I only know one Yiddish phrase (well, two, if you can count farshikkert, which is a pretty awesome way to say someone is three sheets to the wind), but conveniently, it is my favorite. A shonda for the goyim means, roughly, that someone of the Jewish faith is not only doing something shameful (shonda), but doing it in front of non-Jews, which of course is an entirely worse offense. Like, it would be bad enough to, say, eat ham and cheese on matzo on Passover (or, I suspect, ever and boy, do I have a great story about that but first let me see if I can get my mother to pay me not to share it) but it would be doubly more awful to do it in front of a person outside your faith. You would, in fact, bring shame upon your entire people, mostly because when given the choice between the most or least dramatic interpretation of an event, I think can safely say that my people will generally opt for the former.
NEW: Watch me make challah on YouTube!
Anyway, I love the phrase so much, I use it all of the time, including times when it’s probably totally inappropriate. For example, the other day someone suggested that I might consider adding a Jewish Recipe index to smittenkitchen.com’s new Topic Indexes. I began to look for Jewish or holiday-themed recipes in my archives and came to a terrible realization: The offerings were quite paltry. Not only is there no brisket in there, where are the kreplach (dumplings), the kugels and my mother’s amazing apple cake? How can I not have a single recipe for challah?
A shonda, indeed.
Well, I aim to get us swiftly up to speed. Challah, or egg bread, is a lot like brioche in that it is a slightly sweet bread enriched with both eggs and fat, except challah uses oil instead of butter, and less of it, while using more eggs. It is mildly decadent and seriously delicious and it is a known fact across all lands (or at least diners in the tri-state area) that when slightly staled, makes the most amazing French toast there could be. Seriously. I actually get disappointed when I order French toast and receive a stack without the telltale crust of poppy seeds on it.
To bake it at home is to have your apartment swallowed whole by the an aroma so sweet, it alone could make a religious person out of you. I don’t know if it is the eggs or oils or extra sugar in there, but it puts all bread-baking aromas before it to shame, the kind of glorious scent you will want to walk around in a haze of in the days that follow. As you should. As we all should.
Bread-phobic? Check out my tips for beaming and bewitching breads before you start.
One year ago: Couscous and Feta Stuffed Peppers (Still our favorite!)
Two years ago: Fougasse
Best Challah (Egg Bread)
Adapted from Joan Nathan
The secrets to good challah are simple: Use two coats of egg wash to get that laquer-like crust and don’t overbake it. Joan Nathan, who this recipe is adapted from, adds that three risings always makes for the tastiest loaves, even better if one of them is slowed down in the fridge.
Time: about 1 hour, plus 2 1/2 hours’ rising
Yield: 2 loaves
3 3/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (about 1 1/2 packages, 3/8 ounces or 11 grams)
1 tablespoon (13 grams) granulated sugar
1 3/4 cups lukewarm water
1/2 cup (118 ml) olive or vegetable oil, plus more for greasing the bowl
4 large eggs
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
1 tablespoon (14 grams) table salt
8 to 8 1/2 cups (1000 to 1063 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup raisins (about 70 grams) per challah, if using, plumped in hot water and drained
1 large egg
Poppy or sesame seeds (optional)
1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 tablespoon (13 grams) sugar in water; set aside for 5 minutes until a bit foamy.
2. Whisk oil into yeast, then beat in 4 eggs, one at a time, with remaining 1/2 cup (100 grams) 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, but be careful if using a standard size KitchenAid–it’s a bit much for it, though it can be done.)
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. At this point, you can knead the raisins into the challah, if you’re using them, before forming the loaves. 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. Sprinkle bread with seeds, if using. If freezing, remove from freezer 5 hours before baking.
7. Bake in middle of oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden. (If you have an instant read thermometer, you can take it out when it hits an internal temperature of 190 degrees.) Cool loaves on a rack.
Note: Any of the three risings can be done in the fridge for a few hours, for more deeply-developed flavor. When you’re ready to work with it again, bring it back to room temperature before moving onto the next step.
Round or straight braid? Raisins or skip them? Straight loaves of braided challah are eaten throughout the year–typically on the Sabbath–round challahs, often studded with raisins, are served for the New Year and the other High Holidays that follow. I made one of each, so you could see examples.
* These days, we make round woven challahs with this much easier technique. Do check it out!
831 comments on best challah (egg bread)
woot! first post! any recommendations about bread braiding instructionals?
Beautiful! Can’t wait to try this.
Thank you for this recipe! I’m from Boston and have been obsessed with a super sweet and doughy challah from a Brookline bakery called Cherylanne’s…during the quarantine my family has been craving comfort and tradition so I started making this recipe to accompany Shabbat dinner. I have now made it for a few weeks and the following tweaks have made it a winner for us: I increase the sugar to 160g and the salt to 18g…an overnight cool rise is also essential for the best flavor. Thank you for all your amazing recipes.
I’ve just popped my bread in the oven so your advice is too late for this loaf, but I’m wondering, do you put it in the fridge braided and ready to go? Do you then bring it to room temp before baking the next day?
I’ve been working on Sourdough (yes, I’m a Covid Cliche .. we got a puppy too!) but decided we needed a challah for Rosh Hashana. I know how to deal with the sourdough over night, but have never done it with a challah. Thanks! Happy Healthy New Year to all!!
Another fan of Cheryl Ann’s! Hey! Will try your tweaks to get closer to that ideal 😍
Do you put the dough right in the frig thursday night for the first rise and then punch it down and have it do the second rise on the counter friday morning?
I do my first rise on the counter Thursday night, punch down, then put it in the fridge overnight. Back in the counter after breakfast and I braid after lunch.
When you put the first coat of egg wash on the loaves, do you still cover them with plastic wrap? I’ve been making challah for years with a similar recipe, but the double egg wash is new to me.
No, not after the first one.
I like that you used weights for this recipe. I like baking with weight/metric measurements because it allows for consistency. However, the water amount is not in weights and I find that this leads to different dough consistencies if it is even a little bit off when I measure by eye (using a measuring cup and no scale), which has not been great. Instead of 1 3/4 cups of water, what is the weight of the water, in grams, that you use? Thanks!
The braiding instructions in the recipe are the clearest and easiest I have followed yet. In fact, they are the only ones I have ever been successful with, that is, for such an elaborate braid. Best advice? Have someone read them aloud to you. It is way too hard to keep reading and going back to braiding–you’ll lose your place.
I’ve been making your challah almost every week for over a year now! While I braid it, I always sing out loud to myself:
-Far right, move over two
-Second from the left, move over all
-Far left, move over two
-Second from the right, move over all
It’s a little ridiculous, but it helps so much! To the point where I have the song memorized, and I don’t even need to read the directions anymore!
Thank you — I bet that will be helpful. I think this 6-strand braid the best-looking one and am never happy with others more intuitive.
Following up on Courtney’s request, can you make a round-ish loaf with this recipe? Being the new year and all.
I love this recipe. We like a slightly saltier challah so I up the salt a touch. But my main question is about cutting the recipe in half. I’ve done the math. I use a scale to weigh the yeast even and yet when I make the full recipe I get better rise to my dough then when I make just one challah. With nothing else different and I just can’t figure out why! Lol driving me bonkers haha.
I’ve had great results with 2/3 size (two smaller loaves) and bread flour. Luxuriously puffy, gorgeous Challah!
Dough does tend to develop better in larger quantities
Any recommendations on freezing and defrosting the dough? I’m having a hard time getting my dough to rise after freezing so it’s too dense and not cooking all the way through after it’s been frozen.
This shiksah is thrilled you’re sharing your challah recipe. Your rugelach pinwheels made me farhklempt–now I’m simply over the moon again!
Oh, this looks fantastic! You know, sometimes it’s the most ingrained recipes that never get shared…thanks for bringing this one out!
To make a round loaf, simply bring the ends of the braids together, explained in step 4. The second picture is a round one, finished. Here’s another shot, as well.
Can you use bread flour instead of all-purpose?
Yes, I always use bread flour in my challah.
doh, sorry! I will try to read the recipe all the way through next time instead of just drooling over your photos. I should put a shmatta over my embarrassed face!
Once again you take something that makes me think “oh my, that’s far too complicated for me” and make it seem so simple. I’m feeling confident about my bread making abilities thanks to that wheat bread recipe so I’ll have to give this a try.
Man! I am totally making that this weekend. Along with the honey cake. Right. At least my fellow vet students can share come Monday.
As an aside, I just made your roasted grape tomatoes for the 4th time (!), and they were perfect as always. Now if I can keep my 13-month-old and my husband away from them, I might actually be able to get some!
For those of use who don’t like raisins, can they be optional?
Wow. I just learned how to make rolls look somewhat normal. Maybe someday I’ll be a big girl and be able to make this. It looks wonderful… and I can only imagine that it’s better than the store bought Challah.
A challah related shonda: Putting easter eggs in a challah. Just so so so wrong.
The raisins are optional. They are often used for the High Holidays, as is the round format. In the instructions, there are options for making it with or without the raisins, and either braided straight or in a ring.
Any suggestions to make the challah a little more doughy or moister on the inside?
Bake it for less time or use less flour — I never go to the higher end of the range here.
“Like, it would be bad enough to, say, eat ham and cheese on matzo on Passover”
Hahaha, I got in a bunch of trouble for this: http://www.alarmingnews.com/archives/007200.html
Your breads always look so fabulous, and I love that YOU love baking bread as much as I do! I’ve been a sucker for Challah since I was a teen, and my Jewish friends would come over for Christmas and Easter, I would go there for Channukkah and Passover. That’s also where I developed the habit of drinking four glasses of wine with dinner.
(FINALLY an excuse!!)
I’ve been itching to bake something for a while, and with the holiday coming up, what wonderful timing! I’m off to make this recipe now, and freeze a couple loaves to bring back home to Jersey for Rosh Hashana dinner. In terms of freezers and challah, though, do you brush it with the egg wash before freezing, or after defrosting? Both?
I’ve always wondered how the braiding was done! I love this bread..and like you said..it’s especially good as french toast.
Observation..you said to roll the dough balls into 12 inch strands for braiding. Is that long enough for a 6 strand straight braid or especially to curl the braid into a circle?
Do you have a pics of the braiding and making the circle?
I wonder if it’s okay to do the first rise/rest in the fridge overnight. The subsequent two rests the next morning at room temp?
Any thoughts on this Deb?
You are being so patient with people who are asking questions that were already covered in the directions! :) I did see that it barely fits into a standard kitchen aid bowl. Did you do it that way, or did you knead by hand???
My question was , can I use King Arthur White Whole Wheat to make Challah.?
You can but I wouldn’t advise a full swap unless you’re okay with it being a bit more firm. You might find a little extra water helps keep the dough supple. In general, I recommend making something the first time with a one-third whole wheat flour swap, and if you like it, go up to two-thirds before going for a full swap.
thank you, that is what I have done, I am in the middle of making it now. I also used some bread flour and found the dough was almost too wet so had to add some flour so I could kneed it. I am looking forward to tasting this bread, it is rising the first time right now. Thanks for answering.
Sooo…is it a shonda for the goyem that I use milk and butter in my challah recipe, making it non-pareve? I certainly hope hot… But I’ll give this recipe a try just in case :).
Beautiful beautiful bread. Just the ticket for the rainy Saturday that lies ahead of me. And if, despite such excellent instructions, the six-strand braid seems too daunting, Cooks Illustrated had a simplified technique a couple of years ago: You essentially make two three-strand braids, one slightly smaller than the other, and then lay the smaller one on top of the larger, pinch the ends of the braids togehter, and tuck the ends undneath.
Those are really beautiful loaves! Hope you have some left over for your French toast! ;)
Challah back girl!
I had it once. The one time I was ever invited for Shabbat dinner. I haven’t been asked back. I don’t know what I said? It must of been Jill’s fault. She probably embarrassed herself in front of her own people.
Rose — You brush it with the egg wash both before the final rise and before you put it in the oven. Step 5 notes that if you choose to freeze it before the final rise, that you should brush it first.
Susan — I didn’t measure to see if they were exactly 12-inches, but I am sure mine were close. Because everyone braids a little differently–more tight, more loose–people will end up with different length final braids. You can always stretch the braid lengthwise or in the case of the straight braided loaf, kind of smooth it to make it shorter, if need be.
Jacquie — You can do any of the risings at room temperature or in the fridge. The only rule is that if you get it from the fridge, that you get it back to room temp. before moving onto the next step.
Kirsti — I did at first use the knead setting but got frustrated with the way it kept winding itself around the top of the attachment (ew) and finished it by hand. However, you can knead it in two parts, if you wish, and then throw them back into one bowl to let it rise.
I have no room in my freezer for the extra loaf. Do you think this would work halved? I’ve been tinkering with a Nick Malgieri recipe, but I would love to try this one too. I use a straight 3 braid, though. Anything else gives me a headache.
I actually just got home from picking up our challah for tonight! It truly is the best type of bread…I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t just fall in love with it on their first bite! I’ve never made it myself though…I guess that would be a shonda :) I really should try but I do have a fear of bread making and I don’t think it will be conquered anytime soon.
Can this recipe be adapted to a bread machine to make the dough?
Yes; I haven’t tried it but I know it works as well as stand mixers for most recipes.
When I make french toast, I only use challah bread. It’s a bit harder to find out here in Seattle area, but there’s a bakery down the way that makes it every Saturday.
Sharon — You can totally halve the recipe. In fact, I would have myself if I weren’t so intent upon give you all examples of both shapes. I have already given away parts of the sliced loaf to the exterminator, the cleaning lady and a friend who lives in the neighborhood!
Going to make this recipe again tomorrow. Made it in December and family was impressed. It was so delicious. We didn’t need two braided loaves so I made the second loaf into rolls with sesame seeds on top. They were so good too! Love your recipes. Will try to make half the recipe with your suggestions. Fingers crossed.
Wow. I have been waiting for a fabulous challah recipe and it looks like this is it! Thanks!
I’ve made that recipe and I love it! Your Challah looks perfect and delicious! Have you tried Beth Hensperger’s version? It isn’t bad at all!
Oh, I just love fresh Challa smell! Reminds me of Friday afternoon before shabat. Thanks for the recipe!
The honey cake will be tried tomorrow, it seem way too good :)
Makes me want traditions like these…
at least there’s nothing about goyim making challah bread!
I LOVE Challah bread, I will try this.
Jess, once again you managed to post a recipe for the VERY SAME THING I was coming to see if you had. Get out of my head. And into my kitchen. As always, looks delicious.
YOU TUBE. There’s a lady who has an absolutely fantastic video of how to braid the 6-braid challah. Find a video demo online.
I make a similar recipe and just love to make it because it’s so lovely, braided and brown. Beautiful photo!
I was going to read about challah, when my eyes zeroed in on the phrase “mother’s amazing apple cake.”
APPLE CAKE APPLE CAKE APPLE CAKE
Margo..thanks for the Youtube demo tip. The video was very helpful.
I’m so glad you posted this, I’ve been thinking about making challah for a while now and now I don’t even have to go looking for a recipe! I do have a question, though — is it one and a half packages of yeast, or one and a half tablespoons? Aren’t most packages of dry yeast two and a half tablespoons? All of mine are. Am I buying the wrong sort of yeast?
*Oh. My. Goodness*
This Challah looks beautiful.
jamaiia- Most packages of dry yeast are 2 1/2 teaspoons though for whatever reason people just round it up to a tablespoon. Nevertheless, one and a half would be about 1 1/2 tablespoons.
Your six-braided challah looks lovely. I have been making the three-braided variety for years, continually taking the easy way out. I, like Dana, opt for the milk and butter challah, probably a shonda when I served brisket but last year we had a vegetarian holiday so I felt guilt-free. I is much richer than the oil version.
This looks beautiful! I made my first challah back in April and I think it’s one of the prettiest breads out there. Your braid looks beautiful. I made Peter Reinhart’s recipe last time, but I would love to give this recipe a shot to see how they compare.
OMG, you literally had me squeal at the sight of the first photo. Its gorgeous! I decided I’m making challah this weekend, and I’m not even Jewish.
Perfection! I tried several different challah recipes last year and none lived up to the challah of my dreams. You’ve never steered me wrong so this is so getting made tomorrow.
Wow, this tempts me to make bread. I’m afraid! but this is gorgeous.
I love challah and I haven’t had it in awhile…I’ll have to try to make it sometime. : )
i haven’t had any challah bread since i was in jerusalem 10 years ago!!! i keep saying i need to find a recipe and just make it and i never do… no excuses now! i think i’m more partial to the seame seeds, but who couldn’t use a few poppy seeds every now and then!! :)
This looks fantastic. I’m not sure I’ve ever come across a Challah bread myself, but it looks close to our so-called “Hefezopf” (which would translate to yeast braid – creative name, isn’t it?). I especially like the poppy seeds on the top, but wow – a six-stranded braid! You leave me in awe, and a urgent need to try this recipe.
I’m one of THOSE Jews, who make challah every Shabbat, and I’ve tried every single recipe ever including Joan Nathans. Nothing, but nothing tops the recipe in the original Jewish Catalog, the one with the orange cover. It’s a dairy recipe, but it tastes just as good if you use margarine instead of butter. But I HIGHLY recommend using the butter one time, so you can taste the most excellent, sweetest, delectable Challah on the earth.
Little known fact about me: I used to live across the street from Alan Ginsberg, the poet, and he told me that my challah was the best he’d ever had. Now that’s a recommendation!
We finally made it. We loved this recipe from the get go and baked it several times trying ways to make it lighter and fluffier. Well… today we finally achieved it by using pastry flour instead of all purpose. Was heavenly, but the braid shape was lost after the challah was out of the oven. Do you think a mix of 50% all purpose and 50% pastry flour might work well? Forever your cheerleader!
Margalit, can you post up a link to this recipe? Can anyone??
I just went hunting for it myself! If Google is not lying to me this is from the book with the orange cover. :-)
I recommend YouTube, too. This is a good one but I recommend fast forwarding to 2:10 (unless you want to watch a 2-minute explanation of how to divide a lump of dough into 6 pieces):
Thank you for sharing. I look forward to hearing about your mother’s apple cake, too.
looks great but not as much as the honey cake
What a beautiful bread!
Like brioche, challah, when a bit stale (or not! Who can wait that long?) makes a lovely bread and butter pudding. Get an ovenproof dish – I use a Pyrex casserole dish, but I’m abnormal- and butter it. Cut slices of the bread and butter them. Lay the slices in layers in the dish, overlapping slightly. When you reach the top of the dish, stop.
In another bowl or a large measuring cup, beat about four eggs and two cups of milk with a generous grating of nutmeg, a teaspoon of vanilla extract and about half a cup of sugar or less. Add a dollop of your favourite booze, if you like: whiskey or bourbon is good, as is rum, brandy or Bailey’s (yum!).
Pour this slowly over the bread and allow to steep for about half an hour, while you turn the oven on to 180 C or 350 F. Cook for 45 minutes, or until it’s puffy and browned. It’s a good idea to put it on a sheet or pan, in case of overflow (I’m not always a good judge of volume.)
Eat it hot or cold. Hot is best, with a little cream or ice cream.
You can, if you’re really feeling decadent, smear the pieces of bread with orange or ginger marmalade after buttering them, or scatter raisins, currants or nuts between the layers. I’ve made this with regular bread, brioche, challah and croissants, and haven’t found a bad variation yet (not that I was looking!)
I am off to make a challah!
btw…I make Kreplach every year…I stick a piece of flanken in my chicken soup, and save after draining the soup…
saute a large onion in a little …ssshhhhhh…chicken fat, that I skim from the soup…ok… you can use canola oil…shred in the flanken, season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Whiz it in the food processor. Make up a batch of egg noodle dough…your favorite recipe. I roll the dough out into sheets with my hand cranked pasta machine….cut into squares…add about a teaspoon of the meat filling ,wet edges and seal into a triangle….drop into boiling
water….they will float when done….thats it really…warm up in your soup before serving….Rosh Hashana heaven!
Thanks. I’ve been waiting for you to post this. Sweet New Year to you! Thanks for sharing.
Sorry. I just had to say it.
Also…………leftover challah makes excellent bread pudding!
Deb, this post is so funny to me because I’m converting to Judaism (I know, with my last name who would have guessed that Myles Standish is my great (x5) grandfather. Oh, America.). Anyway, I came back to print out the honey cake recipe saw the challah and thought. “Great, Deb is going to usher me through all these new holidays!” Only to find out that this is a new trend for SK. Keep them coming because I need all the help I can get. :-)
I used to adore making Challah when I was in high school. We had a bread machine and I scoffed at it and would make my beautiful braided loafs … I haven’t made one in at least 10 years though, and this makes me think I should start again!
I’ve been searching for a great challah recipe with Rosh Hashanah coming in the next few days… we have a great bakery to get it from, but I’d love to make it at home and this sounds like a great way to start.
I’ve made challah a few times, but never with raisins! This I must try
I love baking challa bread!!! I always make the Wolfgang Puck recipe from this book: http://www.ecookbooks.com/p-6149-wolfgang-puck-makes-it-easy.aspx?affiliateID=10116 .
Jewish cooking: I just posted a recomendation for a cookbook with wonderful recipes on my blog: Jewish Cooking For Dummies cookbook – http://wflavors.blogspot.com/2008/09/jewish-cooking-for-dummies-cookbook.html
oh wow. this is stunning. looks like a great recipe.
I’m making your ricotta pancakes tomorrow for breakfast. I’m never good at these kinds of things. by the time I figure out how to cook the pancakes properly, I’ve eaten 100 of them and can’t bear to look at the griddle any longer. alas. I’m going to try to have patience.
That is by far the best looking challah bread I’ve ever seen. Excellent work and presentation, I just want to rip a piece off of that wonderfully chewy eggy bread…
Beautiful challah! Even though yeast scares me, I will attempt to make this today! I also would love to try the recipe for the apple cake- I just had a slice of one for the first time from a local bakery and it was amazing!
