Challah à tête – how do you celebrate a yeast geneticist’s birthday?


I racked my brains for what to bake for a yeast geneticist friend’s birthday. Duh, bake yeasted (Saccharomyces cerevisiae-ed) bread? But it’s got to be even cooler than that. That’s when challah à tête a.k.a. budding yeast bread was born.

So this post isn’t so much describing a new recipe as it is of experimenting with a new way of shaping (for me). I used the ever-trusty recipe for honey vanilla challah with cardamom, originally developed by Ari at but shaped it like you would for brioche à tête as demonstrated by Zoë François on the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day website.

Alright! First, some inspiration, courtesy of my friend the yeast geneticist:


I hang out with these buddies at home (Photo Credit: JFM.)

Make the dough as usual, then after the bulk fermentation (first proof), divide the dough into 12 pizza slice-like pieces. Pinch off the point end of each piece. In yeasty terms, the bigger part of the pizza slice will be the mother, and the smaller piece, the budding daughter.

I am all about perfection. Not.

This is all about perfection. Or not.

Shape both the mother slice and the daughter nub into little rounded balls. You’ll want to put the mother ball of dough into a brioche mold or a muffin cup – I happened to use silicone muffin cups here.


Give your mother ball of dough a little poke:


Then place the daughter ball of dough into the little indentation that you’ve made into the mother.


You’ll want to do the same for the rest of the little challah à tête.


Here’s a closeup of one for fun:


Let rise like you would for any other challah, brush with lightly beaten egg yolk and send them to visit The Oven.

Oooooh, look! Budding yeast bread!

Oooooh, look! Budding yeast bread!

So my shaping needs work because some of the little daughters fell off the mothers (see the photo at the very beginning of the post) but I have to say, these are pretty darn cute.

A winner to me

A winner to me

So what did my friend say?

Dashes added.
Magic? Granted!
That I knew from the start
As the sun rises
Full of surprises
Baked in the warmth of her heart 🙂

To which I replied

What a pity
that my writing’s not as witty
But here is my *thanks!*
I’m as happy
T. gondii
in Hanks  🙂

* * *

Yup, I’m a geek!

As always, I’m sending a little budding yeast bread [bun?] to Susan at Wild Yeast for Yeastspotting.

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23 Responses to “Challah à tête – how do you celebrate a yeast geneticist’s birthday?”

  1. Zoe Francois Says:

    They are adorable and a perfect birthday gift for anyone’s birthday! 😉

  2. toxobread Says:

    Hi Zoe,
    I think they look really cute too, especially with les petites têtes. Your step-by-step photos helped a lot when I was shaping these. Thanks!

  3. Professor Coldheart Says:

    And as the yeast geneticist I can say as well as being adorable they were delicious!!!!

  4. toxobread Says:

    Prof. Coldheart 😉
    Thanks! I’m glad you liked them. p.s. your freshly picked, little cherry tomato was delicious too.

  5. Susan/Wild Yeast Says:

    Very charming idea!

  6. chopchopatoz Says:

    I think it is very fun to make these cute little chalah. Good idea!

  7. toxobread Says:

    Hi Susan and Van: thanks! I had a great time making these.

  8. Jude Says:

    I like the step by step pics. Brioche a tete are always fun to make 🙂

  9. toxobread Says:

    Hi Jude: this sounds silly but I have yet to make brioche, or even try some! (How is it that I still don’t know what brioche tastes like?)

  10. susan g Says:

    Very cute and adaptive! As for the fallen daughters, try using the egg wash as glue. When our daughters are glued to us they don’t go astray — well, it works better with dough than with our human progeny.

  11. toxobread Says:

    Susan G: oh, I hadn’t thought of using the egg wash as daughter glue. Good idea! I will try that next time and believe it will work like a charm. Thanks for the suggestion. p.s. egg wash won’t work for human progeny daughter glue, but I bet freshly baked challah a tete will 😀

  12. Jude Says:

    Brioche is maybe a bit more buttery than challah.. It’s in the same ballpark 🙂

  13. Maggie Says:

    They look delicious and the nerd-factor makes me love them even more!

  14. toxobread Says:

    Jude: yes, but most of the brioche recipes I’ve seen call for beating in sticks of butter into the dough, and so I’ve been shying away from brioche because as anyone in my lab can tell you, I have nearly no upper arm strength ha ha (well, except for the sole purpose of kneading dough).

    Maggie: They were great! I have to say I enjoyed the whole process – especially taking the step by step photos with a blog post in mind – as much as the final product.

  15. YeastSpotting November 21, 2008 | Wild Yeast Says:

    […] Challah à Tête ~ Toxo Bread […]

  16. anudivya Says:

    LOL! That is so cute! What a great idea.

  17. toxobread Says:

    Anudivya: thanks! I think it’s really cute too.

  18. em Says:

    They’re so cute! And that’s really creative, shaping them that way for your yeast geneticist friend. Yay Jackie 🙂

  19. toxobread Says:

    Em: It was nice to get those creative juices going for a baking project. Pharmacy-related baked goods would be a bit harder though, but not impossible! I’ll have to give that one more thought. 😉

  20. MyKitchenInHalfCups Says:

    The more I bake the more I love playing with shaping. This is really creative and pretty!

  21. toxobread Says:

    Tanna – Yes! I must also say that the more I bake, the more I love baking ha ha. My list of things I’d like to bake keeps growing every day, which is a good thing!
    Thanks for dropping by my little blog.

  22. marie grodzik Says:

    They are beautiful; I thought you were trying to replicate the photo of the ‘bubbles’ so the off-center ones were spontaneous combustions!!! Gorgeous display!

  23. toxobread Says:

    Marie: thanks! Heh heh couldn’t quite replicate the actual budding yeast (mothers and daughters) with these little buns. I’ll leave that to my friend JFM.

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