Recipe: Challah

Cooking / Eating In

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Challah at your homegirl!  Here on the BAN blog, baking homemade bread is one of my favorite things to do, and challah is one of my favorite breads to make.  Soft, sweet, eggy, and a multitude of loaf shapes – what’s not to like? In honor of Rosh Hashanah, I baked up this round loaf to bring to work.  I fully realize the irony that the challah will mostly be consumed by fellow carb-loving gentiles like myself.

I’ve tried a few different challah recipes, and have tweaked and adjusted so that the below works consistently for me.  Some things that I favor include using honey instead of sugar, an egg wash that consists of two parts white to one part yolk, hand kneading, resisting the urge to add too much flour to the dough, and a second egg wash halfway through baking.  And I always do the six-strand braid or the round loaf.  Fun times!  But don’t take my word for it, give it a try:

Challah

(Makes one medium sized loaf or two mini loaves. Recipe can be doubled)

  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour (plus up to half a cup more, to be added gradually)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup oil

1. Sprinkle the yeast over the water in a small bowl, with a pinch of sugar. Stir to dissolve the yeast and let stand until you see a thin frothy layer across the top. This means that the yeast is active and ready to use. (If you do not see this, don’t use the yeast! Get new yeast 🙂 ).

2. In a large bowl, combine 4 cups of flour and the salt.  Make a well in the center of the flour/salt mixture.

3. Add 2 of the eggs + an extra yolk, the honey, and the oil to the well formed in Step 2.  Mix until wet and dry ingredients are just combined. (In a separate bowl, add the remaining egg as well as the extra egg white.  This will be for your egg wash).

4. Add the yeast mix to the dough mixture until it is combined.

5. Turn the dough onto a floured work surface and knead by hand for about 10 minutes.  The dough WILL be sticky.  Add flour a spoonful at a time – the end goal is dough that is still tacky but not too “wet”.  You’ll know when you’re done because the dough will hold a ball shape easily.

6. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with a cloth, and let rise in a warm area of the kitchen for approximately 1 1/2 hours.  The dough should double in volume.

7.  Once the dough has risen, separate into pieces and shape however you wish – my favorite is the six-strand brand, though I made a round loaf as is customary for Rosh Hashanah.  A simple three-strand braid is also always an option 🙂

9. Place the shaped loaf on a parchment-lined baking sheet for it to rise again.  Again, let rise in a warm area of the kitchen for about an hour.

10. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F. After the loaf has risen, add a tablespoon of water to the egg + egg white wash, and brush the wash all over the challah.

11. Place the egg-washed challah loaf in the oven to bake for 20 minutes.  After 20 minutes, brush another layer of egg wash and bake for another 15 minutes, rotating the pan.  The finished challah will be a golden brown color and emit a hollow sound when “thumped”.

12. Let the challah cool on a wire rack. Enjoy!

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Have you had challah before?

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