My son Ezra (age 12) has been baking challah all by himself for over a year and a half. When I saw that he took an interest in the whole yeast process whenever I baked, I taught him how to do it step by step. He now sells up to 22 challahs every other week and is donating the money to a charity – all this in honor of his upcoming Bar Mitzvah. Since he began baking, he’s gotten so good at it (not great at the clean-up part, but what can I do?) that he claims his challahs are better than mine (and I bake professionally!) He’s begun adding flavors to his challahs, and now his rosemary/garlic/olive oil challahs are the local rage. Since he only makes 22, he turns many people away and people call early on in the week to make sure to place their orders. The thing about making challah well is knowing that although dough is rather forgiving – too sticky just add flour, too dry add liquid – is that you have to develop a feel for it in your hands. You can judge a good dough by its elasticity, its weight and its soft and slight stickiness. As my grandmother used to say, the dough, when risen should be as soft and puffy as a newborn baby’s bum (she said it in Yiddish, so it was pretty funny) Teach your kids to make challah – it impresses most adults and children alike when a young child is able to pull it off well and it gives the kid a kind of confidence they won’t get anywhere else.
Deb you were reading my mind!
I actually searched for Jewish recipes on here 2 days ago! (after seeing the honey cake recipe and figuring you must too be a nice jewish girl)
Definitely making the honey cake and the round challah for the holiday!
My first job when I was 15 was at this cute little bread store and I loved their Challah bread! I almost forgot about it until seeing this post and I’m so excited that I may even try and make it on my own. Yours looks beautiful, by the way!
My husband’s Jewish and so I’ve been introduced to some very delicious cuisine, challah included. He’s away for now, but he made sure to start a “recipe box” on Williams Sonoma and urged me to look at his recipes. Once I saw challah was one of them, I immediately wanted to learn (never made bread before…eeeek!) My mouth is watering just reading your description of the smells and tastes. Thanks for the recipe!
First comment ever but I’m halfway through making this. Just doing the last rise. Horribly, your front page has just presented me with a “Get a flat stomach” ad. Woe is me. The opposite will surely happen. Anyway I love this love this love this. xox
Hi Deb! This looks amazing. I just made your cream cheese kugel for monday and i absolutely can’t wait to try it.
Yo Deb, my challah is in the oven as I type. That photo drew me in–I think I’ve eaten challah about once in my life. Tomorrow morning’s french toast is gonna go great with the breakfast sausage I just bought!
Oh, and my braid is less than half the length of yours–I only had three or four repeats. I made one loaf after halving the recipe and was sure your photo of the full unbaked braid was one entire recipe! I wonder how that happened…did you stretch the strands a lot while braiding?
I am so amazed!! I find such inspiration in your blogg. What photoes!
What text! What food! I am so, so pleased that I have found your blogg. First class! And first time I have made food after a blog recipe. Who would have thought that Manhatten recipies would touch a woman i Norway. I love it!
Mmmmmmm…challah. It truly is the king of breads! I used to bake a loaf every Friday when I was still living with my parents. It’s remarkably easy and non-intimidating.
And speaking of kugel, which is to my mind the ultimate comfort food: I make my grandma’s recipe which has brought tears to the eyes of members of the Tribe and goyim alike. I’d be happy to share it with you–I’ve never had better!
I’d like it! I tried one for the first time last year and it was not…good. lol
I’ve never made bread before, but I’ve loved challah ever since I was little.
My family has never celebrated Shabbat, so I only got to eat challah at temple.
I’m definitely trying this as soon as I can!
Challah has been one of my favorites ever since pastry school…this one looks GREAT!
Thanks for sharing this recipe with such clear instructions. I’d love more Jewish recipes, Russian recipes (Russian Jewish?). You mentioned there was a time when you concentrated on Indian recipes. I’d love to have some of your favorite Indian recipes, too. Thanks Deb and Happy 5770 (?) New Year!
p.s. As wonderful as Challah is for French toast, I live in San Francisco and I love making it with a good French boule like Boudin’s one pound size. The crust will be chewy but that’s OK with me.
I’ve been making bread every Tuesday for the past few weeks (It’s my day off)… I can’t wait to start on this one! …and then I’ll probably leave it out to get stale so I can eat the entire loaf as french bread :)
Wow that was good. My 3 year old son made it with my husband and had a ball doing the kneading and plaiting. Only thing was it sunk after the 3rd rising, so although it tasted yummy, it was a bit flat! Never mind. We ate it as french toast this morning – what a great idea! I caramelised some slightly under-ripe nectarines as well, and put madagascan vanilla in the egg mixture, along with cinnamon sugar. We ate the whole lot with Vermont maple syrup, hoarded from our visit 2 years ago. Really very scrumptious! The slightly tart nectarine was gooey on the edges with dark muscovado sugar, and contrasted really well with the sweetness of the maple syrup and the savoury egg. My kids (3 & 14months) have just sat there in total silence for 30 minutes (gotta be a record!) and wolfed the whole lot down!
Now then, why did it sink? Any ideas?
Hi Jen — Sometimes if breads over-proof, they will sink. After that, the reasons that breads can sink are (almost) endless, and your guess is as good as mine: There could be too much yeast or sugar, too much water, not enough salt, the yeast could be old, the yeast could be freakishly hyperactive or the flour could be past its prime.
You mentioned that you don’t have a brisket recipe in your archives. Please add one! The only brisket I’ve made has been the one from Epicurious/ Bon Appetite “Brisket with Portabello Mushrooms and Dried Cranberries”..which is SO outstanding it keeps me from trying others. I hope you try it, if you haven’t already.
thank you so much! i was just looking the other day for a challah bread recipe for my half jewish boy :D
Your challah came out GORGEOUS!
That is one thing I don’t enjoy doing…..baking bread.
We have too many good bakeries in NYC and NJ, so I let them do the job!
Can you add the recipe for Easter challah that you were talking about at the BDL? The pancetta-stuffed one. And can I use sour cream instead of creme fraiche in the dipping sauce?
OK, I know this is likely a stupid question, but I am making this bread for a Jewish friend for the holiday. I have already made the dough, and came across this website for the braiding directions, but my recipe uses milk and butter. Does this violate dietary restrictions and do I need to bake a new one?
Dee, if your friend keeps a Kosher home, then yes, this will probably present a problem for her. If she doesn’t, you might want to ask if she minds a dairy Challah for her Rosh Hashona meal. For many people it doesn’t matter, but for others it does. The best way not to make a mistake is to ask! Nobody will be insulted if you ask. In fact, they’ll be thrilled with how respectful you are!
Awesome bread! I’d never made challah before and rarely even bake bread, but this just came out of my oven … and it’s beautiful and wonderful. Everyone who loves good bread should try this. I can’t wait to figure out how to use up the rest of the loaf.
This looks great. I will have to give it a try. If there is any left, I am sure it will make liller french toast.
ps. I have a to die for brisket recipe!
Oh man, Deb, this stuff is AMAZING. I utterly failed at wheat bread a week or so ago but this was flawless. Easy recipe and it rose perfectly (I did mine in a warm oven). It tastes fantastic, even though I ate it with sausage :P I also made your carmelized shallots, and spinach, for a really delicious, smitten kitchen-ified dinner! http://flickr.com/photos/girlandetc/2897280680/in/photostream/ Thanks for yet another awesome recipe. :)
I wanted to mention that if you taper both ends of your strands, you’ll end up with a loaf that is pointy on the ends and bulges in the middle (more like how you see it in bakeries). :D
Thank you, thank you, thank you for the topic index! I love it. It is so handy and I love the organization!
I haven’t made Challah since I was a Bat Mitzvah (required learning at my shul growing up)…maybe I’ll try again this year!
When I learned, I did a two layer, seven strand braid. First, a four layer braid (instructions http://www.virtue.to/articles/braiding.html), and then place a three strand braid over it. My instructor explained it was for all the symbolism associated with the number seven, esp. for normal shabbat…
My hero!!I’ve trimmed down my list of must read blogs,but,you have so many things I want to make that your a keeper. I just made the apple pizza it was soooo good.I kept it for the family and promised everyone at work they could have some the next time.( yeah,right) Challah is on the list.
any chance you’ll do a test run of the 2 NYT challah recipes from this weekend (though I don’t think making one loaf from 9 cups of flour is ever a good idea).
Just a quick question Deb, can I do some of these steps and keep the dough in the fridge over night?
P.S. I youtubed you on Martha, I loved it, I also felt like I knew you (creepy, I know).
Thanks, Shana Tovah.
Our local bakery has great challah, but it’s quite pricey. And I’m a fan of using it for bread pudding and of course French toast which you already said. Now I can try to make my own which I never thought I could. Your recipes make me really happy.
Alphie — Great timing, huh? As much as both recipes looked delicious, they seemed so untraditional–especially the more modern one. I’m always looking for the best version of the classic I can find, which in this case, is the one above. [Also, I suspect if I blogged it, I’d get 150 comments telling me that it is wrong because challah needs to be paerve (though we’re not Kosher), but that’s neither here nor there.] Perhaps one day, though…
Rebecca — I note at the end of the recipe that any of the risings can be done in the fridge for a bunch of hours. But I am not entirely sure about overnight as I have not tested it. If you’d like to do that, you might consider reducing the yeast by one-third to give yourself insurance in case 8 or more hours is too much.
I always have the feeling with the recipe redux column that they take a good, reasonable recipe and turn it into an avant garde difficult recipe that no one will ever have time for (I also note that while a dairy challah is delicious and would work with dairy meals even for kosher folks – it does seem weird to write an article on challah and never explain why they aren’t traditionally dairy). I have my standard go-to challah, but am definitely going to try yours this weekend and try to master braiding (I always just do 3 strands.)
I made the honey cake last night with apples – looks wonderful and was a snap to make (and made so much that I have lots to give away).
I made your challah this weekend for a dinner party, and it was a hit! I pretty much just ate this bread for every meal this weekend. Thanks for such a great recipe! Your recipes are always so well written, I almost never screw them up. I’m pretty new at cooking, so that is a high compliment for you considering how many other recipes I do mess up. :-) Have a good week!
I’ve been reading your website for several months now – this and the honey cake are the first things I’ve actually made from it. BEST. CHALLAH. RECIPE. EVER. I was so pumped that mine looked just like your in the braiding stage (well – less complicated braid – but the dough looked the same.) Thanks! And my extended family will thank you when they get theirs tonight! The honey cake? So moist and delicious. And smells fab to boot! And yes – I’m giving away tons at the office – so it smells heavenly today too.
Thanks Deb. I’ll be trying a TON more of your recipes now!
This is one recipe I will NOT be attempting…I’ve tried – many times before – and all I have to show for it is a shallacked loaf of bread that used to be a door stop before I realized how ridiculous it looked! I’ll take your word for it – I’m sure it’s wonderful but I’m not able to bake bread…maybe in my next life! I found something in my travels that reminded me of you and your blog…I’d love to send it to you?!? Please send me your address and I’ll get it in the mail asap – I think you’ll love it! At least I hope so! You can think of it as a thank you for all of the great meals you’ve given me and the mister!
I’m not a Jew, but I am a New Yorker and therefore am lucky enough partake in all kinds of tasty treats from other cultures. I remember about five years ago taking my Pennsylvania-Dutch-born boyfriend (now husband) to EJ’s on the UWS where he decided to order the challah toast with his breakfast and pronounced it just like it’s spelled. I don’t know who laughed harder, me or the waitress. Now that’s he’s officially a New Yorker himself, I think I might bake him a loaf of this bread just to remind him how far he’s come.
A note to Hilary – those braided loaves you may have seen with Easter eggs tucked into them are most likely not challah, but a traditional Greek Easter bread, baked with hard boiled eggs (usually dyed red for symbolism) tucked into the braids and topped with sesame seeds.
I can’t tell you how great that looks! I wish I made bread more often! Your dough looks so perfect and the finished product, MMM i can almost smell the freshness!
This IS a fantastic recipe. I made 2 nearly perfect loaved this weekend. Sooo good, and did french toast Sunday brunch.
very very funny and very delicious looking..happy new year then!
My goyisha husband, who is Italian, LOVES kreplach.
There is no where in NJ to get them for him, so when we go to Queens, NY, he orders them in the deli.
I thought of making sausage and peppers tonight for Rosh Hashanah for my non Jewish guests. Now that would be a SHONDA for the goyim (& they would’ve loved it!!!).
I fancy myself an accomplished little challah-baker, so it’s hard for me not to take the title “best challah” as a challenge. But, I think there’s enough room in this world for two best challah bakers. I’m probably way too proud of my 6 piece braid, but I find that the secret to success when figuring out braiding is to constantly repeat the mantra “inside/outside, outside/middle” and never drop both braids at the same time. It helps to practice with shoe strings too!
You have convinced me to try my hand at baking bread! Thanks for all fo the great tips and tricks :-)
I think Challah bread makes some of the best French toast! Lovely loaves you’ve made!
Yum! This is the same recipe my mother always makes.
Would love to hang out in your apartment (to be swallowed by the aroma of this deliciousness)…just found your blog – truly excellent!
I looks like the hair of Rapunsel.:) Whoa!
I’m making it! I’m very excited. My braid is in the freezer and I’m waiting till tomorrow to bake. I added one scraped vanilla bean and some honey to make it even sweeter. It looks gorgeous flecked with the vanilla beans. Can’t wait to see how it comes out!
Oh man, gimme that loaf of bread, some cheese and a good bottle of chablis. Yummy! It does look like it has pretty good instructions.
I just tried making fried chicken for the first time tonight. hehehe I just HAD to blog bout it. :) hehe And OMG is fried chicken soooo much better when you make it yourself at home. :) My son was so excited when I showed it to him. It was worth making it completely.
I bet he would love this too. I’m going to have to try this especially the braiding part. I love doing that kinda stuff.
Shanah Tovah Deb and Alex!
Lovely blog and beautiful pics!…just found it,
The challah is awesome. Any chance of sharing your mother’s apple cake recipe?
what a great looking bread!!! thanks for sharing… :)
That is the most beautiful loaf of Challah I have ever seen. Wow!
Can I say your Challah looks better than the Challah that was in the NY Times this weekend? Oh lord, if only I lived next door to you.
I made 1/2 recipe of the challah and it was wonderful and looked as if it came from a bakery. Yeast baking is my favourite. After the second rise, I made my 2 braids, covered with plastic wrap and chilled for a couple of hours. They did not rise at that time. I egg washed them after chilling and put into a warm over to rise. They were beautiful.
how long will it keep uncut before it goes stale? what’s the best way to store it if you want to make it ahead of time (Frozen baked, frozen pre-baked)? Thanks!
Thanks for the lovely photo and inspiration. I made challah on Friday, two loaves. We destroyed 1/3 of the first loaf immediately. Ate some more with dinner. The next day we put the bread knife away and just pulled sections off and stuffed them into our happy mouths. I gave a half loaf to our 90-year-old neighbor. This morning I made French toast with it and served it with homemade plum jam. So much enjoyment for such little effort. Bread baking is just the best!
I stumbled upon your blog looking for a babka recipe (which was delicious), and love the rest of it as well. There are so many delicious challah recipes out there, and Joan Nathan is always a solid bet. If you’re interested in whole-wheat challah, I’ve developed this recipe over the years and find it works quite well: http://2hippos.blogspot.com/2008/09/detour-whole-wheat-challah.html
we aren’t Jewish (I’m a pentacostal pastors kid!!) but we love and pray daily for Isreal, so in our home we celebrate our versions of the feasts and holidays … Challah bread is why my kids want to convert! but until now I don’t think we’ve had the GOOD stuff!! thank you! thank you! thank you! now if you can help me with these potato/plum dumplings I’d name my next baby after you!
Oh, Deb! I love challah bread………..and adore using the stale leftovers (if ever there are any) for delightful French toast! Thanks for this recipe!
Thank you, thank you, thank you for inspiring me to make this recipe! It was the most anticipated dish of our Rosh Hashana meal and easier than I thought it would be to make!
Such a gorgeous challah! I love your braiding. Fresh challah on Friday nights or any holiday meal is the best. We had an amazing round challah on Rosh Hashanah!
Have you seen the challah recipe redux in the NY Times? Butter is used! Now THATS a shonda!
I was using the Martha Stewart challah recipe (which I love), but of course I lost it – thanks for coming to the rescue! This one is perfect. I had it with homemade veg soup on a blustery Seattle weekend. YUM.
For years the only challah recipe I’ve used is my grandmother’s. . . so I decided to give yours a shot over the weekend. I halved the recipe because I like to do the first knead in my bread machine. When the bread machine finished doing its thing after 1 1/2 hours, I noticed that the color of the dough was funny. . . turns out that I used King Arthur’s white whole wheat flour instead of regular white flour. It wasn’t challah exactly, but it was delicious.
My kids and I made Challah last week on a day off from school. My 7 year old carefully read the directions and did her own braid! And this recipe is quick too…I don’t think it took any more time to form than a pan of rolls would take, and this looks SOOOO impressive!
“Smitten Kitchen” is becoming synonymous with”yummy treats” at our house, although I have to admit that I haven’t tried any of your vegetable recipes yet. But oh, that dimply plum (or apple or blueberry or plain) cake!
DELICIOUS…the first bread I’ve made in 40 years and the first time I’ve braided. Your instructions for braiding were great (the first loaf was a trial loaf and I got the hang of it on the second loaf. Both looked good but one more professional than the other). The family was amazed to see me being such a bulabusta since I normally don’t do the household cooking. This was easy to make and well worth the time. I’m hooked – I will definitely make this frequently. I have never found a good store-bought challah here in the Seattle area and now I don’t have to look any further. I’ll make it. Your apple cake was also to die for. Now I can’t wait to try your honey and chocolate peanutbutter cake. Hmmm, I wonder how many Weight Watcher points for that piece of apple cake I had tonight:).
I halved the recipe, and it worked perfectly. As I said in a previous post, I let my bread machine do the first knead and rise for me. My hands are slightly arthritic, so this is a compromise that allows me to punch down and knead for the second rising, and still be “hands on.”
How do you keep your braids from splitting when baking? No matter how much the bread rises before going into the oven, and no matter how much egg wash I use,no matter how tightly I braid, the loaf spreads out and there’s spaces between the braids with no hard crust.
BTW, I always thought my grandmother’s recipe was the “best,” but I have to admit that yours is better!
I made the recipe and the bread look amazing! But it had a slightly heavy taste and was not fluffy like the Challah from the bakery. Anyone know why this happened?
I have always been terrified of making bread, but I made this and it was amazing and this morning I made french toast with it and THAT was amazing too. I went for the sesame seeds + raisins option — so so good! The sesame seeds got all toasted in the oven. :)
But I only used 6 cups of flour. Seemed odd that it would be so far off what you said it would be, but that’s when the dough held together and started whispering “please knead me!”, so I did and it all worked out.
Try bread and butter pudding with leftover challah… soooo good.
Deb, I LOVE your blog, and your recipes and read it everyday (RSS). In fact today I’m making the challah. I have to say I’m disappointed in the Yes on PRop 8 advertisement on your website. This is a hugely detrimental proposition that limits basic rights and equalities. http://www.noonprop8.com
no on 8 in california
Hey there — I’m sorry. We had seen that ad slip through–which is not only completely inappropriate for this site’s content, but in no way represents our views–and blocked it. We will leave (another) complaint with GoogleAds, as this should not be showing up.
I have the same problem with my braids spliting as verbal_one. Either my braids flatten with no definition or they have some definition but have the splits with spaces between the braids without the crust. Can you help me?
I’ve been wondering why people leave so many comments for you but now I know! I have been baking in preparation for some friends coming this weekend and made this challah bread as a trial run today (froze one loaf). It was absolutely delicious. I’ve never even had challah before but the recipe and your instructions were good enough that I had no trouble. I have some World Peace cookie dough in the freezer as well as a pie crust that I can’t wait to bake. Great site. Thanks for the recipes.
Mmm! I just pulled my loaf out of the oven. Mine turned out very delicious. I’m wondering though if all homemade breads have the same sort of underlying taste? I’ve only made/had a few homemade breads and they all sort of taste similar to me. This challah is really delicious but doesn’t seem to have the same sweet egg sort of flavor I’m used to from store bought. Though, who knows with store bought…is this recipe and the result very traditional?
The only thing I did differently than your recipe was I braided all of it together and it turned into a round loaf the size of the Pan-Normous Pizza Hut box. Thoroughly done all the way through though! When I was rolling out the strands for braiding, my dough seemed not to fit the proportions you mentioned. In any case it’s still super delicious and I’m taking it to dinner tonight. Thanks for posting. :)
Oh Deb, I’ve made this several times now (a Sabbath tradition at our flat), and it’s perfect every time! However, I bought a copy of “The Bread Bible” By Rose Levy Beranbaum, and her challah looked so tasty I decided to try it! What a hassle! Make a sponge the night before, find room for it in our (tiny, UK-sized) fridge, knead, rest, knead again, rise, punch down, rise again, divide, rest, shape, rise again. It also uses 6 eggs for one loaf! Yeah, we’ll just be sticking with yours, though we do replace the sugar with honey. Yay for awesome, easy challah!
I would love to only make one challah but I’m confused how I would halve the recipe. How much yeast and how many eggs would I use?
You’ll need 2.5 eggs, but they are hard to divide. You can either whisk one and divide it in half, or just use 2 eggs + 1 yolk. You want 3/4 tablespoon of yeast.
Very impressive. A perfect bread. I was very doubtful about how roughly you treat the poor little yeastlets at the beginning of the recipe, but I just did it and am converted. A simple and wonderful Challah! Thanks.
this looks absolutely delicious!
i’ve been deciding between making this recipe or
im just a little confused- does this recipe use all purpose, or bread flour?
and instant or regular yeast?
The recipe clearly notes both active dry yeast and all purpose flour — I don’t understand your question.
I made a half batch and it was HUGE! The finished loaf was almost as long as my arm! I used King Arthur white whole wheat with some added vital wheat gluten, so I felt more pleasure and less guilt while I considered the increased fiber content. The peach jam I slathered on top prolly didn’t help, but it was delicious on a thick slice.
I dream of a loaf made of white AP with each strand rolled in cinnamon and sugar, though, I admit.
I loved that this barely needed kneading and that it wasn’t overly sweet. Thanks so much!
I have never been able to make bread in my life – either gooey or hard as a brick!! LOL!! I followed your recipe exactly and this bread was great. Even the braiding of the bread went smoothly. I’ve just began celebrating the Sabbath traditions and this was perfect. Thank you for the great recipe and taking the time to post for us.
My first loaf just went into the oven… very excited. So far, your directions have been easy to follow and following each resting, the dough just grew more beautiful. I am not Jewish, but grew up in NYC and now live in Upstate NY where one can not only find any challah bread, but there aren’t any decent bagels to be had! Thank you for this recipe — if my challah comes out looking partially as good as yours, I’ll be thrilled!
