Tree-shaped fruity raisin challah for Tu B’Shevat (or anytime!)

Fluffy, soft, delicious raisin challah packed with extra dried fruits!
Make a tree-shaped challah for Tu B’Shevat or enjoy a loaf anytime.

Hands up who loves a fruity bun? They are always a big hit in our house, spread with loads of butter and enjoyed for breakfast, tea, or just as a snack. No surprise really that raisin challah is my favourite kind of challah, too.

New Year for Trees

So when contemplating making something special for Tu B’Shevat, the New Year for Trees, which this year (2017) falls on Shabbat, a delicious raisin challah studded with all kinds of extra fruits seemed like a great idea. To really get into the Tu B’Shevat spirit, I also decided to form the dough into a tree shape before baking. (Half the dough, anyway. The other half I baked up as a standard plaited raisin challah – not quite so Tu B’Shevat themed but just as delicious!)

Tree shaped raisin challah for tu b'shevat.

Dried fruits galore

I raided our baking cupboard for suitable dried fruits and came up with the following – apple, apricot, cherries, raisins, sultanas, and candied lemon & orange peel. Not bad, but you could also use dried figs, dates, plums (prunes), peaches, pears, mango and probably a whole lot more. I upped the tree-fruit content still further by using olive oil and coconut oil in the challah dough. I had also intended to scatter flaked almonds onto my tree-shaped loaf to give the impression of leaves, but I forgot! Next time…

Tree shaped raisin challah

Raisin challah tree!

Even without its almond leaves I’m quite pleased with how this fruity raisin challah ‘tree’ came out. It looked highly appropriate for Tu B’Shevat! And it was soft, fluffy, fragrant, and of course deliciously fruity. The house smelled AMAZING while it was baking and for some time afterwards.

You can pull it apart into rolls for serving, cut it into wedges, or slice it like a regular loaf. It’s delicious whichever way you do it, especially if you spread it with an indulgent layer of butter or a suitably fruity jam.

Tree shaped raisin challah

Learn more about Tu B’Shevat

If you’d like to read more about Tu B’Shevat, check out my Tu B’Shevat fruit platter post. It has more background on the history of this fruity festival, plus some useful brachot (blessings).

Fluffy, soft, delicious raisin challah, studded with extra dried fruits - apricot, apple, cherry and more! Make tree shaped for Tu B'Shevat or enjoy a simple loaf anytime.

Fluffy, soft, delicious fruity raisin challah, studded with dried fruits and totally delicious!
Fluffy, soft, delicious fruity challah, studded with apricot, apple, cherry, orange peel & more! Make tree shaped for Tu B'Shevat or enjoy a loaf anytime.

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Fruity challah

Perfect for Tu B'Shevat (or anytime!)
Course Bread
Cuisine jewish
Keyword baking, fruit
Servings 2 loaves
Author Helen


  • 180 ml soya/oat/almond milk (¾ cup)
  • 130 ml hot (boiling) water (⅔ cup)
  • 2 tsp dry yeast
  • 250 g strong white bread flour (2 cups)
  • 250 g plain flour (2 cups)
  • 70 g caster sugar (⅓ cup)
  • 3 tsp cinnamon OR mixed spice
  • Good pinch salt
  • 20 g coconut oil (1 tbsp)
  • 30 ml olive oil (2 tbsp)
  • 125 g mixed dried fruit e.g. raisins, sultanas, cherries, chopped dried apricots, apples, pears, peaches, dates, figs etc. (⅔ cup)
  • Egg to glaze (optional)


  • Combine the milk and hot water, stir, then add the dry yeast and whisk to dissolve. Set aside for 10 minutes until foamy.
  • Meanwhile, combine the flours, sugar, spice and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment.
  • Once the yeast mixture is foamy, add it to the flour and set the mixer running. Let the mixer combine and knead the dough for about five minutes.
  • Add the coconut oil and olive oil and continue to mix for a further five minutes.
  • Add the fruit and mix just to distribute the fruit through the dough. Remove the ball of dough from the bowl and knead by hand for a minute or two. The dough should be soft and smooth but not too sticky.
  • Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and put in a warm place for an hour or until doubled in size. (You can also leave the dough in the fridge overnight to complete this stage - see notes.)
  • Knock back the dough, knead lightly, and divide into two pieces.

