggest difference though is that these breads come from very different cultures. As such Challah is kosher whilst Brioche certainly is not.
Is Brioche Or Challah Better For French Toast?
Both brioche and challah are great choices for French toast. Whilst both options are sweet, brioche is sweeter though. As such if after something more savoury, challah is the better option whilst brioche will be for those after a sweet.
What Bread Is Closest To Brioche?
Challah bread is probably the closest alternative to brioche in terms of both appearance and taste. However, challah isn’t quite as sweet and is typically shaped like a braid.
Is Brioche Sweeter Than Challah?
Brioche is often considered to be sweeter than challah. As such it will typically be used for both savoury and sweet dishes whilst challah is more commonly used for savoury. However, challah is also quite sweet so is perfectly suitable for sweeter dishes too.
Can You Substitute Brioche For Challah?
Brioche can very easily be used substituted for challah. In fact, for those who are Jewish or lactose intolerant, challah may be the best alternative. However, be careful when using brioche instead of challah as the latter is kosher whilst the former certainly is not.