One question: After braiding the dough and egg-washing it, do you leave it uncovered for the last resting? I loosely covered mine with plastic, but it got messy when it came time to remove it for baking.
I just made this recipe…my first challah after many years of buying in the store. I happened to get a call from my mother while the dough was still rising and she told me her favorite braiding trick (borrowed from Jenny Grossinger’s Art of Jewish Cooking). I didn’t quite believe would work, but the results are too beautiful to argue with! For one loaf, divide the dough so that one half is about 15% larger than the other. With the large half, divide into three strands and braid, then do the same to the smaller half. Lay the small braid on top of the large one, so that the beginning of the braids are at opposite ends. When the dough rises again it will appear that you’ve made an amazingly complex 12-stranded masterpiece!
Hi Deb!! I made this yesterday and it was a HUGE HUGE hit! Took it for a party too… Man! I was showered with compliments.. and while that was happening..I was thanking you inside :) Thank you sooo much!! This will be my next post onmy blog,will link back to you.. So please check my blog on Monday :) Thanks Deb!!! I LOVE your blog!! Toooo good!! :)
Just got done making this and it is PERFECT. Even better slathered with a pad of european butter and some nutella, but it certainly doesn’t need it. Just heavenly. And so easy! Thanks so much for the recipe.
Many years ago I made Challah from a recipe that my mother-in-law had. It was written by her mother on scraps of paper. It is a priceless document because Grandma Yetta wrote it and it is her her version of “Yid-glish”. I was much younger when I made the wonderfully moist and delicious Challah from those scraps of paper. At that time I didn’t fully appreciate the significance of such a family heirloom. I hope that soon we can find the original handwritten recipe in my mother-in-laws cookbooks. I found your recipe because I have been searching for a moist egg bread to make Pan de Huevo which is a Mexican cultural icon. Pan de Huevo, egg bread, are round buns with a unique shell-like sugar topping. Admittedly, Mexican breads and pastry are very far from being a strong point of the culture’s cuisine. So I have set out to make a better mouse trap. I will let you know how my blending of cultures turns out. I expect tastiness and cultural satisfaction all the way around.
Today I’ve made your challah recipe for the second time. I actually found a recipe for bread over on Pioneer Woman’s website for chive bread–but alas, I don’t have a dutch oven as the recipe calls for. After looking around for awhile on the internets to see if I could find a good bread recipe, I decided to just return to one of the successful bread recipes I’ve made before. So I’ve added fresh chive to the challah, and instead of braiding it, I’ve twisted it into large dinner rolls. Mmm. It’s fabulous.
well. . ..i just tried the recipe and it came out SO dry I could not get it to hold together enough to even begin to knead. Frustrating, especially at midnight and making bread for shabbat tomorrow. Has anyone else had this problem? I threw the batch out and am going to try again with less that 8 (!) cups of flour. Help!
It could be that too much flour was added, or it was overbaked, or that it didn’t rise enough to get soft and chewy. Be sure that you’re not packing your cups with flour, that can greatly increase the amount of each cup.
I always have this problem with challah: when i’m kneading it is SO sticky half of it ends up on my hands. The bread always comes out tasty, but the dough before its baked never looks as good as yours or anything other show where I’ve seen it made. It just stays sticky. It’s even hard to form. It still turns out tasty in the end, but I am clearly doing something wrong. Am I not kneading it long enough? Too much flour? Too little flour? I’ve also noticed in other recipes similar to yours that you put in more eggs and no extra water (apart from the yeast mixture) and some calls for 2 eggs and another cup of water. Could this be my downfall? Please help! I’m so frustrated!
I would try a combination of more kneading (you can rest it for couple minutes mid-knead, and you will probably find the dough a little less sticky when you come back) and a little more flour. Check out my bread tips too; hope they help.
Thank you thank you thank you :) I have a guilty (now not-so) secret habit of opening a bag of challah and tearing into it like it was popcorn. I just can’t stop. Thanks for sharing this recipe, I’ll be giving it a go!
I made this recipe over the weekend. It was delicious and made great french toast for dinner today. It was my first bread-making experience ever and my first challah ever and all turned out very well! Thank goodness for patient mothers who have made far more bread than me and for patient blog writers like yourself. Not everyone has someone to be in their kitchen and help them with the steps, you are doing a very wonderful thing here.
Want that nice yellow color that you find in your challah from the bakeries? Substitute light-brown sugar for the granulated sugar!
I’m not Jewish, but I work for a Jewish family and I make this for them every Friday – with a few variations. They like it better than the bread they get at the Kosher markets!
Wow, excellent bread! You weren’t kidding about the smell that goes through the whole house. (Actually, I’d better quickly pre-apologize if I’ve done anything sinful or offensive with this recipe. I know absolutely nothing about kosher food/cooking.) I used 1/3 white whole wheat flour (plus a bit of gluten) because I love it so, and I added a tablespoon of dried milk powder to help it poof up. Indeed, I ended up with a giant, poofy loaf that impressed the daylights out of my family as they dipped slices of it into chicken noodle soup. I have a bit left that I brought home, and I can’t wait to toast some tomorrow and maybe make some of the mythically good french toast I have read about. I think I’ll be assigned to bring the homemade bread to Thanksgiving this year, and I might just make a full batch of this and bring both loaves to the dinner. Thanks for a stunner, Deb.
Just made this today but used acacia honey instead of sugar – it’s wonderful!!!! The best challah I’ve made so far. Thanks for the recipe.
Here’s a question I didn’t see. Is it ok to not braid it at all and bake it like a chubby baguette? I mean other than being potentially sacriligious… Would it bake ok? I don’t see why not, but I figured I’d ask.
Thanks! Looks delicious!
After trying out various recipes, I do have to say that this is the best challah recipe I’ve been able to find. Question: What do you put the challah on to bake? Do you just use a metal sheet, or put it on a rack?
This was absolutely DELICIOUS! I cannot wait to make some french toast with it tomorrow morning! Did a four strand braid, and it came out beautifully :) Thanks for such a great recipe!
I live in a student co-op and made your challah bread tonight for 60+ hungry college students. They devoured every last bite! Mmmm, thanks for the recipe. This was super easy to make and super easy to multiply!
I blogged about it on my blog and referenced you!
I have a question, though I won’t be able to apply the answer until my next attempt, as the first is in the freezer, with hubby directed to take it out at 1pm so that I can bake these not-as-pretty-as-yours loaves for our Rosh Hashanah dinner.
When you “punch down” the dough, do you then also knead it again? It doesn’t seem to be the case, but I’m seeing some references to it in the comments. I didn’t knead mine… (That’ll just make it more brioche-like, I suppose…)
I’m SO looking forward to this. I use spelt flour, which I’ve found leads to stickier dough. I had some attempts at challah about 4 years ago, and the time we tried to make it un-sticky it tasted like sawdust. When I was slightly more judicious in my flour use, it was like pull-rolls. Finally, 3rd attempt, it was CHALLAH! Sadly, with no time I haven’t made it since (and therefore haven’t had challah since). Now I even get round loaves!
Tonight I think I’ll bake a honey cake…
i’ve been making this for the last 4 weeks for our shabbat dinner. i’ve been told it’s my best challah yet! i’m making it today for rosh hashanah with raisins. not sure if you’ve ever plumped raisins with port instead of water, but it adds a deep flavor to raisins. i use it when i make cookies with raisins, as well.
I just want to thank you for helping me conquer my fear of BREAD! I was so intimidated to try baking bread – I’ve only had epic failures in the past (the unfortunate brioche incident of 2007), and wanted so badly to experience the scent of warm baking bread in my own home. I followed your recipe and ended up with the most delicious, beautiful challah. I won’t lie – my first attempt was another FAILURE because the yeast was dead, but after my husband consoled me and went out and bought me a new packet of yeast, I finally tasted sweet, sweet, raisin-y victory. This was my first Rosh Hashanah meal and a total success, and I must say the challah was the centerpiece of the meal. I also made Marcy Goldman’s Majestically Moist Honey Cake, which was a big hit. And I think I’m a little bit in love with your site because I’ve spent the last few hours hitting “Surprise me!” over and over again and oohing and aahing over the photos/recipes and printing them out. L’Shanah Tova and THANK YOU!
I can relate…I’m a Jewish Mutha and never have made challah. Now that I’m in culinary school (FCI) I had the chutzbah to try…and I followed this recipe and they came out AMAZING. My daughter helped with braiding. A wonderful experience. Love your site.
Great braiding instructions!! I had my daughter read them to me. Hope my Challah will some day be as lovely as yours!!!!
Ok, I am a total bread-baking novice. I usually leave that to my friend whom I call the Challah King. But I decided this year, after reading the comments, that I should just go for it this year. SO glad I did! Despite having to run to the store to get more flour in the middle of the mixing process and kind of forgetting the 2nd rise (the 2nd loaf was better since it rose while I was braiding the first), these came out gorgeous and delicious. My friend was super impressed! Thanks for helping me to conquer my fear of challah.
This is the best recipe ever. It was so easy. Thanks for sharing. It was my first time making Challah and it was easier than I thought. I just have to practice braiding the 6 braids. I did it on the first loaf and it came out ok.. i always get confused half way through..anyway on the second one I did a three braid. I will have to email you pics on the next ones I make. Thanks again!
I have been making the synagogues challah for years, but recently moved to the mountains (way higher altitude), well my challah recipe failed me over and over again. And these poor people eat it without complaints, no one else here makes challah in the South so they eat it, makes me feel so bad. As I have been making changes to my recipe I came across yours, and decided to try it this week. Cross your fingers ~ because I use mostly Whole wheat pastry flour, some 100% whole wheat flour and some flax seed flour I had to increased the liquids a tad to make up for the ww flours extra absorption. Hope I calculated your recipe right. Thank you for posting it! Appreciating you in Tennessee, Ari
best challah is right! I grew up Jewish in CT and now live in central TX. I love it down here but you just don’t get challah around here. I wanted to show my brother in-law what it was since he didn’t know, so I tried your recipe witha pot of chicken soup, and he definately got the picture. I ran out of flour in the middle if mixing and had to run to the store, and the two enormous loaves stil came out fantastic!! Thanks for the recipe, Gaby
two questions: has anyone frozen the baked loaf? does it defrost and still taste this great?
Ariella I make the challah and it’s fine . Where are you at inTennessee? I had a problem too until I used the King Arthur bread flour. Sure they probably have a wheat.
What about adding cinnamon to the challah? Should I sprinkle on top or add to the dough? Anyone.?
I’ve been making bread for a while and decided to try this recipe. I halved the recipe and my dough ended up a very gooey, sticky mess. It struggled to hold the braid form and when it rose it puddled rather than rose. My room temp was 75F and I weighed all my ingredients.
Can’t say what happened because of course I don’t know what weights you used, nor have I tested this recipe with weights. However, it sounds like more flour was in order.
I forgot to add one of the eggs and had to guess on the flour because I lost count of my cups. Nonetheless, I still got two loaves of some friggin good (not to mention lovely) challah. Frankly, I’m in a state of shock, which I am remedying by eating tender piece after tender piece of the most delicious bread I have ever made.
mm yummy! i added cinnamon and spent a couple of hours making this delicious treat instead of, um, reading for grad school. seriously, every single time i have massive amounts of work to do, like my end of semester papers due next week, i think of all the lovely things i would rather be doing instead (ie baking). i eventually end up on your website and cooking the things that are the most elaborate and take all of my time…i guess i won’t read tonight!! ;) thank you for these super fun distractions and stress relievers!! also, my roommates say thanks too!
Ohhh! I just finished a sesame and a poppy seed challah! It smells WONDERFUL!!! Thanks for the recipe!!!!!!
I have been reading SmittenKitchen for a while and somehow never making any of the food (too busy removing drool from on my keyboard!). I finally decided enough is enough and picked this bread to make because I have never, ever made bread before-and I was in shock and awe when BREAD came out of my oven! I made three medium 3-braid loaves from this recipe, and one and a half were gone about 20 minutes after I pulled them from the oven, gobbled up with butter and some blackberry preserves! I kept saying “it’s BREAD!” and my husband asked-“what did you think was going to come out of there??” It was perfect! I was wondering (I didn’t see this asked, if it has been, my apologies) what you would recommend when freezing-wrap it in tin foil, ziploc it, etc…? Does it matter? I am just curious b/c I don’t want anything to stick to it since you brush it with the egg just before the freezing step. BTW, I tell everybody about your blog, it is food porn of the highest quality! Kudos!!
I don’t think the frozen dough is gonna do as well. Maybe I did something wrong.
Deborah — Did it fully defrost, return to room temperature before you picked up where you left off?
I have been making this my Challah recipe ever since discovering your blog, thank you Deb! One question.. My challas seem to be over-browning. I weigh my dough and then the strands before braiding them..and bake them one at a time, middle rack, on a silpat lined sheet pan at 375 degrees. I put a probe thermometer in and take the challah out when it hits 180 degrees..the texture is perfect but they are just too dark, a hair shy of burned (though not burned taste). I do the two egg washes, using the whole beaten egg. Should I do something different with the rack? Oven temp? Is using the probe thermometer fooling me? They seem to be in there slightly over 30 min, more like 32 minutes. Any ideas what I am doing wrong? Thank you for your amazing blog!
Rebecca, what you might be doing wrong is having the oven too high.
I live in a high altitude environment and put the oven on 335 Fah. and the bread comes out great for just 18 to 20 min. in the oven.
If you are not in an altitute env. put the oven a little lower, let’s say 350 for a little longer than needed and when you see it’s browning on the top and it sounds hollow when you tap on the bread, it’s done.
Give it a try. Good luck.
p.s. I made raisin bread with this recipe…and it’s AMAZING!!
Just made this bread for some friends – what a hit! It was delicious, perfect texture, perfect sweetness. Will keep making this one over and over :) Thanks
I do live at somewhat higher altitude (about 3500 ft) and had wondered about that. Lately I tried switching oils, from olive to canola, and then to vegetable. For some reason, it browned less with Canola and even less with vegetable. No idea why.. do you know? I am going to try your advice tomorrow -thank you! Rebecca
That was hilarious and awesome. What a well written recipe. I had good luck with a Babka so now I think I am ready to tackle the challah
I FINALLY made this. Why did I wait so long? Oh yeah, I just got a stand mixer. Made this last Friday. Then made bread pudding for breakfast the next morning. What! Eggs, milk…. that’s breakfast, right?
“…Sent him home with a loaf of challah, fabulous recipe from the lovely Deb over at Smitten Kitchen. Anything she posts is gold, I love all of her recipes…”
Thanks Deb, it’s great!
I love your posts! Thank you.
Hi There –
My friends and I just finished baking/eating two beautiful loaves of challah which took only fifteen minutes to bake and were a little dark on the bottom, but done all the way through! We baked them @ 375 degrees.
Should we try a lower temp next time?
Thanks/Looking forward to trying again,
Gail and The Girls
Were you using a stone? Sometimes thinner trays can cause breads to get darker on the bottom faster.
Deb, I’ve made several of your recipes and am a devoted fan of your site – but curse you for that butterscotch sauce, I’ve made 3 batches in the past week and am not liking the results in the mirror. The challah was transcendant and the envy of everyone I gave some to. THANK YOU.
Realizing that I’m very late to this party, but I googled “best challah” and my favorite food blogger popped up, so there was no competition! This turned out beautifully. Thank you so much.
Oh my goodness!! I had a bunch of eggs in the fridge that were begging to be used. I thought of making challah since I’m currently on the quest for the perfect french toast and figured that making my own challah would be a good side quest. This was delicious!! I’ve been searching for this kind of bread — soft, fluffy and flavorful with a soft crust. My search for bread perfection is over — thank you thank you!!
I just want to say that yesterday was my best SK day yet…I made this challah (my husband says it’s better than our local artisan bakery), onion marmalade, onion soup, and the dry rub. Every last thing, as usual, was amazing. Thanks Deb!
Deb-we’ve used this recipe everyweek for Shabbat for the last 4-5 months, I make about 20 loafs per week (sometimes rolls too), so the recipe can be doubled, tripled etc. easily, although i can’t get all that flour into the recipe? we use about 7 cups per two loaf recipe for a nice soft dough. Our students like it a tad sweet so I usually add about 1/2 to 1/3 cup (for single recipe above) of honey to the wet ingredients and it’s delicious.! Best french toast too! Thanks Deb for a great easy to work with recipe.
Sounds and looks beautiful. But if you are looking for a quicker and easier way to the same ends, check out the book “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.” You will be making endless variations of great breads–oatmeal, pizza dough, boule, ciabatta, challah, focaccia, cinnamon rolls, whole wheat sandwich bread, etc…–with NO KNEADING. Mix up the dough, let it sit two hours on the counter and you are ready to go or you can refrigerate it and use it over the next 5-10 days depending on the dough, just tearing off a hunk any time you’re ready, letting it rise a little again on the counter and then baking. It has revolutionized my bread making, enabling me to bake almost all the bread we use in our family of five. I know I sound like an infomercial, but I’m not! Now I’m spoiled and don’t want to do so much work any more.
mine is in rising #1 right now, but you’re right to warn against using the stand mixer. My 5-qt kitchenaid was throwing flour out of the bowl and thumping against the countertop, so i was forced to hand mix the last 2-3 cups of flour in. good recipe though! thanks.
Challah makers might enjoy these aprons!
I decided to finally try this because I love challah bread. I have a 6qt kitchen-aid which handled the dough fine, although once I get to the last cup of flour, I usually like to hand knead it in. The dough was a pleasure to work with. Sounds like I’m recommending it for a job. The only part that tripped me up was the braid. At first, I forgot I was braiding and was literally moving pieces over, so my first braid is a mess, but then it clicked and the second braid was just beautiful. It is currently in the refrigerator for the last proofing. I am so excited to try it. Thanks for the recipe.
Today was the very first time I have EVER made bread and it turned out AMAZING! I am a new cook so I thought this would be quite the undertaking but it was REALLY easy! Thank you SO much for this recipe!
Oh. My. God. I just had a warm slice of the raisin challah with butter and came pretty close to having a religious experience. So easy and so incredible!
Beautiful pictures; hoping mine comes out half as lovely!
but, Question: Is it possible that using bread flour would knock down the amt of flour used? I’m halving the recipe, but I would be forcing it to add more than 3.5 cups(scoop and level). No big deal, but just wondering if you had some thoughts.
Lisa — I’m not sure why you would use less bread flour. That said, if you’re adding flour and the dough has had “enough” there’s no reason to add the remaining volume. But this amount should work with bread or AP flour.
Yee-haw! This is the fourth time I have made challah bread. The previous three attempts were quite palatable, but your recipe with the wonderful personal asides and chit-chat made my day. The finished loaves were beautiful and delicious! I made them for the Sabbath and can’t wait to bring them to the table after worship tomorrow. It feels good to show love for my family by presenting them with truly great tasting and beautiful looking meals.
Thank you and Shabbat Shalom!
Deb you were NOT kidding about the scent,My house smells like how heaven should, As soon as it was out of the oven I slathered a piece with raspberry jam and nutella
Thank you for all of the amazing inspiration, and confidence to try this gorgeous bread. I kinda wish everyone would read your recipes through before posting questions, though. I had great luck with you tube videos for braiding demos. Thanks again, I look forward to reading your blog every day!
I am taking Challah to a class I am in for a presentation (on Jewish families) and I was so nervous that I would screw it up, I decided to do a trial run this past weekend. As it turns out, this recipe was so easy to follow! I thought I would struggle through braiding the bread, but the instructions were so clear, I had no problems at all! I was glad I made this ahead of time because my boyfriend and I were able to enjoy the bread all to ourselves! I highly enjoyed using it for french toast! Now, I am going to try the chocolate babka recipe and bring that as well! Thank you so much for this fabulous website. I have recently found my desire to cook and, while looking through all the recipes, you provide me with new ideas to try and easy instructions to follow!
Thank you so much for sharing this fabulous recipe! I made it for Shabbat, and it turned out perfect! I will be using it again and again.
This bread ended up using 3/4 of the space in my oven.. and it was fantastic! TOTALLY worth the few hours’ waiting time, thank you so much for posting it. We’ve eaten 2/3 of the loaf and I only made it 2 days ago!
I just tried this recipe, and I am a first time bread maker! It made two huge loafs of bread that my partner and I will munching on for a while!
Thanks so much for your amazing blog!
Can’t wait to try this. will be praticing twice before the holidays to be perfect.
I made this over the weekend – and it tastes so good. You directions are fantastic. I am a first time bread maker and did it all by hand. The consistency is a bit dense – any suggestions what I can do better next time? Would a mixer make it better?
Thanks so much!
Here’s a great video on how to braid a six strand loaf.
This looks so fabulous! If I made this on Saturday will it still be fresh on Sunday afternoon for Easter? Curious how quickly it dries out, anyone know?
Rene — It should be fine. But be careful not to bake it past just-done or it is more likely to dry out by day 2.
I just have to say, “thank you”! This is the second bread recipe I have tried from your site and I believe they were the two most successful breads I have attempted in the last 27 years of marriage. And I have baked alot of bread in those many years:) Your answering all the questions in the comment section, is so helpful, too. I froze my Challah like you suggested taking it out the night before. By morning it had risen and I had fresh bread without all the work on the day of our family celebration.
Wonderful, easy recipe!
I pulled mine out of the oven just a few hours ago, and already my boyfriend and I have managed to eat a half loaf of the moist, flakey, almost croissant-like textured bread.
I baked both loaves, and then wrapped one well and put it in our freezer – I’m hoping it will be as good when we defrost it. I think next time I will make four 3-strand braided loaves, as my 6-stranded ones were very wide and somewhat on the short side.
I didn’t change much, other than the braiding tactic (I would say I attacked the braiding step rather than reading the directions patiently…), but I did use almost a cup less flour than you mention in the overall recipe.
I made this a few weeks ago following the recipe exactly, and got two beautiful, delicious loaves. Today, I made just one loaf with half whole wheat and half all purpouse flour. I also added some gluten (+/- 2 tablespoons) to the dough. This challah is beautiful as well, and the house smells wonderful. However, I think I’ll stick with all white flour next time. This one is very yummy, but just not the same light, sweet loaf as before.
Thanks for the recipe! I never would have had the nerve to try this before reading your post.
Great challah! I am making it as we speak! Thank you for an easy to fallow recipe, I am sure my family will love it!
