Challah is a traditional Jewish bread made every week for the Sabbath and for most Jewish holidays. I have an easy Challah recipe that is simple to master. It’s rich and decadent with a beautiful golden color and pillow-soft texture. And that three-strand plait will impress everyone at the table!
Cuisine American, Israeli
Prep Time 5minutes
Cook Time 1hour15minutes
Rising time 1hour30minutes
Total Time 1hour20minutes
Author Meggan Hill
2 1/4teaspoonsactive dry yeast1 package
1/2cup + 2 tablespoonswarm water110 to 115 degrees
3 1/2cupsbread flour
6tablespoonsbutterroom temperature (see notes)
5largeegg yolksroom temperature
1egg + 1 tablespoon water(egg wash)
2tablespoonssesame seedsor poppy seeds
Mix together the yeast, water, and honey. Soften (bloom) the yeast in warm water for 5 minutes.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the hook attachment, combine the flour, salt, butter, and egg yolks. With the motor running on low, slowly drizzle in the yeast mixture.
Increase the mixer speed to medium and mix until the dough forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 2-4 minutes. If the dough seems a bit too wet, add 1-2 tablespoons of flour.
Turn out the dough onto a clean work surface and shape into a ball. Place into the same bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place (80 to 85 degrees, see notes) until doubled in size, about 1 - 1 1/2 hours.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Punch down the dough and pour out onto a lightly floured surface. Using a bench scraper or sharp knife, cut the dough into 3 equal pieces. Roll each piece into an 18 inch log. If the dough starts to shrink back as you roll, cover with plastic wrap, and let rest for 10 minutes. Then continue to roll into logs.
Form into a three strand loaf by placing the three logs parallel to one another, but perpendicular to you. Starting at the top, pinch the three ends together. Cross left strand over middle strand, then right strand over middle strand. Continue until fully braided, readjusting the strands when necessary. Pinch the three strands together at the end and gently tuck under to create a round edge. Tuck under at the top of the loaf as well.
Place the loaf on the prepared baking sheet, cover with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap, and place the baking sheet on top of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and proof the shaped loaf until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
When ready, brush the entire surface of the loaf with egg wash and generously sprinkle with the seeds.
Bake until deep, golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through (the loaf should sound hollow when thumped ). Cool completely on the baking sheet before serving.
For Kosher challah, substitute 1/4 cup vegetable oil or olive oil for the butter.
To create a warm environment ideal for yeast-rising, preheat your oven to its minimum temperature (170 degrees, 200 degrees), but shut it off once the temperature reaches 110 degrees. Place your dough (in a greased bowl, covered with plastic wrap), on a baking sheet and in the oven. The oven temperature will drop when you open the oven door, but enough residual heat will remain that your dough should steadily rise.