Challah bread is a traditional bread of Ashkenazi Jewish roots that is usually a sweet, braided bread that is served during the Shabbat meal on a weekly basis, as well as on certain holidays like Rosh Hashanah, where the challah is braided and shaped into a circle. Making challah on your own is simple, but requires a few hours so keep that in mind. The effort will totally be worth it, as you’ll be left with a soft, delicious bread that’s also perfect for French toast.
What You Need
For the dough:
4 cups AP flour
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, plus 1 egg yolk (you can use the egg white for brushing)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup warm water (about 110°F or 43°C)
For the egg wash:
1 egg white (reserved from the dough)
1 tablespoon water
What To Do
Mix together the warm water and teaspoon of sugar, then combine the yeast in the water. Allow it to sit for about 10 minutes until it begins to bubble and becomes frothy.
In a large bowl, mix together the rest of the sugar, salt, eggs, egg yolk, and oil and make sure they’re thoroughly combined. Then slowly add in the yeast mix until it is well incorporated.
Mix the Dough: In a large mixing bowl, combine the remaining sugar, salt, eggs, egg yolk, and vegetable oil. Mix well. Gradually add the frothy yeast mixture and stir to combine.
Slowly begin to add in the flour a cup at a time until a dough begins to form. Next, knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until it has become smooth and elastic. This usually takes about 8 to 10 minutes. Should the dough feel sticky, you can add in a little bit of flour, but make sure not to add to much as it will yield in a heavy final product.
Once the dough is smooth, put it in a greased bowl and cover it with a clean kitchen towel. Let it rise for about 1 to 1.5 hours in a warm spot. You know it’s done rising when it has risen to double its size.
Once the first rise is done, gently punch down the dough and divide it into three. Roll each section into a rope, and then braid them together until you have a braided loaf.
Place your loaf on a baking sheet that’s lined with parchment paper and cover that with a kitchen towel. Let it rise for a second time, about 30 minutes or more until it has risen and puffed.
Preheat your oven to 350°F and prepare you egg wash by whisking together the egg white and water. Brush the egg wash over the loaf, and sprinkle on any seeds if you like, sesame seeds are a classic.
Bake the load for about 25 to 30 minutes until it is golden brown. Take it out of the oven and let it cool on a cooling rack completely before going to town on it. Enjoy your beautiful challah!