I put raisins too early, I hope it will be fine. Rising in the fridge… I was wondering about the raisins, so I asked my aunt, she told me to put later, but for some reason it didn’t make sense to me, and I put them with the 4th or 5th cup of flower. No wonder they were getting mushy…
And so now my challah is all ready, just out of the oven. It came out perfectly well, nevertheless! Thank you, big thank you, for a great recipe. To make this bread is considered a difficult job, but you made it all easy breasy! I almost wish I could put a picture to prove it! It’s going to my recipe book, which I write by hand. The recipes are so precious that I am scared to lose it by using bookmarks or favourites. Thank you once again from my son and me!
I want to thank you for this fab recipe, I’ve used it several times now having lost my scrap of paper with my usual recipe and needing something full-proof. I’m a religious studies teacher in England and make this for my class of 15year olds doing Jewish studies. They LOVE it, it is waffled down in seconds. Thank you!
I made this last week for Shavuot and it was amazing! Everyone wanted the recipe they were so impressed. I couldn’t quite figure out the braid, so I faked it and it didn’t matter.
Tried to make this today (dough is rising in the fridge now), but I had problems with the dough being really sticky. I halved the recipe, and looking at it a second time, I realized that I only used 1/2 *tea*spoon of salt, instead of 1/2 *table*spoon. Is it possible this was part of the problem/will it ruin the result? thanks.
Good grer Deb I felt like a child jumping up and down in my kitchen as I watched this bake…ive never felt more inclined to scream at the top of my lungs “look what I can do!” I’m 22 and this is my first bread making attempt ! I can’t believe how great this feels! Thank you thank you thank you! My little heart skips with joy: )
Just found this recipe now through the “Surprise Me!”. After finishing reading the recipe (looks great! Can’t wait to try!) I obviously went straight over to the “Topic Index” to see if you have now created a Jewish section. I was surprised and disappointed to see that you hadn’t. But then I remembered that you do have a “Recipe Index” section and found a “Jewish” link there. Anyway, all this to say that your Topic Index and Recipe Index are at odds with each other, and the topic index seems to be out of date. Or maybe I’m just the most OCD reader you have! I love your blog, I love the recipes!, I love the layout, and I love all your search/category options!
JF — All Topic Indexes (which were not intended to be exhaustive, just selective for seasons or themes) are hideously out of date, you are correct. The Topic Indexes are manually updated — perhaps before I had a baby I thought I’d have time for things like this? — the Recipe Index is done automatically. I’ve considered just ditching the Topic Indexes so they’re not misleading but then I’d throw away the dozens of hours we’ve already spent assembling them. So, uh, that’s where we’re at. Sharp eye you’ve got!
Hey Deb! I’m a student at Los Angeles and this is the first time commenting but I just wanted to let you know that your website has inspired me so much to cook and experiment in the kitchen. I am eternally grateful to you for helping me relieve stress (with the insane workload…ugh) and satiate my friends with the bounty I heap upon them weekly. I’m in the process of making this challah and I was overcome with the need to let you know how wonderful you are. Have a great day!
Deb, I have two questions for you about this recipe. Also, I love your website; boyfriend last night commented to me, “Cait, you and that site are having a serious love affair.”
Anyway, my questions!
1) I’ve made challah before, but with a different recipe. This one came out a little cakier and more dense, BUT I also used about 7c. of flour and only one packet of yeast. Could this be why?
2) I have the absolute worst time braiding challah, between the stickiness of the dough and its heaviness – a lot of times, the strands will be too heavy when I lift them and will break apart. Do you have any suggestions? I addressed this last night by putting olive oil on my hands and on the cookie sheet, and that helped somewhat with preventing the dough from sticking too much. Still, my loaves don’t look anything like yours.
cait — Sounds like you’re not getting enough rise out of your dough. You can let it go longer, or nudge up the yeast amount. But the density/heaviness is often about rise, and sometimes about working too much flour in.
Okay, I’ll have to bake this again soon so that I can test that out. For what it’s worth, this recipe is delicious (even without enough rise)!
just got a new cook book. My wife saw the recipe for this bread and thought if I sprinkled sugar on it instead of poppy seeds it might taste like her favorite bread from the Philippines. I never made any bread before — Hopefully it turns out like she hopes.
I halved the recipe and made this challah last week. It was delicious and very easy to do. Also, it made wonderful french toast. However, I and my husband prefer a slightly sweeter version. I was thinking of substituting honey for the sugar but I am not sure of the corect proportions or if this will give us the extra sweetness we remember from our childhood. We do not want it too sweet though. Any suggestions?
If I double the amount of flour, do I just double all the other ingredients too?
Just made this bread this morning. I used added cranberries and orange zest after the second rising (before braiding) and then sprinkled it with flake salt, rock sugar, and pumpkin spice. They turned out great! Thank you.
Deb, did I ever tell you that this post cemented my personal faith in bread baking? I was convinced I couldn’t ever make bread of any kind, until this recipe, which comes out perfectly every single time.
And thank you a million times over for the braiding instructions with pictures! Now I can braid beautiful challah for my Jewish husband like a frum girl, instead of the shiksa I am!
Made this yesterday and it turned out great! Can’t wait to make it again for the holidays next week! I had a lot of trouble rolling out the dough to braid it though, and ended up just making a plain loaf. Any tricks for rolling out the dough? Mine was still too stick but I felt like I had already added a ton of extra flour.
Hi, long-time-lurker first-time-commenter here. Just wondering if instant yeast is an appropriate substitute for active dry yeast in this recipe. Would you do anything differently with the yeast, because usually when I use instant yeast I just throw it in with all the other ingredients and don’t proof it with hot water/sugar. Any ideas? I have a huge bag of instant yeast and don’t want to go buy active dry if I don’t need to. Thanks. PS LOVE your blog.
Someone WAY back in 2008 commented about it being “wrong wrong wrong” to put Easter eggs in challah… You’ve probably actually seen Paska Bread… it’s an Eastern European bread that’s an Easter tradition. The dough is *similar* to challah, although it uses dairy. I’ve seen it with Easter eggs braided into it…
I’m going to bake my first challah tomorrow. I’m undecided about the raisins… and I might actually make three smaller loaves instead of two normal ones… a raisin, a plain, and a (gasp!) cranberry. Thoughts?
Oh… and I think I might have come up with a “cheat” for a six-strand braid for those of us too ADD and/or impatient to do the proper one above… I’m going to roll out six strands, twist them into twos, and then do a three-strand braid of sets of twos… make sense?
This was the first smitten recipe that I ever attempted (long time reader and drooler however.) I’ve made it a number of times, and loved each and every loaf. However, my husband asked me to stop making it because it “wasn’t healthy.” He is becoming one of those nutrient eaters that has forgotten that taste and joy also come from food. But alas, I subbed half the white flour for wheat, added an extra pinch of dark brown sugar and then rolled the strands in cinnamon (I made 6 tiny three-braid loaves because I sort of enjoy individual portions to take to work.)
WOW. Without the cinnamon, my loaves lacked that “challah” taste. But with a little something to suggest the additional sweetness (without actually kicking up the sweet) the whole wheat isn’t so bad. I even kneaded Bob Red Mill 5 grain cereal (instead of raisins) just to give him a “multigrain” challah experience. I’d like to congratulate myself for being so creative, but this is more like passive aggressive baking that worked out.
I’m in Murfreesboro Tn. Think someone asked like last year and I just saw it or answered & don’t remember. Still making your challah except now my daughter says oooh challah when is it gonna be ready????
I also have extra dough for pizza…I’m gonna try rolling it in cinnamon..the leftovers will be great for french toast.
Made this today for Rosh Hashana. I’ve made lots of challah before, and this was certainly one of the nicest recipes! After the first 1 hour rise, I punched the dough down and put it in the fridge for about 90 minutes for the second rise (out of necessity, as I had to run off to the dentist) and then braided the loaves and left them for the third rise. At 375F, the two loaves were out after 25 minutes, although next time I’ll check them at 20, as the bottom of one was just starting to get a bit too dark. (Just goes to show how ovens can vary.) Also, I misread the recipe and instead of putting 4 eggs in the dough and using the 5th for the egg wash, I put all 5 eggs into the dough and used a 6th for the wash, but it didn’t seem to matter at all, as the taste and texture was excellent. Thank you!
I made this with the help of my Jewish friend to help her celebrate Rosh Hashana and we are so delighted with the results. I hadn’t any measuring spoons or cups and had to guess most of the measurements, but despite this, this far and away surpassed my expectations. The only change I would make is to stick a pan on the lowest rack to absorb the heat so the bottom doesn’t get too dark. This was wonderful, and really made my friend’s holiday feel holiday-like. She even said it reminded her of her grandmother’s challah. I have now overcome my fear of braided bread. Thank you. :)
Great Challah recipe! Thank you!
I’m new to meeting you and yours. I had an obsessive yen to bake challah that started at 3:30 pm, and I finally got enough eggs by 5:30 pm. Then, I found you. Before I baked your challah, I looked around and found your latke recipe. Since it was EXACTLY the same as my mother’s, and because I liked you and your writing, and how your father helps out on the ole syntax, I jumped in with you, starting like a lunatic at 6 pm. Just took it out, and can’t stop eating it. Deb, I am so happy I found you! Wonderful wonderful. I’ve made challahs, oh, maybe 5 times over the last 40 years, but, yours takes the cake, so to speak. I’m a New Yorker happily living in New Hampshire, but I miss as you call it “my people” and all that comes with them, so I’m glad I found you, your wit, your pen and your food! Did I mention how absolutely THE BEST your challah recipe is?!
Oh. P.S. 30 minutes was too much but the challah’s perfection carries it nonetheless!
Is this Challah Chewy and Dense? I’ve been ready recipes online and they say to make it chewy and dense you need ‘starter’. Which, I’ve never heard of. Nonetheless I need to bake this Challah tonight for tomorrow and was wondering if there are tips for making it..chewy and dense and moist. Thanks! Olga
Thanks so much for this great recipe. I had to watch a video tutorial on how to braid it but it turned out great and I am feeling extremely happy with myself.
A couple of years late to the challah-party, but wanted to say THANKS! 3yo and I made this afternoon and it’s cooling now. We’re really excited, both because our loaves look bee-you-ti-ful and because after so long drooling over your recipes I’ve finally made one (ok, it’s just me who’s excited about the last one, not the small child). THANK YOU for all yummy, great, inspiring recipes and posts.
Hi.I’m hoping you respond to this even though it’s not directly related to this post … I need a recipe for an etrog cake. You know the citrus fruit from Sukkot? I was wondering if you have any ideas or suggestions otherwise I’ll just make a lemon cake with my etrog instead. I’m in college and part of the Jewish Student Union. As I’m the resident baker of the JSU, and the guy studying to be the rabbi, our president, handed me the etrog last Friday and said to work my magic. Yes. I’m nervous.
Ahh…Challah Egg bread. There is no taste so delectable than Challah. Even better with melted chocolate chips that our local Jewish Bakery uses. It is great for a bread pudding too. Yumm…
I made your challah for this past shabbat – it was a big hit! It stayed wonderfully fresh over lunch and seuda shlishit (third meal), even. I ended up using 6.5 cups of flour instead of the 8; the dough was getting a little bit dry. The only problem I had was that it didn’t rise nearly as much as other challah recipes I’ve tried. I did a little bit of research (http://attheveryyeast.blogspot.com/2009/04/salt-aka-yeast-killer.html) and it seems that adding salt to a liquid solution with yeast ends up killing a fair percentage of the little guys! There seem to be two solutions:
1. Most recipes mix the salt with the flour before adding the dry ingredients
2. Alternatively, leave the salt out (along with a little bit of flour, leaving a wet dough) and do a quick first rise (from Cook’s Illustrated Focaccia). Then, mix in the salt and the flour.
Or, maybe I’m just doing something wrong :P
Hi Leora — Not sure why yours was dry or why you didn’t get the right rise (I usually have the opposite problem; this uses a good amount of yeast and in my warm kitchen, tends to rise too fast and quite big). As for salt, you don’t want to add it at the very beginning — that’s why you proof the yeast with sugar and water, and never with salt — but after that, it’s “activated” and it’s fine to use salt. All bread recipes use salt.
I’ve made challah bread a dozen or so times using your recipe and a few others recipes (include the one in Bread Baker’s Apprentice) but for some reason I can’t seem to get the bread as soft as the ones you get in the bakeries. The dough feels soft and pliable when I’m kneading it, rises well and bakes up well. For some reason, it tastes dry. Am I over flouring? not enough liquid? baking too long? Any advice? Thanks!
It could be overflouring or overbaking. You might not need the full amount of flour. In fact, you should always err on the side of a slightly sticky dough — it’s scarier to work with but makes lighter and more moist breads. Think about adding the flour to the outside (like, when you’re braiding it) of a dough versus working it into the dough (when you’re making it) so it can be used to keep the dough off the counter but can be brushed off so the dough doesn’t get tough.
does it matter if we use sea salt/ kosher salt/ etc? just wondering what you recommend?? thank you for specifying vegetable oil as it tastes better than with the canola oil i used the first time. (i’ve done both)
thank you for clarifying the salt!
i love you!
The recipe is for table salt (the default when nothing is specified). No reason you cannot swap other salts, but you’ll want to increase the quantity of a coarse salt to get the same saltiness as a tablespoon of fine salt.
As I’ve been waiting for my baby to arrive (any day now) I started making challah. This is by far the BEST of several recipes I’ve tried. The flavor and texture are great and the dough is very easy to work with. We look forward to having the second loaf on our first shabbat as a new family!
just a tip for those who have never braided challah before and have trouble with printed directions: youtube is a great way to learn. just search ‘challah’ or ‘braiding challah’ and you will find dozens of videos. great for visual learners!
hi! i make this recipe often and echo everyone’s praise. i do, however, have the issue that a couple of others raised with strands splitting/stretching once in the oven (basically the loaf spreads out and exposes the inside, if that makes sense). some online research suggests this could be a result of too-tight braiding, too much stretching in the braiding process (I usually have trouble rolling the dough so do it kind of in mid-air. maybe that’s it?), or too little rising (in the latter, i’ve been faithful to the recipe, so it doesn’t seem likely) — do you, deb, or others, have experience and/or suggestions here? thanks!
Thanks for the recipe. I’ve been using a very similar one or years, but the details around the third rising and the double egg wash were helpful, as was the freezing instruction. And good job on the braiding instructions. I have a little chart that I keep handy, with drawings to help me remember, but yours are so simple! (my instructions were from the cookbook “breads from the la brea bakery” – a great book if you are really into bread). Sometimes I find that I am more successful with these types of bread if I follow a tip from King Arthur – oil the countertop and your hands and then you dont have to add the extra flour – stays more moist.
Deb, this is my go to challah recipe. And it works like a dream every time. This time, although I managed to make a bunch of mistakes (added an extra egg; started braiding as one loaf, not two; put sesame seeds on too early), it seems like it still worked perfectly. I’ve got two gorgeous loaves resting on the counter that happily came out at 190 degrees. Thanks, again!
Hello, I just made this today as a Hanukkah present for a friend. It took 10 & 1/2 hours, but it’s done and absolute perfection. I’ll have a hard time sleeping with that smell in the house.
I made this and it turned out beautifully! Great flavor and beautiful texture. I posted some pictures of it here: http://seddy5.typepad.com/blog/2010/12/challah.html
Made the left overs into baked french toast.. zomg so tasty. In fact, another batch of dough is doing its rise in my fridge right now so that I can bring challah to make french toast with when I go visit my parents this weekend :)
Baked up beautifully last night, I was so pleased with myself! I messed up the braiding, but it still looked nice. What flavor!! Great recipe, thank you.
according to the jewish tradition I put bacon and ham pieces in my challah
mitchell — Welcome! You are among friends. :)
When I first got married we used to make challa every week, but once the kids were born it became too much for me…
Now you’ve got me going again!
This is a great challa recipe, and the double egg-wash makes it even better.
It looks and tastes like a bakery bought challa!
Love. Burned the first ones… New convection oven (AGA), but the second time through: Ta DA!!! Switched sugar to honey and added a little turmeric to up the yellow. What a wonderful recipe. Thank You!
I made this last night – they were beautiful, and the almond-encrusted french toast this afternoon was amazing! You steered me right!
This was a GREAT recipe. Easy to make on a whim and great if you plan ahead (I ran out to the gym between risings!). My oven is a little off so I went by internal temperature. These came out fabulously light, even though I over-kneaded them. Next time I would add a little more salt, but other than that, these loaves got rave reviews with Shabbat dinner. SO excited for challah french toast this weekend!
Just made the bread,came out wonderful.I have missed this bread since living with a Jewish family 20 years ago. It is just as I remembered it! Delicious!
This is great! I made the dough last night. I put one loaf in the fridge and one in the freezer. I baked the one from the fridge this AM. (Just as you said…. leaving it out for over an hour to come to room temp…) It turned out GREAT! I’ve never made Challah before & I really just wanted it for a blueberry “french toast” receipe I have. I’m not sure if it’s a faux pas, but i used 1/4 whole wheat flour & it was still great. (I feel bad if I don’t make things a little “healthier” for the kids sake.) I ended up using ~9 c. flour – not sure if I measured my liquids off or not, but it needed more – even then it was still a bit soft, but it ended up fine. Thanks for the great web site & great recipe!!
Made this yesterday and could not believe how beautiful the dough was — and so easy to work with! the loaves are gorgeous!
I have made this recipe countless times, usually with some proportion of whole wheat flour, depending on what I have. It is amazing, beautiful and tasty. Any thoughts on creating a challah with a subtle orange flavor. Just orange zest? A litle orange juice?
Definitely some zest — 1 to 2 teaspoons? And you could try swapping orange juice for half the water. But still proof the yeast in just water, add the OJ with the other ingredients. Still, you can get the best, delicate, fragrant orange flavor just from the zest.
I made this using subbing 3 cups flour and it is scrumptious! I also cut it into 8 small, 6 braid loaves as it is just my partner and I for shabbat meals. This is by far the best success I have had making challah!
I made this on Friday. It was surprisingly easy and I made 3 small loaves instead of the 2 large loaves. Also, I just made 3 strips and braided those instead of doing the 6 braid (I got frustrated with the dough and it was getting late). It turned out beautiful and delicious. It’s also *gone* – ate on it all weekend and made french toast with it this morning. I will definitely make again.
Hi! I just started blogging last week, and I made this for my blog yesterday. Its gotten great responses, thank you so much for posting such an amazingly simple challah recipe – my mom is officially switching to this one from the one she always used :)
Deb, it has become one of my new favorite past times to spend some time on a Saturday or Sunday morning looking at recipes for the week. Thanks for keeping me inspired to cook. I am going to try the challah tomorrow, along with making a cake for a work party Monday.
Deb, thanks so much for this amazing site! My friend recommended it to me a couple of weeks ago, and since then I’ve been spending way too much time at work drooling over your recipes than I should be. I tried out your challah recipe last night as a practice run for a Purim dinner I’m hosting. Though I’m apparently awful at braiding, the bread was delicious! I brought a loaf in to work today, and it was devoured by my team. Thanks again for sharing!
Wow! This breadis so tasty! This was my first attempt at braiding it turned out nice. Next time I will make the rope s a little longer. Not bad for the first time though. Not nearly as nice as the ones pictured here. Thanls for the recipe and lesson.
Help! I scrolled through the comments and it appears I’m the only one who has this problem. Is it 1 1/2 tablespoons of yeast or 1 1/2 packets? I’m using the standard Red Star brand active dry yeast. Each packet is 1/4 ounces. To yield 1 1/2 tablespoons of yeast, it’s actually 2 and 1/2 packets of yeast. So, is the true measurement 1 1/2 packets OR 1 1/2 tablespoons of yeast? Thanks for your help.
To answer the above question: A packet of yeast is about 2 1/2 teaspoons of yeast. Most people round up to a tablespoon when referring to it in recipes. In my bread baking experience, the temperature of your kitchen has a lot to do with the amount of yeast you need. If your kitchen is warm, you can use slightly less yeast. If it’s cold, you may need slightly more. That may help you decide whether to use 1 1/2 tbsp or 1 1/2 pkgs.
Hi Traca — Stephanie already helped but FWIW, I count one 1/4-ounce (standard) packet as 2 1/4 teaspoons. So, you’ll want one full packet and 3/4 teaspoon from another. If you’re weighing it, it’s about 9.5 grams. Fortunately, this recipe is very flexible and if you use a little too much or too little, it will still work. Just keep your eye on it and look for things like doubling, rather than relying on the suggested times.
The recipe is great – and the taste of the bread gets better each time I “create” it.
Practice makes perfect.
Great recipe, I had to reduce the flour and the baking time to suit my house and my oven. The instructions were very clear and helpful and the Challah is delicious!
How long would you suggest baking if I make the recipe into 3 smaller loaves? Thanks!
A tip for braiding.
I find that you get a “cleaner” looking loaf if instead of rolling the strands into logs that you slightly roll out the dough needed for the loaf into a thick slab roughly the length of the strands you want. Then I simply cut thick strips and pinch at top (perhaps stretch some of the resulting strands out) and start braiding.
I started doing this little trick when I was earning some extra money braiding challah at Hillel. I had to braid so many that this was the only way I could get them done. I also found that I liked the way they looked better, but that’s subjective!
Well it took me two tries, but I ended up with a great loaf of bread! It was so much fun that after the first try (pretty unsuccessful), I wasn’t really discouraged, just excited to try again. I think my problem was the flour. All we had was oat flour, and it didn’t really rise well. Or it was just my novice skills. Either way, thanks for the recipe!! Great pictures!
I LOVE THIS RECIPE!!! I have tried so many challah recipes and forced my kids and family to eat them, some were ok, some were downright inedible, still I never gave up,.. because this recipe is destined to make you forget all those other not-workable doughs.. yay for Smitten Kitchen!!
One of my favourite memories growing up is when my dad would bring home a fresh loaf of challah bread from a local bagel shop. I was addicted to the stuff. 8-year-old-me could devour half a loaf on my own. I had (and still have) one rule – no knives allowed! I love the way challah breaks apart. But that memory faded, the bagel shop closed down, I could never find a place that made the glorious artistic loaf of my childhood. I NEVER imagined that I could make it myself. Its so sculptural and tasty it seemed like it required a master baker.
