Challah bread is a traditional Jewish braided bread. It’s soft on the inside and crispy on the outside, with a semi-sweet taste and a texture that melts in your mouth. Traditionally, challah is made using dough from which a small portion has been set aside as an offering, which is why it’s often said to bring blessings to the home. It’s typically eaten on Shabbat (the Jewish sabbath or day of rest), as well as during the High Holidays of Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah, and Hanukkah. But a fresh loaf also makes a great Passover gift, or it can be a unique addition to pretty much any other meal.
You can pick up some challah bread at your local Jewish deli, or you can make it at home! Even if you’re not Jewish, this delicious bread is a treat and a great addition to any meal.
While it involves a few more steps, making challah is similar to making other types of bread. Here’s a detailed list of the ingredients you’ll need as well as a step-by-step description of the process:
(Makes about 2 medium or 1 large bread)
- 1¾ Cups Warm Water
- 1 ½ Tbsp Active Dry or Yeast or Instant Yeast
- ½ Cup Table Sugar
- 1 Tbsp Table Sugar for Proofing the Yeast
- 8 to 8 ½ Cup All-Purpose Flour
- ½ Cup All-Purpose Flour for Kneading and Dusting
- ½ Cup Vegetable Oil/Canola Oil
- 1 Tbsp Salt
- 5 Large Eggs Lightly Beaten (Reserve the White of One Egg for Glazing the Bread)
- Baking Sheets Lightly Greased with Vegetable Oil
- Optional Toppings like Sesame Seeds/Cinnamon & Sugar/Poppy Seeds/ Zaatar Spice
Curing the Yeast:
Dissolve 1 tbsp of sugar in warm water in a bowl and sprinkle the dry yeast on top. Set aside for about 5 to 10 minutes while the yeast activates. You’ll know it’s ready when the mixture starts to foam.
Making Challah Bread
- In a large mixing bowl, pour the eggs, vegetable oil, sugar, salt, and mix a little.
- Gradually add the flour, a little at a time, to make a soft dough.
- Sprinkle a little flour on a surface and turn the dough on it. Start kneading thoroughly until it forms a smooth texture.
- Transfer the dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let it stand in a warm place for around an hour to an hour and a half until the dough rises. It should double in size.
- Punch down the dough and set it aside to rise for another 30 minutes or so.
- Divide the dough into two portions.
- Start working on one portion by dividing it into three or six balls. Roll the balls of dough into strands.
- Braid the bread strands by pinching the tops together, and then moving the outer strands inwards until the end. Secure the end also by pinching together.
- Repeat with the second ball of dough.
- Place the dough on the greased sheet leaving enough space between them to rise properly.
- Brush the top of the dough with beaten egg white, taking care to cover all the crevices and sides thoroughly.
- Set aside for another hour in a warm place, so they rise.
- Just before slipping into the oven, brush once again with the egg white. You can also top off your bread with the desired garnish.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and bake the challah bread for 30-35 minutes until it acquires a beautiful golden coloring. You can try an instant-read thermometer to check the internal temperature for 190 degrees before removing it from the oven.
Slice and serve warm with butter. Enjoy!
This post was submitted by Moshe Friedman, ChallahOnline.com founder. ChallahOnline provides fresh, handcrafted kosher gift baskets. All their products are 100% kosher and are guaranteed to be delivered fresh at your doorstep.