Holiday Challah

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Honey whole wheat challah

This is my favorite challah recipe, one that I learned from Chasidic Jews in Brooklyn and Jerusalem. For the New Year, I use honey in place of the sugar in the traditional recipe.             

  • Duration
  • Cook Time
  • Prep Time
  • 2 loavesServings

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ tablespoons (1 ½ packages) active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup honey
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 8–8 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • Poppy or sesame seeds for sprinkling

Preparation

1. Dissolve the yeast and sugar in 1 ¾ cups of warm water in a large bowl. 

2. Whisk the oil into the yeast mixture, then beat in 2 of the eggs, one at a time, along with the honey and the salt. (You can also use a mixer with a dough hook for both mixing and kneading.) Gradually add eight cups of flour and stir. When the dough holds together, it is ready for kneading. 

3. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth. Clean out the bowl and grease it, then return the dough to the bowl. 

4. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place for 1 hour. (You may put the dough in an oven that has been warmed to 150°F and turned off.) 

5. When the dough has almost doubled in volume, punch it down, cover, and let rise again in a warm place for another half-hour.

To Make a 6-Braided Challah:

1. Take half the dough and form into 6  balls.

2. With your hands, roll each ball into a  strand tapered at the ends about 12 inches  long and 1 ½ inches wide.

3. Pinch the strands together at one end,  and gently spread them apart.

4. Next, move the outside right strand  over 2 strands.

5. Take the second strand from the left  and move it to the far right.

6. Regroup to 3 on each side.

7. Take the outside left strand and move  it over 2 to the middle, then move the second strand from the right over to the  far left.

8. Regroup and start over with the  outside right strand.

9. Continue until all the strands are  braided, tucking the ends underneath the  loaf.

10. The key is always to have 3 strands  on each side, so you can keep your braid  balanced.

11. Make a second loaf the same way. To make round loaves, simply pinch the  two braided ends together and tuck under  the loaf.

12. Place the braided loaves in greased  10- by 4-inch loaf pans or on a greased  cookie sheet with at least 2 inches  between them.

13. Beat the remaining egg and brush it  on the loaves. Let rise another hour.

14. Preheat the oven to 350°F and brush the loaves with egg again, then  sprinkle on poppy or sesame seeds.

15. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until  golden. Cool the loaves on a rack.

Note: To make rolls, take some dough,  about the size of a tennis ball, roll it  out to about 12 inches, and swirl into  a roll. Place on a greased cookie sheet  and bake for about 20 minutes in a  350°F oven.

Recipe published in JOY of KOSHER with Jamie Geller magazine Summer 2014. Subscribe Now.