Thank you thank you thank you. This recipe is INCREDIBLE. I brought my first loaf to a family dinner party, and blew everyone away. This loaf is a centerpiece. At least it would be if it lasted more than 5 minutes before vanishing into our bellies…
my dad who is visiting from out of the country tried his first challah a few weeks ago & LOVED it – so ofcourse I was inspired to reproduce one for him at home & your pictures looked AWESOME. unfortunately, my loaves didn’t have that soft, almost cake-like texture; followed your recipe almost to the T – i had to use 2 cups of whole wheat AP as i ran out of white….any thoughts?
i am currently making this (it’s on its last rising) and the braiding looks so nice. i had it first at a jewish friend’s house, she fed me all the good stuff, and because there is like one jewish bakery-thing in my city, i decided to make it.
(p.s. http://bakingmonster.blogspot.com/2010/12/poppy-seed-challah-for-new-year.html seems very similar – that is, the same. so, i thought you might to check it out, since you’re not referenced at all.)
Thanks so much for another great recipe!
I just made this recipe, and it was great—the texture was perfect—but it wasn’t as sweet as other challah I’ve had. Is this just the nature of the recipe or could I add something (more sugar/honey etc.?) to sweeten it that wouldn’t affect the texture?
I love this challah. But I add a few things from my previous versions that add more flavor –
 from a dear friend Shazi King, put in 1 teaspoon of ground cardamom together with the flour.  From my late mom, add 1/4 cup toasted wheat germ, and swap about 1/3 of the flour with whole wheat flour in its place. From me,  use a favorite honey for some or all the sugar.
These changes will be a pleasantly different loaf from your lovely challah sometimes.
Rochelle in Israel
so yummy, try it….
Hi Deb! This is the second time I’ve made this bread, and it was delicious the first time (I haven’t tried it this time yet because I have to wait for dinner). It also makes really really good french toast. My only problem is that the bread gets super dark on the outside while the inside is almost raw. Rebecca’s problems from earlier in the comments don’t seem to affect the done-ness of her bread, so I was wondering if I used too much egg wash or something. Thanks!
So made the dough but only added around 6 cups of flour as it was getting to dry, left it in the fridge overnight, am excited we cannot buy decent challah here in Arizona.Have tried several, But i havent found a recipe i like yet so fingers crossed for tomorrow night!
Your mother should meet my mother in law!!
I tinkered with your recipe a bit incorporating the best on the web..Love your site. I opted for 1 beaten egg, 4 yolks and olive oil. You can taste when someone is baking with love!
For less browning add no or less sugar, plus you can lower your oven temperature for more even cooking. I don’t like sweet breads and I made this recipe unsweetened and it turned out great.
another example of why I love this blog…and this was the highest rated challah recipe on the new punchfork website…
I didn’t get the braiding thing, but thanks to another poster, I watched the youtube video for the next batch…
I added cranberries to one loaf…
Oh…and I’m always telling people to visit this blog…and none have ever been disappointed…my only problem?…I don’t have time to try all the wonderful recipes you post…poor me!
keep up the wonderful work!
I am always looking to perfect my bread baking skills. I have been yeast baking about 25 years, with very good results–and no bread machine for me! My daughter recommended this web site to me. The challah bread recipe is so similar to the one I had been using, except the “key” tip—–the extra rising in the fridge! I entered this recipe in the 2011 WI State fair—it took first, plus best of show! The judge said she has never tasted such a tender crumb. It has to be the fridge rising. I will make this change to all my bread recipes. Thank you!!!
So i have a question about freezing (not sure if you still reply to a post this two years later, but…). When freezing (after braiding/first egg wash) do you “flash freeze” the dough and then wrap it saran wrap? Just trying to figure out the best way to freeze so that nothing sticks to the dough/causes the dough to lose its shape. Many thanks, LOVE this bread (husband asks for it weekly) and love your blog! p.s. scanned the comments and didn’t see any similar questions… hope I am not repeating!
My Challah recipe is very similar. Just for fun, I added dried cranberries instead of raisins and then sprinkled the loaves with ground nuts.
A question, if someone could help… Like OzarkMom and Sabrina above, my challah came out nicely done, tasty, and fluffy but asthetically so-so. The braids puff up while baking, breaking slightly apart and revealing the fluffy white interior. Thus the pretty egg-wash coat is pushed to the side and the center line of the braid is a much lighter color (I made a three-strand). Thoughts? Thanks in advance…
Hi Liz — I am not sure I followed the question. You’d like to to avoid the lighter parts? I suppose you could brush on an extra coat of egg mid-baking…
Hi Deb- My bread does not look like your pictures. Where you have a bit of lighter bread peaking out at the edges of your braids, I have a 2 inch wide strip of lighter bread that puffed up. I’ll try brushing on some extra egg mid-baking, thanks!
This is an excellent recipe! My bread came out picture perfect. I do have to say I had a little braiding help from youtube. I guess I am just a visual learner ;) Thank You!
This was my first bread. Now I’m a bread baking addict. Thank you for making bread baking not scary and totally accessible. Its so pretty! If someone like me who has no baking experience and is scared of her stand mixer can do this: http://t.co/CoX1Ll9 anyone can.
Thanks for posting this recipe. I bake bread 6-8 times a month to relax and am always looking for new ways to make challah. Your instructions were easy to follow and even though I used bread flour instead, the results were outstanding. On humid days, do you have to use much more than eight cups of flour? With eight, this dough was very sticky (easier to bake a smoother bread) so nearly impossible to braid. Still loved it though!
Avoid adding too much flour on humid days—you may end up with hockey pucks! The dough really absorbs up the flour, and then it bakes way too hard.
Two possible solutions on humid days—-1). Very lightly dust your hands with flour, to handle the dough to braid OR 2.) Lightly spray or grease your hands with cooking spray, in order to handle the dough, while braiding. I have had success with both ways. See if that helps, the next time you are making bread.
Hi Deb! I just made this challah last night and it came out wonderfully! I’ve been craving some challah for quite a while, and finally decided to search for a recipe. Yours seemed like a winner… and it definitely was! Just had a slice for breakfast… and tomorrow I think there will be french toast in my future :)
Thank you so much!
GREAT recipe. I can’t get enough of this bread. It turns out perfectly every time! The challah tastes awesome even by itself, but is also nice with some butter and honey. Thanks for sharing!
Hey, I was just wondering if you could make the dough in a bread machine on the ‘dough’ setting? I have never made bread by hand and am kind of scared of it lol. I’m sorry if someone else already asked this, but my children are crying and my husband is telling me to get off of the computer lol. I really wanna make some french toast and came across your recipe.
Hi Deb, getting ready for the Holidays and I am planning on making this challah again. I have instant yeast, not dry active – how much should I use and does it change any of the steps in the recipe? Thanks and Happy New Year!
Hi Debra — Instant yeast is usually used in 3/4 the volume of active dry. It does not need to be proofed, so you can skip the warm water step (though, not cold water as an ingredient). The rising times might be different. I find instant yeast to rise much more slowly (the “instant” refers to how quickly you can use it, not the speed at which it works) and would love to hear if you find the same to be true.
You’re definitely right when you say that someone else needs to read the braiding steps. I braided and re-braided at least a half dozen times and in the end I figured I’d just wing it. It’s not as perfectly woven, and I had to take it out at 27 minutes (my oven is odd, so taking stuff out early is not unusual for me) but I got that beautiful mahogany sheen to it and the house smelled awesome. I am bringing it to dinner tonight and can’t wait to see what it’s like on the inside.
Oh Deb, this recipe truly is perfect. I’ve been trying a few different recipes but so far they’ve all been a little too dense for me. This recipe gave me a perfect texture, and with two layers of egg wash, it was just beautiful. Thank you, by the way, for specifying an internal temperature of 190. I think that made a pretty huge difference in ensuring that I didn’t overbake. Definitely my new go-to. Thanks, Deb!
Made this yesterday. First time making challah (or any yeast bread) since Hebrew school. I have definitely been bread-phobic even though I love to cook and bake. The challah was amazing! I got so many compliments! I did use a stand mixer and the whole recipe fit well (standard size). Added saffron for some color per other recipes I’d seen. Made one with golden raisins and one without. I highly recommend having someone else read thebraidibg instructions to you if possible. I love yourblig Deb! We laughed at dinner last night realizing we basically had a smitten kitchen Rosh hashanah- my sister made your kugel, my mom made your matzoh ball soup, and I made the challah and the amazing apple cake. Only things not from here were moms brisket and chopped liver!
I just wanted to say that I LOVED this Challah. I’m just now getting “good” at bread and hadn’t tried Challah since a no-knead catastrophe. This recipe was so wonderful, and tastes just like what we used to buy from the local Challah and bagel shop! My family likes it a bit “eggier” so I might add some extra yolks in the future, but aside from that, well, well done!
This looks AMAZING and I’m thinking of trying it for Shabbat, but wondering if I can safely get away with turning this into THREE loaves instead of two, or if they will look really skimpy. I’ve compared it to other challah recipes online, and some of them get more loaves out of a similar amount of flour. I also noted that your baking temperature is higher–to account for larger loaves, maybe? Please help! Stunning photos, by the way…
Just a quickie about shaping round challah. Marcy Goldman has a wonderful tip and super easy way to make a round loaf. Roll a length of 18 to 24 inches thicker at one end than the other. Pick up the narrow end and wrap it around the thicker end so that the thick end becomes the middle. Tuck the tip under the coil and press down to seal it closed. It is not braided but looks like the bakery loaves with which I grew up.
One of my loaves is in the fridge for the last rise (not really sure how long but I do know to wait until it comes to room temp before baking). The second is in the freezer.
A Marcy Goldman note on the freezer loaf. She suggests putting it into the fridge, not on the counter to thaw, then have it come to room temperature saying it is too much of a shock to go from freezer to counter top right away. I will try that because the last time I tried this, I put the frozen bread on the cookie sheet on the counter to come to room temp and it really didn’t rise very well and turned out to be very heavy.
Ok, Deb, I took my challah out of the fridge and let it come to room temp then I baked it. It is delicious but it spread out and stayed on the flatter side. Did I let it rise too much after the fridge time? Is there a measurement of how big the loaves should be? Diameter for the round at the final rising.
Hi, just wanted to follow up on this recipe with instant yeast. I used 1 tablespoon and it worked perfectly. I didn’t notice any difference in the rising time – my house is usually on the cold side so I am used to waiting longer for breads to rise. This time since I had the oven going I put the bowl next to it, and I think it helped the rise along. The challah is fantastic! I’m terrible at braiding though, and the dough rose up so much it obscured most of the braiding anyway. Love this recipe for the high holidays — it’s delicious and makes such a lovely part of the home-made meal. Thanks!
I have made this Challah before with much success. However, I want to make it to bring in as Shabbat Mom for my daughter’s preschool class. If I freeze the challah, can I let it defrost overnight instead of just 5 hours? I don’t have enough time to let it defrost and cook it. Or might it cause the bread to be too flat? Any suggestions?
After years of refusing to even TRY making challah, i decided that it was time. I checked many websites and recipes for tips, comments and reviews.
First, I love your intro.
Second, your directions are clear and simple and cover many questions even before they’re asked.
I chose to make a dairy challah (using milk instead of water and butter instead of oil) since we wanted it for just eating (and french toast) but if it wasnt for your recipe and advice, I wouldn’t know how to prepare, braid, freeze, bake it. Love the part about checking the internal temperature. I always worried about that!
Thanks for helping me make my first challah, which was a tremendous success!
I had spent hours on the internet trying to find a good challah recipe to use, when I finally chanced upon yours.
The challah came out AMAZING!!! Usually my challahs come out dense, lack flavor, and never rise but after using this recipe my challahs were light, tasty,and looked fantastic. Someone even said that they were better than store-bought (that made my day)!
I’ve used this recipe twice already and will continue to use it since it is just that AWESOME!
My search for the BEST challah recipe is over. So, thank you for posting such a wonderful recipe! =)
My braids never look so great but it always tastes wonderful – and the aroma when baking! Just can’t be beat!
The dough was so spongy and wonderful to use!!!! I’ve never made challah bread and I was scared it wouldn’t work but it did and it tastes amazing!!! I still need to work on my braiding but for being my first time I think it was okay. Thank you Deb
I make this almost every week for Shabbat dinners. I have found that it is harder to knead, but even more delicious, with King Arthur bread flour. Indeed the best challah recipe I’ve ever found. Everyone loves it and thinks I am some sort of bread genius for making it. I’ll try the honey apple one ASAP.
Love this recipe. I hope I am not breaking the law but I don’t see any men in the comments. Yay I am the firstGreat bread thanks
I’m pretty sure my comment will be lost in the mist but here it goes.
Had no idea on this type of bread. It looks GOOD, I want to do it at home.
Why am I commenting here? My kids. They make it every Friday at school. No shit. It’s a private, non religious school and they make Challah. They make it “awesomely”. With nuts, seeds, mashmellows and all that good stuff. I’m a fan!
I’m a college student with a lot of Jewish friends at school. Over this past summer I decided to make challah because I loved it everytime I had it at school. I came across this recipe and made it for my family, and everybody loved it. My dad even said “This is the most beautiful bread to ever be made in this house.” Now it’s the go-to recipe for holiday bread, even though we’re not Jewish. Thank you for sharing!
Shame only USA measurements and temperatures are given.
The UK and Europe, in fact the rest of the world, uses metric. Nice website and interesting recipes but, sad to say, only of use to North Americans.
I came across a Middle East recipe which was identical and in measurements that I could follow, the results were very enjoyable.
Everyone should make their own bread, not only is it nicer, it`s free of all sorts of very dubious additives included in store bought stuff..
Mike — I just added the weights. You only had to ask!
For those asking about using butter and/or milk in challah, it would normally make the challah non-kosher–not dairy, but actually not kosher.
Hi Scott — I do not follow what you’re saying. This bread would not be un-Kosher with butter and/or milk, it would simply be limited to Dairy meals.
I just made this yesterday and it was AMAZING!!!The flavor and texture is dead-on. I made the plain, and now I’m excited to try with the raisins. I never thought I could make this myself, but it turned out a lot easier than I thought it would. Thank you so much for this recipe!
as a Jew, I can tell you – this recipe is GREAT!! TODAH RABAH! (hebrew: thank you!) and … SHABAT SHALOM!
1) after first rise you can punch down and then braid, and then let rise again for at least 1 hr)
2) the word challah actually doesn’t mean the BREAD – it’s a piece you take out of the dough, burn and then bless – in honor of people who can’t afford to get a meal … at least that is what I learned growing up!
3) the reason it’s braided is probably bc it’s made in the style of a German bread made in the 1800s
Thank you! Made it for the first time yesterday–fantastic recipe and results–the braiding was a little tricky; next time I will roll the strands skinnier and longer and braid tighter at the start–my loaf had a bit of a wedge shape, wider at the start and narrower at the end. But otherwise amazingly impressive and beautiful and delicious.
Thank you for making all your recipes so first-time-baker/cook friendly. I LOVE your blog and know that whatever I attempt to make from it will never turn out bad. I just finished baking this challah (I’m actually eating challah for the first time in my life) and it’s simply beautiful, in taste and looks!
PS: I cant wait for your book to come out!!
I just made this for the second time yesterday. The first time I halved the recipe since it was a test run and found that a little easier to work with. I probably could’ve benefited from a kitchen scale when I made the full recipe. I wasn’t too good at estimating and ended up with one loaf significantly larger than the other. I haven’t tasted it, so hopefully one isn’t more dried out. I also accidentally used double the amount of oil in the first round and it came out fine, so it’s pretty forgiving in that respect.
Thanks for helping this Catholic baptized, Baptist raised, Quaker educated girl make her friend’s Jewish mother proud!
This is a great recipe. I just recommend watching how brown the bread gets, because when I used a convection oven at 375 degrees, it got a tad bit more brown than I would have like (not like the picture). I had to tent the bread with some tin foil so it didn’t brown anymore.
But other than that, the flavor is great!
This recipe is wonderful for new bread bakers, and I made it for the second time this weekend with my young sons. I find the braid easy to follow, but agree that having someone else to read it would help or even if that part of the recipe were in numbered bullet format that would be cool (thanks for the weights! I love using my kitchen scale on this!). Turned out beautifully the first time — I baked everything and froze one of two baked loaves (is this a bad thing? I typically only freeze sandwich bread), but this time I froze one loaf before the last rising. Hopefully that will work out! However, the one I baked this time did rise too long it seems before I got it in the oven and fell a bit flat when baked…not sure why, but I will be more careful next time….perhaps I was getting overconfident!
I’d love to be able to freeze these, and then bake them. Is there any way that it can be defrosted for only an hour or so?
It really needs to be defrosted until it’s not frozen or it’s likely to brown and bake on the outside but still remain cold/raw in the center in the oven. That said, it may not take much more than an hour for yours to defrost, depending on the temperature of your kitchen and thickness of the bread.
Made this last night, shaped into 30 rolls, for my co-workers. They’re delicious and subtle, and I don’t know how anyone wouldn’t like them. I’ll have to make another batch so that my sweetheart can have some, and so that we can make french toast from the leftovers. Thanks, Deb.
I love this recipe for Challah! I just blogged about my baking experience using it: http://roguedoe.wordpress.com/2012/02/04/the-shiksa-bakes-challah/
Thank you for posting it!
Just made this as my first attempt at making bread. It came out of the oven 5 minutes ago and I’m already eating a slice! It’s beautiful and delicious! I was shocked it was such a simple process! I actually substituted 2 cups of AP flour for whole wheat flour and I’m in love!
I’ve tried making challah so many times before and it’s never ever come out this good! What a terrific recipe. Thank you so much for sharing. Delicious!
This is a BRILLIANT recipe, and very amusingly delivered as well. I’ve tried a few different challah recipes, and this is THE ONE!
Hi! I’ve made this before from your recipe and it was amazing! Plus, everyone was impressed that I made bread. It’s almost as if they think that bread just grows on trees. I was curious, however, if I was to slow down one of the risings in the fridge, about how long would it take to do so? Thanks so much! Love your recipes!
This really is the best bread recipe, and I have now made it around a dozen times. I usually break it into 4 sections and braid and freeze them separately. I realised today that I have gotten to the point where I can make the braid without asking my husband to read the instructions to me over and over!
Just took two absolutely perfect loaves out of the oven – but interestingly, 1/2 of one loaf seems to have already disappeared and my son suggested that this would be pretty good as a sandwich in tomorrow’s lunch. Wonderful recipe, dead on directions. I put kosher salt on one loaf and a mixture of everything seasonings on the second. The house smells like my grandmother’s kitchen from 40+ years ago when she made homemade challah. Thanks so much for the post!
My dough has been rising for 45 minutes. It seems like it hasn’t risen any. :( I kneaded it in a lot of flour maybe up to 2 cups. The dough absorbed all of it. Did I do something wrong?!?!?!?!?
Hi! I have two quick questions, I hope that’s ok – what do you think the maximum time would be to leave it rising in the fridge for any of the risings? And also, if you freeze the loaf, I guess you’re looking for it to rise again during the 5 hours’ defrosting time? Thanks very much for what looks like a wonderful recipe – I hope to make it for Easter lunch this weekend.
I made your recipe last weekend and it was AWESOME! … And boy, were you right about it being difficult to make in a KitchenAid. I’d just gotten it and thought it would be a great recipe to christen it with. The dough results were comically disastrous, but I was able to salvage it. This shiksa got her Jewish boyfriend to braid the dough following your instructions, and it turned out beautifully and sooo delicious! He ate almost an entire loaf by himself, and the french toast on Sunday was divine. Thanks!
I am utterly amazed at all of your recipes!!! I have made several of them, and all turned out FANTASTIC from first try! Wow, thank you so much!
Now, questions about the challah.
Is the bread cakey or more soft and chewy?? Is it possible to add honey to make it chewy? (not chewy chewy, just like a doughnutty kind of soft)
Thanks so much!!!
I never ever thought I could bake a challah bread in my life…thanks to your recipe I did in fact! It doesn’t look as beautiful as yours but it’s delicious.
This is in fact the best challah ever!
thank you so much for posting this recipe!!! i have just recently begun making homemade bread as i have finally conquered my fear of yeast. i was looking for a good bread to make a bread pudding and also to use up some of my many eggs when i came across your recipe. made the best cranberry and orange bread pudding EVER! so today was take two of egg bread, i subbed in one cup of whole wheat flour and added in some chopped garlic and parmesan cheese… fabulous!!! going to have it with chicken and pasta tonite :) one question i do have tho, when i bake my bread it seems that the braid pulls apart quite a bit, is this because i’m not letting it fully rise or is my braid not tight enough? thanks again for sharing your recipe!
you weren’t kidding about it making your kitchen smell just heavenly. it was like…an ethereal experience. and my first successful challah adventure! i blogged about it here http://a-few-good-things.blogspot.com/2012/05/challah-love-story.html
My first attempt at making Challah bread and my kitchen smells like heaven. Thank you for sharing the recipe. I will be making this again and know I will get better each time. My first braid didn’t turn out so well. But the second one turned out a lot better.
I’ve used this recipe a couple times and it’s been great, but the bottoms of my challah bread always seem too crispy or burnt. I’ve been using a baking sheet to bake them on. Is there anyway I can prevent this?
You can try doubling or tripling up on baking sheets for a heavier base that will better hold even heat. You could also bake it on a bread stone.
Just wanted to say thanks for the recipe and detailed instructions. I baked a challah from you recipe this morning. This is only my second time baking bread and despite a bumpy start and numerous mistakes made along the way, it still turned put pretty decent. I think I might be able to get the hang of this bread making business. :)
Thanks for the challah recipe. Just made two loaves… a giant (filled an entire baking sheet after cooking) 6-braid and a 3-braid for the freezer (also giant)! I did four risings and let the braids sit for quite some time before baking/freezing. Beautiful loaves, super light bread and sweet. The egg washes made for a perfect crust. Thanks again!
I tried making this, but the braids got stuck to each other and so I ended up with a giant bagel-like bread. Not bad tasting, but not as pretty as yours :(
Wow! What a great recipe! I’ve already made it a handful of times and each time it comes out both looking and tasting amazing! It makes a great gift because it’s so impressive-looking, and yet a cinch to make! Next I’m going to try and whole wheat-ify this recipe… we’ll see how that works out! :P
Thank you for clear instructions. This looks to be wonderful and I can’t wait to try it!
This bread is heavenly. I haven’t yet mastered the braiding, mine ends up more of a knot, but the taste is fab. Also if there is any left on day 2 it makes the best French toast ever.
