Challah

My first ever Hanukkah present was a Jewish cookbook, which was awesome! It reminded me a lot of an Italian cookbook I have (lack of pictures, lots of blocks of text to explain steps and provide background information, authentic-sounding recipes), which made me hopeful. I’ve made Challah before, but never documented the whole thing. I also can’t remember which recipes I’ve used before. All I can say is that this is by far the best I’ve made. The bread is so soft on the inside and crusty on the outside. It looks pretty, and it even kept pretty well for a few days.

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This recipe makes enough for 2 loaves, but you’re able to freeze them, so the other one is waiting for a day when I need cheering up, the smell of fresh bread in the house, or some other day when I want this bread but am too lazy

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In the meantime, lots of pictures of this loaf!

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Directions for Challah

Slightly adapted from Joan Nathan’s Jewish Holiday Cookbook

  • 1 Tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1.75 cups lukewarm water
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 5 cups bread flour
  • About 3.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 Tablespoon salt
  • Poppy or sesame seeds (optional)

In a large bowl, pour the warm water, then sprinkle the yeast on top to dissolve.

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Wait a minute or two, then add the sugar and oil. Mix well with a whisk. Beat in 2 eggs, one at a time.

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Then, with a wooden spoon, gradually stir in the bread flour, 2 cups of the AP flour, and the salt.

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Once the dough holds together, you can begin kneading it.

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I kneaded it by hand, but you can also use a mixer or food processor. To do it by hand, you need a lightly floured surface. Use the heels of your hands to press the dough away, and your fingers to bring it back. Continue until the dough is smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes). As you knead it, you can add the remaining AP flour (as needed).

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After kneading, place the dough in a large oiled bowl, and cover it with plastic wrap. Let it rest in a warm, draft-free place for 1 hour. It will have almost doubled in that time. Punch the dough really hard, then cover it and again let it rise in a warm place, but this time for just 30 minutes. You can also let it rise in the refrigerator at this point for several hours or overnight. Bring it to room temperature before continuing.

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You can braid the dough or use a loaf pan. Whichever method you use, divide the dough into two even sections. Then, to make the traditional 6 braided-loaf, portion out 1 half of the dough into 6 even balls. Roll the balls into a strand about 14 inches long and 1.5 inches wide.

Is it just me, or do these look a bit....odd?

Is it just me, or do these look a bit….odd?

Place the strands on a lined baking dish. Pinch the strands together at one end, then begin braiding. The directions for braiding were very poor in the recipe, so do what you like, or feel free to check out this guide.

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You can do the same with the other half of dough, or simply divide it into 12 small balls and squeeze them together in the bottom of a greased loaf pan.

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At this point you can cover the dough and freeze them. Take them out of the freezer 5 hours before continuing.

Let the loaves rise for 1 hour, uncovered.

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15 minutes before baking, beat the remaining egg and brush it gently over the loaves. 5 minutes later, brush them again and then sprinkle with seeds (if using).

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Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 375 degrees and bake for an additional 30 minutes. Turn off the oven and leave the loaves inside to bake for 5 more minutes. They will have a dark-golden crust at this point. Allow to cool on a rack.

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Directions for Challah (without pictures)

Slightly adapted from Joan Nathan’s Jewish Holiday Cookbook

  • 1 Tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1.75 cups lukewarm water
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 5 cups bread flour
  • About 3.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 Tablespoon salt
  • Poppy or sesame seeds (optional)

In a large bowl, pour the warm water, then sprinkle the yeast on top to dissolve. Wait a minute or two, then add the sugar and oil. Mix well with a whisk. Beat in 2 eggs, one at a time. Then, with a wooden spoon, gradually stir in the bread flour, 2 cups of the AP flour, and the salt. Once the dough holds together, you can begin kneading it.

I kneaded it by hand, but you can also use a mixer or food processor. To do it by hand, you need a lightly floured surface. Use the heels of your hands to press the dough away, and your fingers to bring it back. Continue until the dough is smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes). As you knead it, you can add the remaining AP flour (as needed).

After kneading, place the dough in a large oiled bowl, and cover it with plastic wrap. Let it rest in a warm, draft-free place for 1 hour. It will have almost doubled in that time. Punch the dough really hard, then cover it and again let it rise in a warm place, but this time for just 30 minutes. You can also let it rise in the refrigerator at this point for several hours or overnight. Bring it to room temperature before continuing.

You can braid the dough or use a loaf pan. Whichever method you use, divide the dough into two even sections. Then, to make the traditional 6 braided-loaf, portion out 1 half of the dough into 6 even balls. Roll the balls into a strand about 14 inches long and 1.5 inches wide. Place the strands on a lined baking dish. Pinch the strands together at one end, then begin braiding. The directions for braiding were very poor in the recipe, so do what you like, or feel free to check out this guide.

You can do the same with the other half of dough, or simply divide it into 12 small balls and squeeze them together in the bottom of a greased loaf pan.

At this point you can cover the dough and freeze them. Take them out of the freezer 5 hours before continuing.

Let the loaves rise for 1 hour, uncovered. 15 minutes before baking, beat the remaining egg and brush it gently over the loaves. 5 minutes later, brush them again and then sprinkle with seeds (if using). Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 375 degrees and bake for an additional 30 minutes. Turn off the oven and leave the loaves inside to bake for 5 more minutes. They will have a dark-golden crust at this point. Allow to cool on a rack.

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16 thoughts on “Challah

  1. So pretty! And the braiding gives such an intricate looking result, but it doesn’t look too tricky to do! Thanks for sharing

  2. This is such a beautiful bake! I have made something similar before by using just bread flour. How big is the difference by mixing with all-purpose? warmly, danny

  3. Pingback: Tips-y Tuesdays: Challah Ahead of Time Results | fudgingahead

  4. Pingback: Friday Favorites 17 | fudgingahead

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