Challah

Traditional egg bread for the Jewish Sabbath. Still perfecting this recipe but it’s beautiful and great for challah french toast or a challah egg casserole.

I’ve been on a Jewish baking kick. Made rugelach last week and on to challah. I grew up eating challah as a kid but had never made bread before until quarentine.

Watching Molly Yeh on the food network really inspired me to start making more traditional Jewish foods. 

So I gave it a go and let me tell you this aint for the weak yall. It’s definitely a process and requires some time and patience. But seeing your dough transform from a pale white to golden brown deliciousness in the oven is soooooo satisfying. Also yes yes I know sourdough is the current bread trend during quarentine but lets branch out a little people. (Plus this is a MUCH shorter process than sourdough)

The process:

Okay so here we go. First lets get started with making the dough. The recipe I’m using is from New York times and makes about two loaves. If you haven’t made challah before and are interested in making a braided round dough I recommend watching a quick youtube tutorial on how to braid!

I will say you need to be patient letting the dough have proper time to rise. If you are looking for a warm place to activate that gluten, I usually turn my oven to the lowest temperature and then turn it off and stick my dough in there. Yeast loves loves loves warmth and moisture.

Okay now to the braiding. I made a regular braided loaf and then a 6-braid round loaf. The key to getting the challah golden brown is to add your egg wash after forming the loaves and then letting it rise and then adding ANOTHER layer of egg wash. The double egg wash makes all the difference.

What I love about challah is that you can make all different renditions. I’ve seen garlic and onion challah, scallion challah, cinnamon swirl challah, raisen etc. Mine was a bit basic but I did top mine with sesames which added some extra toastiness to the top.

Once you’ve properly braided, egg washed, risen the dough, and arranched on your cookie sheets it’s time for the baking. It takes around 35 minutes to bake but definitely keep your eye on it around the 30 minute mark if it starts getting really dark. 

Once the timer goes off – voila! You should have two beautifully golden loaves if you’ve followed the directions properly.

Cool loaves on a wire rack and you can eat immediately or even freeze! I plan on making challah french toast or a challah bread pudding with my second loaf however you could also make a challah egg casserole if you’re craving something more savory.  Aint no CHALLAH backkkkk girll as my girl Gwen Stephani would say. Okay. I’m done here.

Best Challah Loaf

  • 1 ½ packages active dry yeast (1 1/2 tablespoons)
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1/2 cup sugar
  • ½ cup vegetable oil, more for greasing bowl
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 8 to 8 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  •  Poppy or sesame seeds for sprinkling
  1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar in 1 3/4 cups lukewarm water.
  2. Whisk oil into yeast, then beat in 4 eggs, one at a time, with remaining sugar and salt. Gradually add flour. When dough holds together, it is ready for kneading. (You can also use a mixer with a dough hook for both mixing and kneading.)
  3. Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth. Clean out bowl and grease it, then return dough to bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until almost doubled in size. Dough may also rise in an oven that has been warmed to 150 degrees then turned off. Punch down dough, cover and let rise again in a warm place for another half-hour.
  4. To make a 6-braid challah, either straight or circular, take half the dough and form it into 6 balls. With your hands, roll each ball into a strand about 12 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide. Place the 6 in a row, parallel to one another. Pinch the tops of the strands together. Move the outside right strand over 2 strands. Then take the second strand from the left and move it to the far right. Take the outside left strand and move it over 2. Move second strand from the right over to the far left. Start over with the outside right strand. Continue this until all strands are braided. For a straight loaf, tuck ends underneath. For a circular loaf, twist into a circle, pinching ends together. Make a second loaf the same way. Place braided loaves on a greased cookie sheet with at least 2 inches in between.
  5. Beat remaining egg and brush it on loaves. Either freeze breads or let rise another hour.
  6. If baking immediately, preheat oven to 375 degrees and brush loaves again. If freezing, remove from freezer 5 hours before baking. Then dip your index finger in the egg wash, then into poppy or sesame seeds and then onto a mound of bread. Continue until bread is decorated with seeds.
  7. Bake in middle of oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until golden. Cool loaves on a rack.

Additional Yeast & Baking Tips

Random facts of the day. Providing some information about fat in breads that may be helpful:

  1. Fats give the dough richness and moisture.
  2. Fats make the bread tender.
  3. Fats give the final product a finer grain.

Types of Fats

  • Oil is a liquid fat at room temperature; Shortening is a solid fat at room temperature.
  • Butter, margarine, shortening and oil are used in breads.
  • Butter or margarine add more flavor than shortening and are often used in the richer sweet doughs.
  • Tub margarine should not be used.

Usage Tips for Fats

  • Too much fat will slow down or stop yeast fermentation.
  • Use all fats at room temperature

Lastly, if you try this challah loaves make sure to comment below on my post and of course tag me on Instagram. Would love to see how they turn out!

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