Thanks to this post I just made the most beautiful loaves of bread! And it’s my first time baking bread, at that. I was a little intimidated about the braiding, and actually ended up doing the 4-strand method because it looked a little less confusing. I braided and unbraided like 8 times before I got it, but once I got it, it was really easy. Looking at your pictures compared to my bread (As pretty as it is!), I definitely need to try the 6 strand next time.
I didn’t have AP flour, so I used a majority of bread flour and then some white whole wheat flour (I ran out of bread flour, oops). I like to make recipes exactly as written the first time, but I didn’t realize my flour shortage until I already had the yeast in the water. Luckily, it still turned out amazing!
ALSO… I forgot the salt. I haven’t forgotten an ingredient in a recipe in a very long time, I suppose I was overdue. It does taste a bit bland as a result, but this bread’s intended purpose is french toast so I think I’ll be just fine. Thanks so much for sharing and inspiring me to FINALLY make some bread : ) I’ll be making this again soon!
Hi! thanks for the great recipe and awesome photos. I have a question about what the dough should look like when you’re done kneading. Mine never got smooth, even though i used the flour in the recipe. Did I need to knead it longer? is it the extreme humidity here today? Yikes!
Julie — When you say not smooth, are there floury bits? Is it dry? Nevertheless, I think even if not perfectly smooth, you’ll still have a lovely challah. I hope it all works out.
I love it and I do it each week… I am in SFlorida so I use 1/2 cup of water but it is a wonderful pleasure to my Shabbos Ta-belle :) Salome
I’m excited to try this challah bread recipe this weekend.
I have some fresh rosemary and thyme that a friend gave me, and I’m wondering if I can put it in the recipe, along with the raisins. What do you think?
wayne — I’m sure it would be delicious.
OMG!!! loved this recipe, i wished i read 2 loaves before i made it.Attack of the challah…LOL. wish you could see the pic!
I live in NYC and have made your fabulous challah many times, but I am going to Utah to have Rosh Hashanah with my family this weekend and I am on deck for baking challah! Our house there is at about 8000 feet above sea level and I am not sure how to convert for the altitude. Do you have any suggestions? I would really appreciate it!
Thanks so much,
Hi- I’m going to try this recipe this weekend- my first time at making bread! I was just wondering about the 3rd rise… I plan to do all the work Friday or Saturday and then freeze it until Monday but if I freeze it after doing the egg wash as in step 5 does it get a 3rd rise? Step five says freeze OR 3rd rise.. sorry I’m confused and the in-laws are coming!
Hi Keri — Once you freeze it, defrost it. Once it’s fully defrosted, it will have finished its third rise. Good luck!
Easiest 6 strand braiding instructions:
I made this today. It was my first attempt at challah bread, and they came out gorgeous AND delicious! Really is the best challah I’ve ever had (no bias!). I made one braided round with no raisins, and one braided loaf with raisins. This recipe yields 2 huge loaves. The round was about 9″ in diameter, and the other grew into the edges of my pan as it baked. Totally not complaining! Will make this again as soon as I can! Any tips for storage would be great, perhaps in the recipe instructions?
I beat my in-laws in the annual challah bake off with this recipe! I ended up filling the ropes with apple/raisin/cinnamon/sugar (3 apples cooked w/ the raisins and sugared to taste). I am death to yeast, and this was my first successful yeast bread! It does halve beautifully. Thanks so much!
There is no way I can get 8 cups flour in! I can get 6 max before the dough is unmixable, and the dough rides up the beaters…what am I doing wrong???
PS, it still tastes good as is, but I feel like I’m messing up some how!
mj — Do you scoop or pack your cups of flour? This can lead to, of course, heavier cups and will cause the recipe to need fewer cups. But it does seem significant. I make this all of a time with 8 cups so I am otherwise stumped too!
Deb, I have a question. How long does your challah stay fresh? Any tips for keeping it so? Have you ever frozen the bread? What were your results? I want to make this on a Sunday for a Thursday event….
Valerie — I would freeze it, as I often do. Just let it defrost at room temperature for a few hours before it is needed. You can always rewarm it in the oven right before serving.
I plan on making this for the Boozy Baked French Toast recipe for a reunion weekend with high school friends. My question is…..I use farm fresh eggs, they are not really “large” more like medium or small sometimes. Should I increase the amount of eggs or is there some way to determine if I need more by the feel/look of the dough?
Hi Alicia — I use the following equivalent for egg sizes:
1 large egg (approximately) = 1 tablespoon yolk + 2 tablespoons white
1 cup = 4 jumbo = 4 to 5 extra-large = 5 large = 5 to 6 medium = 7 small
Hope that helps estimate what you have.
Thank you so much for an AWESOME recipe! I’ve braided challah before, but this was my first time baking from scratch. I actually think the water I used right at the beginning wasn’t warm enough, and I don’t think my yeast activated (seeing as it didn’t really rise at all in the first rising…). Another couple risings in the oven solved that problem, though. I ended up making one giant loaf instead of two because I still wasn’t sure how well the yeast would work, but from the size of the challah in the end, I’d say it worked! I ended up having to bake it in a giant roast pan!
I really like a sweet challah, so I decreased the oil to 4 tbsp and instead used 1/2 cup of honey. I also mixed honey into my egg wash. The result was a very sweet challah, almost cake-like. It was a huge hit at my sister-in-law’s Shabbat dinner tonight. Thank you for making my first bread-baking experience an awesome one!
Can I use instant yeast for this recipe? If so, what are the measurements?
Hi sana — It’s not an exact science, but I’d start with double. If you do a 1:1 exchange, it can take (at least) twice as long to proof. You’re still going to have to eyeball the times, going by “doubled” etc. rather than the clock. Also: Instant yeast doesn’t have to be proofed (yay) so you don’t need to warm any ingredients. You can toss it in with the flour.
thanks so much deb! I can’t wait to try this out this weekend.
This is the best challah recipe, ever. In fact I think it’s the ONLY recipe worth trying. It’s super delicious, the instructions are clear (made this with my kids) and it’s actually pretty fun. This is the first bread that I have ever made, and it came out perfect. Much, much better than store bought!
Graet recipe, however i am having a problem in the baking as the braids separate showing non glazed area.. taste outstanding, appearance needs help. HELP!
Ever used gluten-free flour? I want to make loaves for a bunch of neighbors, and one can’t handle gluten..
For those who have trouble getting their bread to rise properly, try putting a crushed tablet of vit. C in with the yeast. Also, if you want your loaf to come out more soft and tender with a beautiful color use only egg yolks. Use twice as many as this recipe calls for because you will only use the white mixed with a little water to glaze the loaves. So, use 10 to 12 egg yolks. Use the rest for glazing and for omelettes. Egg white will make the bread a little more tough and chewy so try leaving it out.
I am going to try making this challah tomorrow. I usually make te chernowitzer challah for Shabbat which calls for bread flour. Does it make a difference which flour one uses? Thanks so much
Thanks for this. Made one for the first time at the weekend and can’t wait to do it again. It’s simply stunning.
This is by far my favorite challah recipe. Thanks, Deb! I’ve found overtime that it’s a challenge to do in one day sometimes given the time spent rising. Has anyone done the final rise overnight for upwards of 8 hours? Is it safe to assume it takes about 2 hours to get the bread back to room temp?
Hi Deb, I just discovered your blog by reading the NYT article and was impressed with the photo of your perfect better-than-store-bought-looking challah. Have you ever tried making it with whole wheat flour and if so what were the results?
Hi Julie — I have made it partially with whole wheat flour (about a 1/3 swap) and it’s fine. More used, it’s less tender. A blend of white whole wheat flour and bread flour can be very nice too, but I still wouldn’t go over a 50% swap or it loses too much tenderness.
Love your recipe! I use this as my go to challah recipe. I’ve recently added my own twists to it to create a sweet cinnamon challah.
Thanks for the great recipe! It’s a hit at work and everyone thinks my challah is the greastest!
Hi! I wanted to comment on Lauren’s comment (#416). I made this last night for work today and since it was late I was too tired to wait through the baking process, so I braided it, covered it, and put it in the fridge. I took it out at 5 in the morning, 7 hours later, and baked it. It rose nicely even though I did not let it sit and get to room temp. The bread was fluffy and tender. It had a nice chew and was not dried out or flat at all.
I want to make this tomorrow for Christmas Day Luncheon. How to keep it best so it doesn’t seem like Day-Old-Challah? Tell me please. I cannot bake in the evening because it’ my birthday and I must accompany my partner to the never ending Christmas Mass and then be pampered and taken out to dinner for my personal celebration.
Your ramblings are extraordinary, as are all the recipes I’ve tried, especially the My Favorite Brownies!
Hi! I tried this recipe for the first time and was so excited but I failed miserably! I can tell the dough didn’t rise but I don’t know why… How long should I let the yeast sit before incorporating the other ingredients? Are there other reasons why the dough wouldn’t rise? Thanks in advance!
I have made ten loaves of this in the last two weeks, and no matter what I do, the bottom burns. I’ve reduced the cooking time and temp, I use a thermometer and take it out the instant it reads 190. I’ve tried it with and without parchment paper. I’ve moved the rack up in my oven. I’ve made big loaves and little loaves, rounds and braids. I don’t knnow what else to try.
Hi Bobbi — If you’re using a baking pan, try doubling up for a thicker base. Or, if you’re not already, you can try switching to a bread stone.
Made this last night and it made a gorgeous product. It was my first time making this bread, and it looked like something that came out of a high dollar bakery. Also, the dough itself was quite beautiful, if a little sticky. But certainly not impossible to handle.
If you need a more visual demonstration of the braiding technique, this is the best one I’ve found, and it shows a ton of different kinds of folds. http://theshiksa.com/2010/08/26/challah-bread-part-2-how-to-braid-challah/
Bobbi — Are you using a dark pan? That could have a lot to do with it. Either that or you have a hot spot in your oven.
Oh, I forgot to mention I used instant yeast. It rose perfectly, and the best thing about it is you don’t have to proof it.
Hi Deb – I made a loaf of your challah for dinner tonight, and it was amazing! So easy and the results were fantastic! Thank-you so much! (I actually used the challah for lobster rolls which I know sounds a bit wrong!!!) I’ll definitely be baking this again! :)
I have a “fan assisted” oven. Would you recommend lowering the temp a bit?
& Happy New Year
Diana — Sorry, I have no experience with them and don’t know how they work. If you lower the temp with other recipes, you should do so here too.
I just made this bread and it’s fantastic!
Thank you so much for sharing the recipe, explaining the procedure, and posting photos.
If anyone is on the fence about trying this recipe, don’t be. It’s great!
Deb, I love this recipe! Thanks for making challah so simple – I’ve been baking challah once a month and freezing the loaves. I adjusted it a little to be more eggy by beating it in all 5 eggs (and taking out a 6th for the wash) and I add a small bit more salt, cut the sugar a little and add in honey before mixing in the flour. I am so proud to put homemade challah on my table every week!
I’ve been making this challah for awhile, but it was tasting a little too commercial and not quite right. Then I switched the sugar for honey, and bam, I’m back in hebrew school. 1/2 cup of honey + 1 tablespoon of sugar to add to the yeast really makes this recipe perfect.
Wow, thank you so much SmittenKitchen for this recipe!! I love the blog in general and am inspired by the endless amazing recipes, and I believe this is the first one I have actually tried out for myself. This is probably the best challah recipe I have encountered thus far. The crumb is moist and eggy, and it had a nice sweetness too it. I will have to try honey next time for added flavor. The three separate rises is worth it…I will have to try the refrigeration next time for more depth of flavor. I actually cut the recipe in half so I could only have one loaf…I was worried that cutting the yeast in half would hinder the rising, but I seemed to do fine with 3/4 of a 1/4 oz. packet of active dry yeast. Delicious! I am freezing this bread, I hope that it maintains its texture and moisture.
Sorry to post twice in a row…just wanted to add that the only thing I had trouble with (I have trouble in general with my homemade breads in this aspect) is getting my bread to not fall apart when I slice it up. It seems like only the end slices on either end of the loaf seem to stay together. Any suggestions? Also wanted to say that in the past I added way too much extra flour to my challah thinking it shouldn’t be sticky when I work with it, but I highly suggest not adding more than what a challah recipe calls for, and in some cases even LESS can be helpful too. Otherwise you may end up with a dry, floury crumb.
Amy — Can you tell me more? Does it crumble or does the bread unbraid itself?
To say that this is the “BEST” Challah recipe is an understament. THIS IS THE VERY BEST I HAVE EVER TASTED AND MAKING IT WAS SOOOOOO RIDICULOUSLY EASY I JUST CAN NOT BELIEVE SOMETHING THIS DELICIOUS IS SO EASY TO MAKE! I got oooohs and awhhhs from my family, they didnt even know how I could make such a delicious bread. I looked at other recipes and substituted honey for the sugar. I was afraid this might be dry but it was SO SOFT and buttery )without the butter, I used olive oil). I made some rolls which I rolled out like you would a braid strand but then tied it into a knot. They made the PERFECT rolls for a lamb burger that I made yesterday. The other bread, well that was almost eaten and made into the best tasting french toast this morning that I have ever tasted in my 41 years of life. This is a keeper! I still need to practice braiding because when I finished my first 4 steps I couldnt figure out if I was supposed to go under not over as my braid was on the top? Maybe I will practice with yarn.
Hi Deb, I made this bread recently and it came out pretty well (especially considering it was the first loaf I’ve ever made from scratch). Anyway, it was very dense. In your pictures, the bread looks much fluffier. Would this have to do with the yeast/rising of the dough? Also, it tasted VERY floury. I want to try making it again but I think I need to make some adjustments. Thoughts? Thanks!
Hi Miranda — Did you add the extra 1/2 cup flour? If so, it sounds like you didn’t need it. It’s always better to err on the stickier side of dough. It also sounds like it didn’t rise properly. You definitely used active dry yeast, right? Did it appear to foam a bit before you added it, indicating that it was healthy? In a cooler kitchen, it could feasibly take longer to rise, too.
This is a great recipe. i’m making it for the 2nd time.
I did find that 8 cups of flour was too much. Next time I will stop at 7-1/2 cups.
After the first rise, I shaped lots of small challah rolls and flash froze them. Each Thursday, I put a few frozen rolls in the refrigerator to defrost. I let them rise on the counter on Friday and then baked. They were really terrific!
Sometimes I drizzle a bit of honey on the rolls, after the egg wash, just before baking.
Also – the first time I made this, I used instant yeast (didn’t realize I should use active yeast). I was worried as it didn’t seem to rise enough. However, once it was baked it was really good. However, this time I was careful to us active dry yeast.
Deb – why do you need to cover the dough? Why is plastic wrap better than a towel?
Janet — So it doesn’t dry out. Plastic wrap is airtight and sticks less (or, can be more easily pulled away than something with fibers if it sticks).
I made this challah for shabbat and it was amazing. It was so easy to make by hand. I used a towel instead of plastic wrap and it was fine, it got a little crusty though, which is probably why the plastic is preffered. I doubled the recipie and it still went without a hitch. Delicious!!!!
Great recipe. I used this recipe as a starting point in making Sweet Orange Challah bread. It turned out fantastically.
The instructions for braiding made it easy (my husband read them aloud to me).
An issue I had was the yeast volume vs. weight measurement seemed off. I weighed 1 tbsp of yeast and it was 12g. So instead of the 1.5 tbsp, I just used 1 tbsp. Also, my baking time was less but I did add extra sugar and orange juice, so that might have changed things.
Hi! I am excited about trying this recipe as I have read almost all of the reviews and think I cannot go wrong here! I bake 10 challahs a week (using two 5 lb bags of bread flour) and sell them to friends and family. I was thinking about trying this new recipe and was wondering if you have a recipe for making this challah with a 5 lb bag of flour, so I don’t have to be wasteful with my ingredients. Also I was thinking about adding some vanilla…thoughts?
Thanks so much! You are a very committed blogger!
Okay this is definitely the best challah I have ever made! I have a very picky nephew who will only eat soft egg buns for his lunch sandwiches or hamburgers and they are sooo hard to find in my area….I need look no more! Thanks Deb! (I’m letting some of my loaves go stale for bread pudding!)
Made this today and it was PERFECT. I used half bread flour and half all-purpose and made sure to knead the dough a long time to really develop the gluten, and it created the most beautiful, long, pull-apart strands of bread — almost like string cheese — exactly what I’d been looking for last time I made challah and didn’t get. I also seeded it according to this method: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/blog/2013/03/20/seeded-braids-baby-baby-im-stuck-on-you/, which worked amazingly well. I couldn’t stop staring at it in awe until it disappeared — which happened quickly.
Wow!! Just made this!! This is the first time i’ve ever made bread, but your directions were magnificent – and it came out sooo delicious without a hitch. :) Instead of raisins, I added dried dates and cinnamon, and topped with crushed walnuts. Can’t wait to turn it into boozy French toast next!
Thanks for the recipe! I made a peanut butter bacon version and it turned out very well. I will neither confirm nor deny taking a bite directly from one of the loaves.
I just read Ami’s post about her braids fallin apart; this will happen if you use to much flour to dust your work surface. One way round his is to lightly oil your surface instead this also helps making your dough not too dry and stiff which will slow down the rising time of your bread.
This is the recipe I always use for Challah; I just have to blink and half a loaf has been eaten-by husband and two teenaged sons. I’m just going to make two more loaves – the last batch disappeared before I could hide them in the freezer.
Made this the same day I read it. Delicious,the 6 braid was quite a challenge for me, Finally, but making it again today!!
Long time reading, first time commenter. I’m interested in using your challah recipe as a basis to recreate the Milk Bar chorizo challah. I’ve never had it (I live in Oklahoma) but love the idea of trying to make something similar. In looking at the photos of their challah, and partially out of intimidation of the braid, I noticed that it’s not braided. Can this recipe be made by just forming a loaf shape and baking like that? Would I have to adjust my bake time at all? Or should I just squash my fear and go for the braid?
This is the prettiest, most… huggable dough! It is indeed too big for a regular old kitchen aid. I pulled half out and started kneading and left the rest to the dough hooka nd then combined and kneaded. Made it a lot less unwieldy. Made braid with three pieces because I am an utter wimp and lazy butt.
My gosh didn’t they look gorgeous as they emerged from my oven. I pranced all around the kitchen with the loaves raised above my head in celebration.
I have to tell you that I had only heard about this bread until I ran across this recipe and decided to give this a try. I even learned the 6-strand braid for the bread off of YouTube of all places. The bread is wonderful and simply fantastic when you use this to make Ina Garten’s Challa French Toast with Orange Zest and Honey. I shared this with all of my neighbors (none of which had ever had the bread before I brought it to their front doors)! Thank you for such a good recipe!
Hey! Just in the middle of my second batch of this – first one turned out absolutely perfect, but I found I needed way more flour than the recipe said… Did anyone else have this problem?
Am trying this batch with fresh yeast instead of dried active… fingers crossed.
PS – am in process of converting to Judaism – so I consider this an essential part of my education!
Amy — Good, tender bread doughs are always a little sticky. The best thing is to handle them lightly, keep your counter floured, and not worry about the stickiness. Adding extra flour to the dough just makes for a denser bread.
can you make this into hamburger buns?? :)
i made this Challah for my Shabbat dinner and it was a HUGE HUGE hit !!! i think i found my new go-to recipe :)
Do you think it would be ok for me to just double the recipe ?
Duby — Absolutely. You should not need to double the egg wash.
Oh my goodness! I made these for breakfast and they are way better than what any of you are imagining! Melt-in-your-mouth, unimaginable, scrumtiousness! Thanks for sharing! I had featured U in the post of Top 7 Delectable Bread for Breakfast on AllFreshRecipes.Looking forward to ur more newly recipes!
Deb- You may not remember, but at your Brooklyn book signing, my sister was first in line, handed you my copy of your cookbook and you read my message inside. I was the devoted reader who could not make it because I was at school. How does this relate to challah bread you may ask? Well, as a true devoted cook, when searching for a recipe, I came here first. My bread turned out amazing (I only made one loaf) and my boyfriend’s response after eating it was “you seriously have a gift.” Thank you for all you do and helping to make me a better cook! :)
Hi Teresa — It’s great to hear from you; I’m so glad you enjoyed the challah, too. It’s still my go-to recipe. :)
Hi Deb, I haven’t even baked the darn thing and I’m kvelling how lovely the braided dough looks as itdoes its inexorable final rise to challah stardom in my fridge. You’re a real treasure…thanks for the great recipe and especially your precise directions.
I specifically want to bake this bread to use as French toast and it’s the first bread that I can use my new collapsible proofer. I’m excited.
This turned out beautifully. It might have been the first loaf of bread I mananged to not burn but still cook completely. I did not preheat the baking stonee because I let the braided loaves rise on it. Not sure if this is bad for the stone or what
My mom said she liked it better than brioche and that it tasted like soft pretzels. I froze one loaf to use later for french toast. My boss requested that I make your chocolate babka next. Thanks in Kansas,
Hi I want to know what the temperatures are as I use celsius not fahrenheit. Thanks so much
The temperatures are in Farenheit. You can translate them here: http://smittenkitchen.com/cooking-conversions/
I’m a latecomer to this recipe, since it’s a few years old now. But I just had to write and say that it’s the best (and best looking) challah I’ve ever eaten. And considering this was my first try and the loaves came out perfectly, you deserve kudos for a well-written and incredibly delicious recipe. Thank you!
If you double the recipe , do you use all the water in the proofing stage? If not, at what point do you add in the additional water?
Also if you use instant yeast and you don’t proof it, what is the order of combining ingredients?
Hi, I just came across this recipe. FYI, I <3 Joan Nathan's recipes, I've tried several. This one looks so good, not to mention how clear the directions are, I bet I could do this.
However, my husband and I are living in a place with a TEENY TINY kitchen! No real space to knead dough. So I was wondering if there is a way to adjust the recipe to quantities that would work in a bread machine? I just want the machine to do the mixing and kneading, I want to braid it and bake it on my own.
My bread machine can make a 1 lb., a 1.5 lb., or a 2 lb. loaf. Also, could the recipe be adjusted to accommodate a single packet of yeast?
Does anyone have experience with this?
Hi Maxine — I bet my kitchen is tinier. ;)
I haven’t tried it in a bread machine but it looks like commenters #136 and 139 have and made suggestions.
Is it possible to follow the braiding instructions for the fig challah and use this recipe?
Ellie — Yup!