To make standard loaves

  • Line two loaf tins with baking parchment.
  • Cut one of the dough pieces into three sections. Stretch/roll each one into a long snake, then plait them together.
  • Tuck the ends underneath and place in a lined loaf tin. Repeat with the remaining piece of dough.

To make 'tree' loaves

  • Line 2 baking sheets with baking parchment.
  • Divide a piece of dough into three pieces. Cut the first two into 5 smaller pieces. The third piece should be cut into two irregular pieces, one about 3/5 of the piece and one 2/5. Cut the smaller piece in half.
  • You now have one larger piece and 12 small pieces. Form the larger piece into the 'trunk' of the tree and place onto a lined tray. Roll the small pieces into balls and arrange to form the top of the tree. The balls should be just touching, with room to rise and expand.
  • Repeat with the second piece of dough.

For both

  • Cover the loaves with a tea towel and leave to rise for about an hour.
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
  • Uncover the loaves. Whisk the egg and gently brush over the tops of the loaves (if using).
  • Bake the 'tree' loaves for around 20 minutes, and the standard loaves for around 25 minutes, until golden brown and glossy.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool on wire racks.


The first rise of the dough can be done in the fridge overnight. Make the dough before bedtime, place in an oiled bowl, cover and place in the fridge. Remove the bowl as soon as you wake up in the morning and leave for an hour or two to come up to ambient temperature before continuing with the recipe as above.

If you’d like more challah recipes, take a look at this easy 1-hour vegan challah which is great year round! Or how about a jam doughnut pull-apart challah for Chanukahspiced apple challah for Rosh Hashanah, and this Shlissel challah by the wonderful Challah Mummy.

raisin challah.

And if you’re in the Tu B’Shevat mood, and would like to spread something fruity onto your challah, how about one of these:
Apple and lemon verbena jelly by Kavey Eats
Apricot and vanilla jam by Tin & Thyme
Cherry jam by Fab Food 4 All
Clementine marmalade by Domestic Gothess
Lemon curd by Tin & Thyme
Orange curd by Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary
Peach & ice-wine jam by Kavey Eats
Plum jelly by Kavey Eats
Plum and apple jam by Fab Food 4 All
Simple fig jam by Fab Food 4 All
Three fruit marmalade from Lavender and Lovage

I’m linking up with CookBlogShare, and Inheritance Recipes (organised by Pebble Soup and Coffee and Vanilla



  1. Pingback:How to make sweet memories with Grandma's fruit compote

  2. Absolutely gorgeous! Just saw your entry at Karen’s blog…

    nice to “meet” you!

  3. I love challah, sliced and topped with some butter. It reminds me of Poland. Thank you for sharing with #InheritanceRecipes

  4. Thank you for linking to our February Inheritance Recipes, Challah is so much the food of celebrations, family and love. Yours looks delicious

  5. Oh this sounds delicious! I wasn’t hungry before reading this but now I want a sweet raid in my kitchen! 🙂

  6. Oh what a beautiful loaf and such gorgeous flavours. What a wonderful idea for a celebration! Thanks for linking it up to #CookBlogShare 🙂 Eb x

  7. Your fruity Challah looks and sounds divine Helen, I think I might just have it with butter:-) Thanks for linking to my jams:-)

  8. Oh that’s fabulous, love the idea of a New Year for Trees. I always think New Year should be celebrated in March, not January. Great looking fruity bun too 😉

  9. Sylvia @ Happiness is homemade

    I used to eat fresh challah (or chałka in Polish) for breakfast with a glass of hot cocoa or just a warm milk – loved it! It always brings back fond memories of my childhood 🙂

    Thanks for sharing!

  10. Helen @ Fuss Free Flavours

    I love the idea of New Year for trees, what a wonderful thing to recognise! Trees are so important.

    I love your fruity challah too.

  11. I love this celebration of trees, such a wonderful thing to celebrate. The challah looks really beautiful and thank you so much for sharing some of my jam and jelly recipes with your readers.

    • Thanks Kavey. I agree – I love celebrating it, especially at this time of year when the buds are just starting to open and new leaves are peeping out ??

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