Challah (pronounce: Halla [χa’la] is a special bread in Jewish cuisine, usually braided and typically eaten on ceremonial occasions such as Shabbat and major Jewish holidays (other than Passover). The bread contains eggs, yeast, flour, and honey. According to Jewish tradition, the three Sabbath meals (Friday night, Saturday lunch, and Saturday late afternoon) and two holiday meals (one at night and lunch the following day) each begin with two complete loaves of bread.
Learn how to make challah needs patient, some recipes requires several rising times before baking. If you are feeling playful, you can braid challah bread with multiple strands in many different shapes. Some of them could be rolled like burger buns, some of them has long braids, round braids, or even filled with raisins.
The secret to a glossy loaf is to brush the bread with egg wash twice, once after braiding and then again half way through the baking.
Thank’s to Tori Avey to put detail instructions how to make challah from start to finish. I made this in a day, and my kitchen smells so good I almost forgot I’ve been cooped up at home due to social distancing in New York this month.
- 1 packet or 7 grams active dry yeast
- 1½ cups lukewarm water, divided
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 large egg
- 3 large egg yolks
- ⅓ cup honey
- 2 tbsp canola oil
- 2 teaspoon salt
- 4.5 cups all purpose flour
- 1 large egg
- Pour ¼ cup of lukewarm water into a large mixing bowl. Add 7 grams or 1 packet of active dry yeast and 1 teaspoon of sugar to the bowl, stir to dissolve. Wait 10 minutes or until the mixture looks foamy. If it doesn't look foamy, your yeast may be expired so you need to get a new one.
- Once your yeast has activated, add 1¼ cup lukewarm water to the bowl along with egg, egg yolks, honey, canola oil, and salt. Use a whisk to mix the ingredients together.
- Begin adding the flour to the bowl one cup at a time, stirring with a large spoon. When the mixture becomes too thick to stir, use your hands to knead.
- Continue to knead until the dough is smooth, elastic, and not sticky. If the dough sticks to your hands, keep adding flour ¼ cup at a time until it doesn't feel sticky anymore.
- If you plan to add raisins to the bread, now is the time. You can knead the raisins with the dough.
- Place a saucepan full of water on the stove to boil.
- Remove the dough from the mixing bowl and clean the bowl. Grease the bowl with canola oil and put the dough back into the bowl.
- Cover the bowl with damp kitchen towel. (i used damp paper towels to cover the bowl)
- Place the bowl of the dough in the midlle rack of the oven. Take the saucepan with boiling water and place it below the rack your dough sits. Close the oven, but do not turn it on! This method creates a warm, moist environment for your dough to rise.
- Let the dough rise for 1 hour, or until the dough doubles in size.
- Take the dough bowl out and punch it down several times to remove air pockets. Place it back inside the oven, and let it rise again for another hour.
- Take the dough out and punch it again.
- Remove the dough from the bowl, and start divide your dough depending on how many strands you want to make the braids.
- This is what i did: I weighed the entire dough and divide them onto 6 (because I want to make 3 strands on each challah braids- to make 2 challah logs)
- Now, you can start braiding your challah. I used oil on the surface to roll the dough and to prevent the dough from sticking to our hands and the surface.
- After you've braided your challah, place it on the cookie sheet lined with parchement papaer or grease it with oil. Use one sheet pan for one challah braid.
- Let the bread to rise for another 45 minutes. You can test if the dough is ready to bake, when you press your fingers into the dough and the indentation stays, rather than bouncing back.
- Heat the oven for 350 degree F.
- Prepare you egg wash by beating an egg in the bowl until smooth. Brush the challah using pastry brush on the surface of the bread.
- Set a timer for 20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes, take the bread out of the oven, and brush another layer of egg wash and bake for another 20 minutes.
- Take the challah out of the oven. You can test the bread for doneness by turning it over. The bottom of your loaf should feel light in weight and sound hollow accross.
- You can add sesame seed, poppy seed, or everything bagel topping as you pleased.