Deb, is this a particularly moist/sticky dough? I erred on the side of more flour (weighed out that extra 63 grams on my scale, along with all the other ingredients) as my eggs were on the very large side of large. I was concerned with overdeveloping the gluten as I mixed it up in a hurry in the KitchenAid this morning, but it still seemed so sticky. Never really got the dough to pull away from the bowl. I’m sure it will be delicious with apples and honey tonight anyhow. Thanks!
Mariana — It’s on the sticky side. Don’t worry about it; it leads to moist, tender challah. Hope everyone loves it!
I cannot wait to try out your recipe for Challah! I went to a messianic Church in Idaho for the last 8 years and had my first taste of Challah when I lived out there and fell in love. I learned how to make it while there and made it ever Sabbath, but was never truly satisfied with my Challah recipe and the Pastors wife wouldn’t give me hers! I have tried many a recipe on the internets and come up empty handed time and again, the one thing I have found with the ones I like the best is they always have more eggs, and more oil (which yours has) and use honey… which leads me to this question… why sugar, and why so little sugar? I know all recipes sort of can be altered to taste a bit, but isn’t it more traditional to go with honey, and to be a bit sweeter (like 3 tbsp) for 2 loaves? Just wondering?
Hi, this recipe is fantastic. I made it for the first time this summer while leading a kids summer camp (in enormous quantities… I’m talking 20kg of flour!!) and even with limited cooking utensils and estimated measurements, they were pretty good.
I made a couple of round loaves yesterday for Rosh Hashanah and my family loved them. Thank you for such a delicious and easy to follow recipe!!
We also had your honey cake recipe, which is yummy too!
best recipe ever. had a challah recipe that i made every year and this one puts it to shame!!! very good instructions. thanks a million
Hi Jessica — I think you might have misread the recipe. It calls for 1 tablespoon (13 grams) plus 1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar — the tablespoon is just to activate the yeast, the 1/2 cup works out to 1/4 cup per loaf. Hope you enjoy it!
Hi Deb, I finally took the plunge and baked this as my first go at non-flat bread.
It came out pretty great, but I have a question about the dough consistency.
I’ve seen videos where people make Challah and the dough seems to be pretty soft and workable. The proportions you have (unless I’ve messed up somewhere) give a pretty tough dough that’s a little difficult to work with. Did I mess up somewhere?
Hi there, for best results after making the dough and let it rest at first 1hr,then knee and let rest for 1 hr… or more. however when you make the challah shape, let it rest 4hr or more before putting it in the oven to bake. This will give you soft and perforated challa. you may want to coat it with light oil layer not to get dry. sure it should be covered when it is resting.
Hi Joshua — If someone rested this challah for 4 hours, it would collapse. There’s too much yeast in it for that kind of rising/resting time. A recipe with less yeast might work with that long length, but I want to make sure nobody takes your advice here and ends up with a flattened challah.
Hi there, for best results after making the dough and let it rest at first 1hr,then knea and let rest for 1 hr… or more. however when you make the challah shape, let it rest 4hr or more before putting it in the oven to bake. This will give you soft and perforated challa. you may want to coat it with light oil layer not to get dry. sure it should be covered when it is resting.
Hi! This is a great recipe overall. The only comment I have is on the level of sweetness. For some reason, I don’t find it to be as sweet as I would have liked (without adding the raisins). The next time I make the non-raisin version, I was thinking of adding some honey and see how it tastes after that. Thank you though for sharing this. I definitely love reading your blog!
I made this the other day and left it in the fridge over night. Mostly because I realized my last 2 eggs were cracked but it turned out amazing. It only had one coat of egg wash but the crust is crispy and flaky and the inside is moist and extra delicious. I would recommend it.
Hi Deb. I don’t make bread very often, so I have what may be a dumb question: What temperature should the water be for the yeast? I did it at about 100 because that’s what’s required for the only other bread recipe I ever make. It’s still rising, so I don’t know if it worked or not, but I thought I’d ask while I’m thinking about it in case it doesn’t work.
Thanks in advance. I’m very excited about this, so I hope I did it right.
Don’t you use water for the challa?
Yes, 1 3/4 cups water is called for in the first step.
As a shiksa about to celebrate Hanukkah for the first time with my Jewish boyfriend – I say thank you! I am waiting for my first attempt at this to finish the first rise and am hoping it turns out well enough that I can make it again and take it to “Thanksgivingukkah” with his family in a few weeks. Fingers crossed! :)
I’m determined to master Challah this winter, and I tried your recipe because I have always had great success with your others. However, this time did not go well. I used the 8 cups of flour, but the dough was really flakey and I couldn’t managed to get all of the flour mixed in. I used Gold all purpose flour, which I’ve used for other breads. Any suggestions? Did I just need to mix/kneed it longer? I’m sad :(
Jessica — How do you measure your cups of flour? My recipes usually assume flour cups on the lighter side (i.e. 125 grams or 4.4 ounces — the amount you’d get from fluffing-and-scooping). If your pack your flour cups tightly, you’d end up with too much flour.
Thanks Deb, I’ll give it a try, I perhaps did over pack my cups!
A week ago I had never made bread before, even in a bread machine. I’ve been on quite a kick, and challah is something I wanted to tackle. I followed the recipe completely except instead of sprinkling with seeds I sprinkled with coarse salt. I had no seeds and I love salt :) I have little no experience braiding anything and with these instructions I was able to make what looked and tasted like some damn fine challah! Thank you very much for the detailed instructions and recipe. I look forward to using left overs for french bread and making this again soon! Lechaim!
I meant to say “little to no experience braiding” and “french toast” instead of “french bread” :) I’d also like to add that I have much more respect for challah and it’s makers than I ever had. When I loved with my folks my mother used to make it every week for shabbat and I had no idea what all went into it until now.
I took a chance a made this bread as my first challah and have never been so happy with a bread. You have an amzing blog
Nice recipe I have a young friend I see once a year and he was begging for challah, I did substitute butter for the oil but otherwise followed the recipe. The recipe makes ALOT of dough. Delicious!! My little buddy is going to be super excited. Thanks.
I tried making this bread this morning and the dough was a horror show. (It was my own fault, though, not yours!)
Can I suggest you add the 1 and 3/4 water to the list of ingredients at the top? For whatever reason, adding it in the written directions really threw my off. I read through the entire recipe and directions three times and still read it as 3/4 water, not 1 and 3/4 :(
The pictures look so pretty, I’m definitely going to buy another pound of flour and try again soon! Happy Thanksgiving!
Annerbee — Okay, for you. :)
For those of you nervous about trying the recipe, don’t be. As far as breads go, it’s fairly easy; I made my first loaves as an 11-year-old little goy (or shikse — but in a nice way!). I made it for my best friend & his family because I loved them all and I wanted to do something nice for them for Passover. I had to borrow my friend’s mother’s cookbook, but still! I only did a 3-strand braid into a straight loaf to make it easier for myself. I was told they were very good, so if I could manage, so can you! :-)
Deb, thanks for the great recipe, I am always looking for an authentic one. I will be using yours today because I thought it would be nice to have a loaf for Thanksgiving since it it also Hanukkah. We are a bunch of transplanted New Yorkers who miss good food right around the corner!
I just finished baking two delicious smelling challah loaves using this recipe. I baked them for Thanksgiving in honor of my Eastern European Jewish relatives. My house smells amazing and I can’t wait to dig in later. My family is very excited!!
Just made this the other day and it came out PERFECT! I wrote about it on my blog and can’t wait to make it again. Thanks for the recipe!!
Took this to a Shabat dinner, my gentile first, and it was a huge hit! One guest, who grew up in Chicago, said it was the best challah she’d ever had. I will use this again and again!
I love this recipe!!!
I entertain alot during the Jewish holidays.
I would love to double the recipe & freeze some loaves.
Do i do everything exactly the same – including using 3 1/2
cups of water to proof the yeast?
Yes, double everything. Enjoy!
I made challah for the first time this Thanksgiving using this recipe. And what a success it was! While no one ate it with their meal, everyone wanted a loaf to take home. I did end up using 2 packets of yeast out of sheer laziness and I’m not sure how much flour I used. Either 7,8 or 9 cups surely. I always lose track and thought I had a system this time. Turns out I still don’t ;) Either way this bread was amazing. I was a little intimidated by it but it turned out to be pretty easy. We’ll be using this for our Friday night dinners from on.
I am making the challah for the first time ever. My dough is not rising and I followed the recipe exactly. Will it still turn out okay? I have made bread before and have never had issues with the dough not rising so I am not sure what is going on with this recipe. I am bummed out. Any advice would be appreciated.
I made this ercently, and it came out very well, although very yeasty. I used Fleishmann’s yeast packets, and it took me two full packets to get to 1.5 tablespoons, rather than the 1.5 packet equivalent in the ingredient list. I don’t have a kitchen scale, and I never know how much a “half packet” actually is. I wasn’t sure which way to go, and I was worried about the rise so I erred on the side of caution and went for the 1.5 Tbs rather than the 1.5 packet. Is it possible the 1.5 Tablespoon measurement could be off?
You are correct that 1.5 tablespoons is more than 1.5 packets (I will fix this now; 1 packet = 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 teaspoons) however, I still only use 1 1/2 packets so if you’re finding it too yeasty, that’s the reason. 1.5 packets should equal 1 tablespoon + about 3/4 teaspoon or 3 3/4 teaspoons.
“I loved them all and I wanted to do something nice for them for Passover.”
Um … it is a leavened bread … if they were in the least bit observant – or even if not – this was not Passover food.
I have made this recipe twice – I am not a baker, but I make a Thanksgivukkah turkey (copied it from a photo from a bakery) and they were beautiful. I made them for our holidays too, and DAMN it makes a fabulous French toast!
However, both times I made this, I found the instructions unduly confusing – BOTH times, I made the yeast mix wrong. So I have rewritten the directions a bit:
3 3/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (about 1 1/2 packages, 3/8 ounces or 11 grams)
– 1 tablespoon (13 grams) for reactivating the yeast
– plus 1/2 cup (100 grams) for adding to the dough
1 3/4 cups lukewarm water
1/2 cup (118 ml) olive or vegetable oil, plus more for greasing the bowl
5 large eggs
1 tablespoon (14 grams) table salt
8 to 8 1/2 cups (1000 to 1063 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup raisins (about 70 grams) per challah, if using, plumped in hot water and drained
Poppy or sesame seeds for sprinkling.
1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 tablespoon (13 grams) sugar in 1/3/4 cups lukewarm water; set aside for 5 minutes until a bit foamy.
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, but be careful if using a standard size KitchenAid–it’s a bit much for it, though it can be done.)
[I’m not sure HOW this should be written – it is very confusing, but I just winged it and it came out fine. I beat all four eggs (jumbo – even more eggy) first, then poured them in slowly into the mixer. I added the sugar and salt first, with the oil. I used the beater bar on my 6 qt KitchenAid, and it was straining the motor at the end – perhaps at some point I should have switched to the hook.]
This challah recipe looks incredible but I would like to halve it. How much yeast would you suggest? You don’t indicate whether one should let the yeast, sugar and water mixture should stand to bloom before adding the other ingredients…? Do you skip this?
Also, you state to brush the challah before the last rise – is it okay for the egg to be out for that long? In the last rise, after the challah has been braided, do you again cover it with plastic wrap? And lastly, will the last egg brush prevent the exposure of white dough after baking or should you brush with egg wash halfway through baking instead?
SORRY! I missed that you said to put the yeast mixture aside for 5 minutes!
carey — Halve everything, including the yeast. Half of one packet of yeast would be slightly more than 1 3/4 teaspoons of yeast.
my bread turned out sticky when i took it from the freezer and defrosted it (i also put it in the oven when it was still warm from another meal (maybe 130 at the most) is that bad?
No, I don’t think it should be an issue. It’s probably just condensation from being defrosted.
I just wanted to say thank you for the recipe. I’ve been making this for years now and I never said thank you. It turns out beautiful every time. I’m making it at the moment then forming it into some bread rolls to go with our dinner tonight. My Jewish in-laws are over the moon. To quote my lovely mother-in-law ‘Best challah I’ve ever tasted, spectacular’
So thank you Deb, here’s to lots more years of making challah! x
Great recipe! One problem I tend to find is when baking the braid tends to split and not to hold together nicely. Any suggestions as to why?
Gemma — Does it unbraid itself or do tears form in the strands themselves? Do you have a photo you can link to?
Thanks for all your great recipes! I made this challah during yet another Chicago snowstorm, and I only had white whole wheat flour in the house. Worried about it being dry or hard, I stopped adding flour when it looked done (about 7.5 cups) and I carefully hovered over the oven so it wouldn’t overcook. It was delicious and reminded me of Irish brown bread. Even my challah fanatics liked it! Then I used it in a kale/cheddar strata later that week (your recipe, just kale) and it was so perfect. Thanks for giving me the confidence to wing it.
Tears form in the strands! Here is a photo (not terribly clear)
Gemma — Thanks! So… I couldn’t see that clearly but do you mean like the stretchy strands where the dark crust separates or just cracking as baking within the darker crust, like the bread just expanded a lot?
The stretchy strands where the dark crusts separates. It looks as if the dough is being stretched i.e. the strands are separating when I bake them. You can see best in the front challah on the right hand side.
Gemma — That happens all of the time to me. Was the result unpleasant? My hunch is that the more we stretch the strands (rather than just braiding without tugging on the strands) the more that the stretchiness reappears after baking. But I’m not certain. I’ve always taken it as a given that sometimes you’ll see the “inner gears.”
No impact on result, was utterly delicious! Will try not to stretch it out so much next time. Thanks!
Hi Deb- I want to try the whole recipe but my stand mixer would never allow for 8 and 1/2 cups of flour… when you pour the dough out to knead, can you help with how long that process should take, when to add more flour and what to look for? I think my stand mixer would allow for 4 cups, which means I’d have to add the rest while kneading and am not sure how to incorporate that- thanks so much!
carey — How small is your mixer bowl? Rather than trying to knead extra flour into a wet, sticky dough on the counter, it makes more sense to use a large pot or bowl to mix everything with a spoon as best as you can, and then turn it out onto a counter to knead it until smooth and elastic. Hope that helps.
Hi Deb- it is standard size, holds 4.5 quarts. If I were to simply use a large bowl, I suppose I am not sure how to tell when I should stop adding flour-if you add some add a time, how much and when do you turn it out onto the counter? Do you use the full 8 and 1/2 cups? Thanks so much!
Hi Carey — I usually just use 8 cups, but machines make it easier to work with sticky doughs. You can go up to 8 1/2 cups if needed; it won’t harm it. However, when kneading by hand, before adding more flour, I like to rest the dough for a few minutes, maybe 10, under plastic, and come back to it. It helps the dough relax and you might find when you return that it doesn’t seem so sticky anymore. I think it’s always best to err on the stickier side if you can manage it; the stickier doughs yield softer, more moist loaves.
Thanks Deb. Not quite sure I understand what you wrote- I can use 8 cups in the mixer? And how much flour goes into the dough before I would stop and let the dough rest a bit and knead again? I think I may try to do it all by hand!
I’m sorry, I might not be understanding your question. You said that your mixer will not hold the whole dough. I suggested doing it by hand (mix what you can in a bowl with a spoon, dump it onto the counter and knead until smooth/elastic, then let rise back in an oiled bowl; the resting part is for hand-kneading only, to ensure you don’t add too much flour because it will feel like you need more when you knead it by hand than when a machine does it for you, but you won’t). But your last comment suggests that you can fit 8 cups flour in your mixer, so I’m not sure why you wouldn’t use it or need to use the counter. Please clarify so that I can help you.
Sorry for the confusion! No, I will be doing it tomorrow all by hand. What I wanted to know was when should I rest the dough (not for rising, for kneading)? IN other words, about much flour should I have expected to add before stepping away from the dough to rest, and then return to knead? Thanks so much for your patience and help!
carey — Add the 8 cups of flour and knead it in. If it feels really sticky, try, before you add the last 1/2 cup, to just rest the dough for 10 minutes before resuming kneading and deciding if it needs the last 1/2 cup. That rest time can make all the difference. There’s no harm whatsoever in adding the last 1/2 cup (that’s why the recipe gives a range) but the most tender doughs come from using flour amounts on the lower side. Good luck.
Can I freeze this before the first rise (I have no idea what that would do to the dough), because I wanted to demonstrate proper braiding instructions for a speech at school? That might mean I’d have to show how to mix it at the beginning and bring a pre-made all ready risen loaf…
ethan — It should be just fine, but FWIW, I find that by the time a dough is defrosted and ready to use, you may as well have made a fresh one in less time.
This recipe is, hands down, the absolute best. It was the first time I made Challah and I am proud to say that it has received rave reviews from family members. They can’t say enough about how moist and flavorful it is. It also makes the best French toast ever. Delish!
I have two questions about the recipe. If I need to double the amount of flour, do I double everything (eggs, yeast, etc.)? Or does the yeast stay the same and everything else doubles? Also, if I want to let the dough rise in the refrigerator overnight, do I start the recipe the same and just place it in the refrigerator for 12 hours? Or do I use less yeast? Thank you in advance!
LC — Everything gets doubled. To rise it in the fridge overnight, you can just put it there. The fridge will slow down the process. If you’re nervous, use 3/4 the suggested yeast.
Deb, This recipe is phenomenal — I’ve been using it to make tons challah the past year or so and everyone loves it. I usually push the oil a bit and double both rising times for maximum moisture and fluffiness.
One quick suggestion: for readers like me that come back to this recipe many times, I’ve stopped reading the instructions and just cook from the ingredients list. Yesterday I missed the 1/2 cup sugar because it was hidden behind the yeast proofing sugar (I recovered it eventually, but it was a mess!). Having the quantities combined in the ingredients list (then specified later), or having a whole new line item for the 1/2 cup, would help me cook from the ingredients list. Just a thought!
Thanks for this and the magic in the book, Garen from SF
Garen — Yikes! Okay, let me try to make it better now, thanks.
You are humorous which is most appreciated. Beautiful thoughts and photos as well. Looking forward to reading more of your Blog. Found you by doing a Google search for cahalla.
Calling it quits before I’m farshikkert.
Hi Deb. I’m a fan but have never written before. I thought you might like to know that my almost-19-year son made this bread yesterday. He has never made anything with yeast before. My mom was a big bread-makes and of course, none of her daughters make bread – Mom was too good at it. So when my son decided to make bread, he looked up recipes and asked me whether I knew anything about Smitten Kitchen, I told him I did happen to subscribe to the blog and if he was getting the recipe here, it would be good. He didn’t want to tell me what he was going to make but he did tell me he needed yeast. I gently tried to discourage him but then I decided he needed to learn that you can’t just launch yourself into bread-making without some help. So when I got home from work, he had two loaves of your bread, beautifully braided and glistening with egg wash. The bread was delicious! He was so pleased with himself and of course I was very proud of him. He certainly picked the right bread recipe to start with! Thanks so much!
I didn’t have the patience necessary to read through the braiding instructions and instead found a youtube video that demonstrates the 6-fold braid at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=22p3wIHLupc.
Otherwise, the ingredients were spot on and I found it easy enough to halve the recipe – four eggs go into the dough itself, so all you have to do is add two to the dough itself and blend a third to brush the braided loaf with. You still end up with a pretty large loaf of challah. It was delicious and after a day it was completely gone – thanks for the great recipe and I look forward to trying variations thereof!
Deb, I can’t thank you enough for this recipe. I’ve been using it for several years and it just keeps getting better and better. I don’t even need to measure out my flour anymore. The best part is when I give my little Jakey a piece of dough and he makes his own. :)
Thank you so much for your blog, it is a breath of fresh air to my soul. I went to a Mennonite farm on a warm sunny afternoon, they had 13 children and hundreds of chickens running around a large coop. I bought 2 dozen eggs and rushed home excited to make this bread. I made 6 small loaves and delivered them in pretty cloth napkins to my favorite neighbors. I did a simple 3 string braid and used quick rise yeast. fantastic. It was a delight to see the recipients faces unwrap their gift. You inspire me to try new things and for this I am grateful.
I make challah all the time, my kids and their friends don’t know what it is but its fresh bread and they love it, so do the neighbours, it goes out the door as fast as it comes out of the oven LOL! If they only knew…. HAHAH!
Even though challah seems like a totally intimidating (and huge!) recipe for a first-time bread maker, I’d actually really recommend this recipe. It’s pretty easy to follow, and the dough is VERY easy to work with!
Plus, the reward when you’re done is waaaaay better than a loaf of bleached white sandwich bread.
I’ve been making challah in many variations since I was 12 (so not scared of yeast doughs) and my current favorite recipe (origin unknown beyond my friend’s rabbi’s wife’s recipe ;)) has only 3 eggs to 6.5 lb of flour. Just wondering what impact the exponentially larger quantity of egg has on the taste and texture?
Made this last night for Rosh Hashanah and Fall Equinox. They turned out HUGE! This was my first challah attempt ever and the tiny bite I sneaked last night was delicious! Looking forward to a nice hunk tonight (and some challah french toast this weekend!). Thanks, Deb, for always being a recipe source I can count on.
Deb – can you add detailed freezing instructions? I didn’t know whether to freeze on parchment (greased/not) or a baking sheet, whether to wrap it, etc.
We are about to make this, but seem to only have instant yeast. Would that work as well as active dry? Sorry if you’ve covered this already, but quickly skimmed the comments and didn’t see anything about it. Oh, and Shana Tovah!
Hi Jen — See comments #332 (my response), 340, 408 (me again) and 426 for suggestions about how to use instant yeast here. Good luck!
Not only do you inspire me in the kitchen, you totally crack me up.
I just made Challah with your recipe today. I make it every holiday season (which seems to extend to April).
The texture and flavor are beyond compare. It’s a guilty pleasure I have no remorse in indulging! Thank you for sharing your recipe!
I just “found you” and I am so excited! I read every comment here and so excited to make this challah!! My question refers to having one rise of the three in the fridge. How does that work? I’ve never let bread rise in the fridge before. How do you know that it is done rising? Would the best place to do this is in the 2nd rise that is normally 30 minutes? If so, how long would it be then in the fridge. Thanks so much for bringing us this incredible site!!
Debra — You can let any bread dough rise in part or whole in the fridge, it just takes longer. The fridge slows the process down, which can buy you time if needed. Bread obsessives note that better flavor is developed through slower rising. You’ll need to give it more time, of course, but that’s the point.
Deb, I tried the challah this weekend, and it was wonderful. Question, can it be doubled?
