Whether or not you’re familiar with challah’s significance in Jewish culture and history, its wonderful flavor and texture make it a fabulous bread for any occasion. Challah is typically characterized by its darkly-colored, braided, outer crust, and some challahs have seeds (poppy or sesame) on top. If you’re going to go to the effort of making bread, challah is definitely one you should try. It’s generally a little sweeter than other breads which makes it a phenomenal choice for French toast but it still makes a delicious, savory sandwich. What we’re trying to say is that it’s impossible to go wrong with this bread!
Yields 1 large loaf
- 1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 1/4 cup warm water, divided
- 4-4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 3 eggs, divided
- 2 teaspoons salt
- sesame seeds, garnish (optional)
- Dissolve 1 teaspoon sugar in 1/2 cup warm water. Pour yeast into water and let stand for 5-10 minutes, or until frothy. Stir to dissolve. (If mixture doesn’t bubble, discard and start over.)
- In a large bowl or mixer, sift together 2 cups flour, sugar and salt. Create a well in the center of dry ingredients and add 2 eggs, oil and water.
- Mix well and slowly add in remaining flour, until dough begins to come together but is still sticky.
- Pour yeast mixture into dough and mix until it is completely incorporated.
- Using a dough hook attachment (or by hand), knead dough for 6-8 minutes on low speed (if needed, adding flour teaspoon by teaspoon), until dough is smooth and elastic.
- Turn dough out into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a clean towel and place in a warm, draft-free place for 1-2 hours, or until doubled in size.
- Uncover, punch dough down, recover and let rise for another 45 minutes, until doubled again in size.
- Divide dough into 3 equal parts and shape each part into a long rope.
- Transfer dough to a lightly greased baking tray and connect the 3 pieces at one end.
- Loosely braid the strands by taking the outer right piece and crossing it over the middle piece, then crossing the outer left piece over the middle piece (what was originally the outer right).
- Connect the ends together (optional: fold them under the loaf), then cover with a clean, damp towel and let rise until doubled in size. About 1 hour. When ready, preheat oven to 400º F.
- In a small bowl, beat remaining egg with a splash of water and brush it over the loaf. Sprinkle sesame seeds over the top if desired.
- Place in oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until outside is deeply browned and inside temperature is 190º F.
- Remove challah from oven and let cool completely before serving.
Recipe adapted from Chabad