Quince Challah Knots

Quince Challah Knots ©Shutterstock

I first published this Quince Challah Knots recipe in The Washington Post Lifestyle and Food sections on October 6, 2011, under the 'Challah with Quince, an Unexpected Holiday Treat' headline. With some edits, I am republishing the Quince Challah Knots recipe just in time for Rosh HaShanah 2021, which falls on the eve of September 6 this year. 

Turns out, I initially baked these delicious beauties for Yom Kippur break-the-fast 2011, but they are a real treat for Rosh HaShanah as well. 

My son was still in High School and I completely forgot that I used him and his soccer buddies as my guinea pigs. And below is what I wrote back in 2011 for The Washington Post:

Challah with Quince, an Unexpected Holiday Treat

For our Yom Kippur break-fast this year (which will take place Saturday night), I was looking for an alternative to my usual apple-filled challah when I hit upon using quince, the firm-fleshed fruit sometimes known as golden apple. It can smell of pineapple or guava, and it looks a little like a plumped-up pear.

In this recipe, I’ve used it to fill knots of my very own challah dough — something I’ve strived to perfect over the years. The unfilled knots seemed to go over well when I served samples to my son’s college soccer teammates.
Quinces ©ShulieMadnick

The dough can be swirled to look like a snail instead of “tied” into knots.

Here’s how to fill and create the knots; the recipe for my Quince Challah Honey Knots follows on the next page.

The quince is a fruit whose firm flesh needs to be cooked before it is eaten. Here, it is used as filling for lovely challah rolls that are nice to serve at Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

Quinces are usually available at larger Asian markets.

Make Ahead: The dough needs to rise two times, for a total of about 2 hours. The baked knots can be individually wrapped in aluminum foil, then stored in resealable plastic food storage bags and frozen for up to 3 months. Reheat the foil-wrapped knots on a baking sheet in a 350-degree oven for 10 minutes.

Quince Challah Knots
Servings: 16 rolls


For the knots:

About 7 cups (2.2 pounds) flour
About 5 1/2 teaspoons (7/8 ounce; 3 packets) active dry yeast
1/2 cup sugar in the raw
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 cup honey
2 large eggs, plus 1 beaten egg for brushing
1 3/4 cups water
1/2 cup canola oil, plus more for the proofing bowl
Sesame seeds, for garnish

For the filling:

2 large quinces (1 pound; see headnote)
Freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon (3 to 4 tablespoons)
6 tablespoons honey


For the knots: Combine the flour and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment. Beat on low speed just to blend, then add the sugar, salt, honey, 2 eggs, water and oil; beat on low speed for 12 minutes to form a soft dough. Scrape all the dough out of the bowl and off the hook; form it into a ball, then coat the inside of the bowl with a light film of oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let it rest in a cool place for about 1 hour. The dough should almost double in size.

Meanwhile, make the filling: Peel and core the quinces. Cut into medium dice (1/2-inch) or matchsticks and place in a mixing bowl, immediately sprinkling them with the lemon juice as you work so the flesh does not turn brown. Transfer to a large saute pan and add the honey, stirring to coat. Place over medium-low heat and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring, until the fruit has softened yet still holds its shape. Remove from the heat.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Punch the air out of the dough, then divide it into 16 pieces of equal size. Keep them covered under a clean dish towel or plastic wrap as you roll and fill them.

Working with one piece at a time, roll the dough into a 10-by-2 1/2-inch rectangle. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the cooked quince down the center of the rectangle. Pull the long edges together over the filling; pinch and seal well to form what looks like a long cylinder. Fold in the top and bottom and pinch to seal well.

Use the cylinder to “tie” a knot, so that one end is tucked at the bottom and the other pokes out at the top. Place on one of the lined baking sheets; repeat to form the remaining knots, arranging 8 of them spaced well apart on each lined sheet. Cover with a clean dish towel and let sit at room temperature for 40 to 60 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Use the egg wash to brush the tops of the knots, then sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden. Cool to warm or room temperature before serving.

Author's Note:

Please find more challah, Rosh HaShanah, and Yom Kippur recipes in the search function on the blog's right-hand column and in previous posts.

RoshHaShanah & Yom Kippur Story Links:


  1. What would you recommend as a substitute for quince?

    1. Though you can use the apples raw or lightly cooked. The quinces must be cooked and take longer to cook and soften.