Homemade Challah

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homemade challah

One of the most important Jewish foods, challah is eaten on Shabbat and holidays. I’ve always loved the smell of fresh baked bread at home, but before I started making my own I thought it was very complicated and difficult. Then I started trying lots of recipes and have come up with this one, which produces a satisfying challah every time. Now that I make my own bread often, I think it’s easy.

  • Duration
  • Cook Time
  • Prep Time
  • 2 challah loaves ServingsServings

Ingredients

  • 320 g (1 1/2 cups) water
  • 80 g (1/4 cup) sugar
  • 30 g (3 Tbs.) fresh yeast or 15 g (1 1/2 Tbs.) dry yeast
  • 800 g (6 1/4 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 12 g (1 Tbs.) salt
  • 60 g (1/4 cups) oil

For the coating:

  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2-3 Tbs. sesame/poppy/sunflower seeds

Preparation

  1. Pour the water, sugar and yeast into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.
  2. Add the flour, eggs, salt and oil.
  3. Mix on low for 4 minutes. Increase the speed and mix for another 5 minutes.
  4. Take the dough from the bowl and put it on a floured surface. Knead with your hands a few times and roll it into a ball. Don’t worry if the dough looks a little moist; do not be tempted to add more flour!
  5. Place the dough in a lightly floured bowl and cover with a kitchen towel. Allow to rise for about 40 minutes, until doubled in volume.
  6. Divide the dough in half. Divide each half into three portions, and roll them into a thick snake. Pinch together the tops of three pieces of dough and braid, pinching at the end. Repeat with the remaining dough to make two loaves.
  7. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  8. Allow the dough to rise once more on the baking sheet. Check with your finger to see if it’s ready: push the dough gently with your finger; if it bounces back quickly, then it’s ready to bake.
  9. Brush with egg and sprinkle with sesame, poppy or sunflower seeds.
  10. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F.
  11. Put the challah in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes, then lower the heat to 170C (340F). Bake for 10 minutes, until golden brown.
  12. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving.

Variation:

Instead of braiding the challah dough, divide it into 19 even pieces and roll them into balls. Arrange them next to each other in a tight circle to form 3 round challah loaves. Brush with egg and bake as directed above.

TIP:  When making challah, babka, and other recipes with yeast dough,

press lightly on the dough with your finger until it makes a slight dent. If the dent vanishes immediately it's a sign that the dough has risen and is ready to the next step of baking. If the dent remains unchanged, then the dough hasn't risen sufficiently.