Challah Bread

So, I am starting to branch out from just making Boule {artisan free-form loaf} and experimenting with Challah bread.  I wanted to make this out of pure necessity; it is simply very difficult to find Challah bread in the grocery stores and I can't always find the time to drive to Maplewood to pick up a loaf at Great Harvest Bread Company.  

Mike and I love using this sweet, buttery bread for french toast.  But, it is equally good toasted with a little jelly.  I just recently learned that true challah bread does not use eggs or butter per Jewish custom laws.  You can make this bread with oil, but I incorporated butter, so it is made more like a brioche {an enriched European bread}.  

I found that rolling this dough into a long rope required patience.  If not fully rested the glutens in the bread will shrink the rope by an inch or more.  I would roll it, let it rest 5 minutes, and repeat until the strand was about 33 to 36 inches long.  Then I was able to cut it into 3 pieces for the braiding process.  

The recipe makes three loaves of bread so you can bake all three at once, then freeze.  Otherwise you can safely keep the raw dough in the fridge for 5 days before baking.  

I hope you enjoy!

Recipe found in "The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day" by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois.  

CLICK HERE for a printer friendly recipe.  

Ingredients for Challah Bread

  • 1 3/4 cup of warm water (100 degrees F)

  • 1 tablespoon =10 grams of Granular yeast  **please note most packets of yeast are only 8 grams 

  • 1 tablespoon of Kosher salt

  • 4 large whole eggs, beaten

  • 1/2 cup honey

  • 1/2 cup = 1 stick of unsalted butter, melted

  • 7 cups = 990 grams of All-purpose flour

  • egg wash= 1 egg(beaten) + 1 Tbsp water 

Directions for Challah Bread

  1. Prepare the dough: a) In a large bowl, measure flour and salt.  Set aside. b) In a 6 quart bowl or lidded food container mix together water, yeast, eggs, honey, and melted butter.  c) Add flour and salt to wet ingredients.  Do not knead, but use a wooden spoon or heavy-duty stand mixer (paddle attachment) to incorporate the flour.
  2. Cover the dough, but not airtight, and allow to rest at room temperature about 2 hours.  The dough should rise and then collapse (top will flatten).
  3. The dough can be used immediately after the initial rise, but it is easier to handle when the dough is chilled.  If you are not baking the dough the same day,  refrigerate and use over the next five days.  After 5 days, freeze dough in 1 pound portions (large grapefruit size) and store up to 3 weeks.  Defrost in the refrigerator overnight, then allow the usual rest and rise time.
  4. On baking day: a) Grease or line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  b) Dust the surface of the dough with flour and cut off a 1 pound section.  Cloak the dough with more flour and quickly shape into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom, making quarter turns as you go.
  5. Lightly dust counter top with flour, then with floured hands roll/stretch the dough into a long rope about 3/4 inch thick and 33-36 inches long.  Allow the dough to rest so it won't resist your efforts.  Cut the dough rope into 3 equal pieces.
  6. Braiding the Challah: Lay the 3 strands of dough on your prepared baking sheet.  Starting from the middle of the loaf (not the top of the loaf), pull the left strand over the center and lay it down.  Pull the right strand over the center strand.  Continue to alternate outer strands, always pulling to the center.  When you reach the end, tuck the ends under.  Turn your baking pans so the unbraided ends face you, then repeat the steps of braiding to the other half of the loaf.
  7. Rest the loaf and allow to rise 60-90 minutes depending on the warmth of your home i.e. the cooler the home, the longer the rest time.  
  8. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  When the oven temperature is ready, brush the Challah with the egg wash, then place into the oven.  Bake about 30 minutes.  The top of the Challah should be golden brown and internal temperature = 180 to 185 degrees F.
  9. Allow to cool before slicing.