Thanks in advance,
Seth — Absolutely. But if you’re using a stand mixer, you might be best off with a 6-quart bowl (like the Pro models have). It can totally be kneaded by hand, however.
I’ve made this bread a lot of times, including in high altitude places like Caracas, Venezuela and in Moscow. It’s turning out wonderful each time. For high altitude places I added more water (less than 1/4 cup) (2 cups of water) and extra butter…no oil. I used this recipe also in pizza, but didn’t like it. Our kids favorite were the cinnamon rolls, and I always use butter instead of oil. Thanks so much for this recipe…it’s the best there is!! Merry Christmas!
Hello! I made your bread for the first time at Christmas about two years ago and my husband fell in love with it. I’ve made it a few more times since then- and I have to say that the flavor after spending a night in the fridge is just so much more rich. I was too eager to let it sit in the fridge this time, and the flavor just isn’t there. But thanks for your recipe! I got to make challah bread in Kinshasa, DRC!
I am so pleased with my first time try of this recipe! I made it specifically because I love making French Toast with apples and cinnamon and I was determined to start with my own bread. Glad I did! It is much easier than it looks and I’ll definitely add it to my “gotta make again” section of my recipe binder!
Thank you so much!
Hi! I’ve never attempted challah before but this has been on my to-do list and I was just invited to my boyfriend’s parents for Shabbat dinner (big stakes!). Do you think I should bake it Thursday night or let it proof overnight (reduce yeast) and bake it Friday morning? Have you tried leaving it in the fridge overnight?
This is the first time I’ve ever commented on this (or any) food blog but I just had to because I made this challah recipe today and it was just so easy and wonderful, even for a yeast bread novice like myself. In fact I think this is the easiest bread dough I have ever worked with! I halved the recipe and used a canola-olive oil mix because that’s all I had (not sure why I have this on hand at all). So delicious, and beautiful too.
Thank you!! You saved my Easter. I grew up with Challah, and decided to make my own for the first time this year. (The first time I’d ever really made homemade bread of any kind.) It was incredible!! I ended up finding and buying a loaf from my local store as backup, only to find that mine was actually more flavorful and better-looking! Thank you for the step-by-step directions- it made things far less intimidating!
You can see my loaves @http://www.people-food.net/2015/04/baking-challah-i-made-bread.html
Butter or bust! I searched the web for a challah recipe, saw that most of them asked for oil, but I wanted butter. Thought yours would be a butter recipe. Alas… maybe another time.
lmegahan — Most challah recipes do not use butter because it’s traditionally served with meat, which would make the dairy addition not Kosher. Alas, you can definitely swap the oil with melted butter here; it’s quite delicious.
I’ve been using the food processor to make challah for many years [usually with some hand kneading before putting it in the bowl to rise].
My basic formula is: 6 c. bread flour to 2 cups of liquid. [NOTE: since I no longer buy bread flour I add 2T wheat gluten = 1 t. per cup of flour]
[I came up with a 6 cup recipe because of the size of my food processor bowl – it can handle closer to 7 cups but prob not 8 cups. The heat generated by the food processor helps develop the yeast.]
2 (scant) tablespoons dry yeast (or 2 packets)
1/4 c. To 1/2 c. Warm water (95 – 115 degrees)
1 teaspoon sugar [more recently I’ve been dissolving local honey in the water before adding yeast]
when it proofs I add:
2 Eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 c. Oil
add enough room temp water to bring it to 2 cups. [water amt.varies by number of eggs and amount of oil]
While yeast is proofing I add dry ingredients to the food processor and pulse to mix
6 c. Flour
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 c. Sugar (you can use more or less) [sometimes i use about1/3 c. Sugar and ¼ c. Honey.
1 egg yolk mixed with 2 teaspoons water for glaze
With the machine running, I VERY slowly pour in the liquid. Once it has all come together and kind of forms a cohesive ball around the blade, continue processing for another 2 to 3 minutes. Turn out onto a lightly floured board. put in oiled dish, turn over, cover, proof, punch down, proof, braid, brush, rise, bake.
I use a 350 degree over and tend to undercook since it does continue to bake once out of the over but it still must have the golden color and pass the thump test. I thump the bottom of the loaf and if it’s done it will sound hollow. [The first time I made it in the 70’s it looked beautiful but was totally raw in the middle!]
It is such a flexible recipe. The humidity impacts the amount of flour or water needed. I use more honey and double the oil for the Jewish High Holy Days but keep my basic proportions of 6 cups flour to 2 cups of liquid. After shaping, dough can be flash frozen, then wrapped well. Take it out of the freezer in the morning for dinner that night.
I agree re using baking stones. It browns top & bottom the best. For round I like linked loops or the tic tac toe pattern since I have not mastered joining the 2 ends of the braidss – any tips?
BTW – My daughter sent me to smitten kitchen! The [thinner] lemon bars are to die for and have been a huge hit with everyone that’s been lucky enough to try it. Thanks Deb!
Fantastic recipe. The challot turned out beautifully (waiting to try them tomorrow night at Shabbat dinner), and I also tried using the pretzel coating on one of them from your pretzel Parker roll recipe. I doubled the coating recipe, brushed it on and then let the challah soak in the rest in the bottom of the cookie sheet (I drained it before baking). It turned out darker than the plain challah and smells like pretzel – excited to taste it too.
Amazing bread! First, I can’t braid challah to save my life. The loaf just looked smushy but that did not matter at all because this loaf was for your awesome baked French toast. Normally I’d buy a cheap loaf of challah but I’ve just moved to a small town in Belgium and have yet to find challah. And for my first friends’ brunch I had to show off my favorite American brunch food. This bread is incredible! Now just to figure out the braiding…
I love your site and am very excited (and nervous) to try making challah for the first time. Although you got me through my first and all subsequent pie crusts, and they’ve been nothing but successful, so I have a lot of faith in you! Actually, this will be my first time making any bread other than quick breads, so the yeast makes me especially nervous. I’ve actually read through all of your comments, and I know you’ve addressed this, so I apologize for the repetition, but I’m hoping for confirmation specific to my situation.
I want to make this for a shabbat dinner this Friday evening, but I work all day and won’t be home from 8am to 5pm. My plan is to make the dough Thursday night, all the way up through the braiding, and then put it in the fridge for the third rise overnight and bake it before I leave for work in the morning. It would be in the fridge for about 7 hours in this case, and I would take it out to get it to room temp while I go for a run, then bake it while I’m getting ready for work. My question is, will 7 hours in the fridge be too long for the third rise? And will leaving it out for about an hour to get to room temp be okay or is that also too much time? I can try freezing it overnight for the third rise (if I can make room in my very crowded freezer), but then I would need to defrost it for about 8 hours while I’m at work–would this be better done in the fridge or out on the counter? Also, if you do recommend freezing it, should I just put the loaves in the freezer on a baking sheet and cover them with plastic wrap? Or would another method be better?
So sorry for what turned out to be a much longer post than I anticipated! I’m just very nervous, as I said. Challah is by far my favorite bread, and this will also be my first time making shabbat dinner for my Jewish boyfriend (I’m a goy!).
Sheigla — 7 hours is a bit long, but it might be okay. It’s definitely worth trying. One hour to get it to room temperature or close enough should be fine. I generally freeze challah in freezer bags, pressing as much air out as possible. Good luck!
Thanks for your encouragement, but so far not so good. I just finished making the dough–took me 4 hours to get it all done–and it turned out so sticky it was nearly impossible to work with, even though I added all the flour and a little extra. I still barely managed to braid it with my hands gloved in dough, though I failed miserably at the 6 braid and started over with a 3 braid for each. I slipped them on the baking sheet and brushed on the egg wash and now the braids have completely lost their shape. They just look like lumps of dough. I don’t understand what I did wrong.
Could it be because I mixed and kneaded everything in my KitchenAid? I divided the recipe into two half-batches so that the mixer could handle it, and these are the measurements I used for each:
1 6/8 tsp yeast (active dry, not instant)
1 cup minus 2 tbsps lukewarm water
1/2 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup oil
1/2 tbsp salt
4 1/4 cups flour, plus about 2 more tbsps per batch (I was afraid to add much more)
It was so sticky it didn’t even form a ball, just a blob at the bottom of the bowl, kind of like cake batter. I had to work with quite a bit of extra flour to get anything even resembling a braid, and as I said my hands were completely covered in a thick layer of dough. Is this all normal? Am I going to bake this tomorrow to find that it’s magically regained its braided shape in the oven? I know that’s not likely. I guess I should have added even more flour? How do you know when it’s just sticky enough but not too sticky and not too dry?
I’m so sad this didn’t work out as well as I’d hoped. Maybe it will still taste okay at least. I would love to be able to make a challah even half as beautiful as yours some day. Any thoughts you might have on where I went wrong will be much appreciated!
I did also use 2 eggs and another 1/4 cup of sugar for each batch. Somehow in my delirium last night I skipped those on the ingredient list. I baked them this morning and they are definitely not very pretty, but they still look like they’ll taste pretty good. We’ll see tonight!
Just used this recipe to pop my challah baking cherry. It made two gorgeous loaves and was easy to follow except for the braiding instructions which were easily figured out with a quick Google search. The bread was delicious but didn’t seem to have much of that famous eggy flavour and wasn’t all that sweet even after I added a bit of honey to the recipe. Next time I’ll try reducing the water by ¾ of a cup and adding an extra two eggs to the recipe and a quarter cup of honey and maybe that will yield a more traditional result. Great recipe otherwise and definitely one to repeat!
In response to Sheila’s issue, it sounds like she didn’t take into account the increased moisture content of the extra eggs and adjust the water measurement accordingly, resulting in a sticky unmanageable dough. If her kitchen mixer is anything like mine, she would also have benefited from taking the 15-20 minutes to knead the dough by hand to build up the gluten strands and elasticity. Kitchen aid mixers are great, but there just can’t compete with elbow grease when it comes to kneading dough.
Shana tova, Deb! I’ve been using your recipe pretty much ever since you posted it. I don’t wind up baking challah every Friday night (or mostly at all), but it’s become a mandatory thing at our regular Erev Rosh Hashana dinner. I just put the dough in the fridge to rise overnight and wanted to thank you again for this recipe and wish you and the family a sweet year.
Shana Tova and Chag Sameach! I hope your slightly less little family is having a great New Year! Shofar, so good, right? I remember seeing you and your husband in Portland at Powell’s bookstore, BEFORE baby number 2! You told us not to ask about baby number 2 back then, haha!
Anyway I think you might want to update the braiding technique on this website when going for a round challah. You have the round challah technique in your book, the four-braid technique. I made the double batch and halfway through I realized your book had that 4-braid technique and it was a LOT easier and more attractive for round Challah. The 6 braid technique was harder to do and it doesn’t have the same roundness as the 4 braid.
Have a great new year, and also an awesome Sukkot!
Matthew — Ha! Now I tell people not to ask me about Book 2. :) Great tip; will add a note about it. And happy new year to you too.
I’ve never made a Challah, but I have made lots of your other recipes and have LOVED all of them so I’m going with your challah recipe for my Yom Kippur breakfast. I have two silly questions:
1. How much water do I dissolve the yeast in? Yeast always overwhelms me for some reason and I know it shouldn’t.
2. Can I replace the raisins with chocolate chips? Semi-Sweet? Maybe just add them in where you say to add the raisins?
I’ve been drooling over your blog for a while, and like the fact that most of recipes have conversions for metric too which makes it easier for me as I’m in the UK, but for me something went wrong with this, the dough was just too wet to be managable, and now it’s made me vary of trying any other yummy looking recipes.
I bake a lot but normally do my own conversion from cup measures for dry ingredients as I find flour is such a difficult one to get right.
Unrelated, except very related: I met Joan Nathan on Thursday night and said “I LEARNED HOW TO MAKE AWESOME CHALLAH BECAUSE OF YOU.” She was very polite about it (but I think she hears this a lot!).
Hi. I’m a newbie to your lovely blog having stumbled across it while searching for a recipe for challah. I’ve made it twice now and it is the challah of my childhood: soft and fragrant, definitely the king of breads and a world away from the mass produced pappy things churned out by most bakeries. I make mine into a round plaited challah which proves beautifully, but, when I bake it the plaits disappear and merge into each other. I know this isn’t the end of the world and the most important thing is the taste, but it would be so lovely to produce a challah with braids standing loud and proud. I would appreciate any advice. Thank you.
Ruthy — You might try this woven method for your round challah instead (if you weren’t already).
Hi Deb. Thanks so much for finding time to reply. You’re right, that was the method I used and it looked just like the picture when I put it in the oven. But when it came out it was one large smooth round ball! Do you have any idea why the braids would lose their definition like that?
Deb, I’ve made this bread twice and each time the dough has been too sticky to braid. No amount of flour during the braiding stage made a bit of difference. I followed your instructions precisely (other than halving the recipe and using a stand mixer). What is going on?!?
Ellie — Tell me more about what’s happening. Can you keep the counter floured enough that the ropes stay loose when you weave them? It’s good for it to be a little sticky; a firm dough would make dry bread. You only need it loose enough that you can throw the braid together.
Hey Deb, thanks for responding. I’ve been using a silpat on the counter so I haven’t had much problem sticking there. The problem is the dough sticking to itself more than anything else. It does seem like the dough does just ends up absorbing any flour I apply to the strands and melding back together while I am trying to braid it. I don’t think the strands look smooth like yours do in the photos either. The dough ends up baking and tasting just fine (after I give up and throw it in a loaf pan), but I’d really like to figure out what I might be doing wrong!
Hi Deb! First time making bread ever and was directed to challah by a more experienced baker (I’ve made a handful of your recipes before and they’ve always worked out, so I knew you were the woman to go to). I just had to leave a comment to let you know that this bread turned out so scrumptious. I’m thinking I probably over-proved the bread – I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me to follow the more descriptive aspects of the recipe (“doubled” rather than a strict timetable) I live in Hawaii. It’s hot here. *rolls eyes at self* but! I’ve learned! Thanks for the super duper easy instructions, my roommates were very impressed with my (your) braiding technique.
Hi there. I really wanted to try the challah for a bake sale I’m having at my church. I bake a lot of bread for myself and friends. It’s interesting to note how many felt the dough was sticky when to me, it was far too dry. I nearly doubled the amount of water. Maybe because it’s winter and the furnace is on? Eh. Who knows.
The flavor was not exactly what I wanted, so I’m going to tweek it a bit and use butter next time instead of oil, and refrigerate for a few hours. The bread however, came out so pretty, great texture. I took a picture and put on my facebook page. Your instructions were crystal clear on the braiding (which was the scary part). Thank you.
Could you substitute golden syrup for the sugar? I just made your chocolate bourbon pecan pie, twice, with two different brands of golden syrup and am in love. And I thought as some commenters mentioned honey in place of sugar for their challah, why not try golden syrup. I have just done your recipe twice, once as it is presented once with milk and butter substitutes. All incredible, amazing recipe, thanks.
Any thoughts on golden syrup for the challah?
Lydia — I definitely think so. I’m glad I’ve converted someone else!
Just wanted to say I’ve now made this recipe about 4 times and I’m SO in love with it. Last time did the raisins and added just a tiny dash of maple syrup to the egg wash and it was really nice.
Today, I’m doing “everything” challah, topped with sesame seeds, poppy seeds, dried onion and dried minced garlic.
My only tweak is that I think 30 minutes at 375 is way overdone. I’ve been lowering the temperature quite a bit.
Golden syrup report: I followed the recipe exactly with the substitution of the golden syrup for sugar 1:1. The taste was unchanged by the two home testers, spouse and yours truly. However, the challahs came out ‘pale’. Not sure why this would be, as the rest of the recipe including time and temp were unchanged. And I had thought the double egg wash was what was solely responsible for the color of the ‘crust’.
Adding a little saffron enhances the flavor of this semi-sweet bread.
I have several recipes for water and egg challah but wanted to try another recipe and I have to say this is by far the BEST egg challah I have made so far. I didn’t have time to knead properly the dough so, after I mixed the ingredients into a ball I let it rest in the fridge all day until Friday morning (I made the dough Thursday at 1pm). Since I doubled the recipe and it was rising a lot even in the fridge, I punched the air out several times during the resting time. It developed a beautiful flavor, perfect sweetness and the texture was even better of the challah I usually buy that it is actually very good. To make the long story short, I highly recommend this amazing recipe and it is going to be my go-to egg challah recipe now.
I’ve made this so many times, thank you for this recipe. I tried it once before with 50% white whole wheat and it was great (this is such a flexible recipe), but today I used 50% regular whole wheat, 25% bread flour, 25% all-purpose, and a spoonful of vital wheat gluten for good luck (who knows if that did anything) and the texture was RIGHT ON. I used a little more water than suggested, and a little less total flour (in grams).
Yummy, what a great recipe. been looking for decent bread making recipe. Thanks for sharing.
Do you have any suggestions about how to freeze a loaf? Should I put it in the freezer uncovered first and then cover it in aluminum foil and plastic once it is frozen? Please advise! Thanks
I made this bread for the first time about a year ago (you can find my earlier comment!) and have made this countless times since. I make one loaf (half the recipe) about every week or so, usually near the end of the week so leftover slices can be used for french toast on weekends, though the bread often doesn’t last til then. I’ve made it with raisins and without, vegetable oil and olive oil and even sesame oil, it is very forgiving. I now decrease the sugar to 20-25g/loaf, and often use anywhere from 25% to 60% whole wheat, though using some bread flour or vital wheat gluten to make up for the lost protein.
This week, instead of doing a braid, I made rolls. Used half the recipe to make 12 rolls in a 9×13 pan, 20 minutes at 375. Perfection!
I made this recipe twice at 8600 feet and wanted to note that this recipe works great at high altitude with no adjustments to the recipe. The only change I made was that I kneaded it for a good while after it was smooth to make sure that it would have a strong structure. I did this partly because I really enjoy kneading, and I’m not sure it’s strictly necessary.
I made this challah bread, following the recipe exactly, but it came out tasting very strongly of yeast and also the texture of the bread was denser than challah should be. What do you think went wrong? One possibility is that I live in a very hot and humid climate, so maybe letting the bread rise 3 times for a total of 2.5 hours was too long? Or maybe baking it for 30 minutes was not enough? I took it out of the oven after 30 minutes at 375F, since the top was dark brown by then.
Dense usually means overrisen and then collapsed (did this happen?) or not risen enough. The yeasty flavor suggests to me not enough. Was it baked through?
Up until last night I had never made a challah with the same fluffiness as the ones that can be purchased at Zaro’s. Plenty of disappointing door stops and bricks…But your recipe changed all that. The extra rise was the trick I think. Though I subbed-out the sugar for some wildflower honey at the beginning, I did everything else to the letter and your recipe and editorial comments made me feel like you were a friend standing beside me and talking me through the process. Thank you. My kitchen smelled heavenly. The loaf was light, with the longed-for fluff and full of flavor…and my neighbor and co-workers now think I’m a pro. Go figure. ; )
Making this bread as I write. The dough looks incredible and they are on their last rise before baking. I found the 6 strand braiding instructions a bit unclear and complicated. I found another that stipulates always starting with the far right strand, going over 2, under 1 and over 2 until the strand makes it all the way left. Then repeat always starting right and going over 2, under 1 and over 2. Made a much neater braid. Nonetheless, I always trust smittenkitchen recipes for my first tries and I’m looking forward to these loaves!
Wow. I completely want to try it next time. I still have my husband read the directions aloud while I braid and kick myself for not having come up with an easier-to-remember system yet.
No wait, addendum: I just remembered I have done this before and personally, didn’t love the braid as much because it looked more woven and less stacked — this one looks like a small braid on top of a big one somehow. Regardless, it was pretty and certainly easier; I should update this with a few alternatives. (I think I used instructions here, by the way.)
I feel like this would be much improved by the use of bread flour because it would have a better, smoother crumb. I will try it with that substitution. What do you think?
I have used bread flour before when I had it on hand but I haven’t compared/contrasted with regular flour to find a preference.
I have made this recipe dozens of times – love it. Won first place in my local county fair! One thing I have never mastered, though, is getting a nice even raisin distribution, when I use them. Even when I work them in gradually and methodically, I get a hit-and-miss result. Some parts of the bread might have a nice even distribution, while others are clumped together. Any advice?
I don’t know if you’ve received a response over the years, but I’d suggest adding them after stirring in the eggs and sugar, then add about 3 cups of the flour and stir until dough is smooth. Then add rest of flour until the dough is kneadable, knead and let rise with raisins in already. I know this is not Deb’s direction, but I use this method with my hot cross bun recipe and it works great.
Hi Deb, I’ve been making your challah recipe every week since August and love it! The one thing that really seems to be stumping me is getting them as evenly browned as your photos. I’ve found that the top of the challah browns much more quickly than the sides. So I’m left with a challah whose top I’m relatively happy with the “browniness” (this is the technical term), but the sides look much paler. I’ve tried a few things, including a third egg wash halfway through the baking time (this was to target the parts of the challah that weren’t exposed until after the over spring) and mixing a little cream into the egg wash, but I’ve never been able to get them as brown (the bottom starts to burn) and definitely not as evenly brown as yours. I’ve been googling it a bit, and my only idea left is that my baking sheet is too shiny and is reflecting the heat away from the sides of the challah. Do you have any wisdom you could impart on the subject?
I’m, at best, an armchair food scientist but it definitely can’t hurt to see if a darker tray makes for a darker bread. Mine is moderately dark and definitely not shiny. Do you have a baking stone? I actually don’t use one but other bread bakers swear by them to improve crusts; it will probably help keep it from getting too dark underneath before the top is done
As much as I love a nice braid, I want to make my challah in a loaf pan so it is easier to turn leftovers into French Toast. Should I follow the loaf-making procedure for your whole wheat bread, is there a more appropriate one for the consistency of challah, or should I not even bother because it will never work?
Thanks, love your site!
That procedure would work fine. I wonder if you could make a little braid on top anyway, just press it in a little…
Wow that was fast! 10000 points.
Do you mean plop a braid on dough that’s already in a pan or make a braided challah and let it rise in the loaf pan so it fills it out?
I have made this recipe before (it’s great -thanks!), but my next adventure will be to make it with my son’s preschool class. Do you think it is possible to freeze the dough overnight (after all the risings) so all I have to do the next morning is divide it into little balls that the class can shape and put raisins in?
I’ve frozen dough for other bread but am unsure about challah?