Challah Bread Recipe

This year, skip the schlep to the bakery.

challah-bread
Photo by J. Muckle

Similar to brioche bread in that it’s slightly sweet and fortified with eggs, challah is a traditional braided Jewish bread eaten during Shabbat dinners and special occasions (hello, Hanukkah). This version requires no special techniques, and can be made from start to finish during the span of one afternoon with only twenty minutes of hands-on work—in other words, just about the amount time it would take to stop by the store. And, bonus: if it’s not gobbled up immediately, day-old leftovers make for heavenly French toast.

Active Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours, 55 minutes
Makes: 1 large loaf

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ ounce instant yeast (1 envelope)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs, divided
  • 4 tablespoons canola oil

Directions:

  1. Combine the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt in a medium bowl.
  2. Whisk together 2 eggs plus 1 egg yolk (reserving the egg white), canola oil, and ½ cup of lukewarm water in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment.
  3. With the mixer on low, gradually add the flour mixture. Knead until a smooth and elastic ball forms, about 5 minutes. If dough sticks to the sides, add more flour as needed. (If you do not have a stand mixer, knead by hand for 10 minutes.)
  4. Place the dough in a lightly-oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set in a warm place to rest until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
  5. Separate the dough into three equal pieces, and roll each piece into a 1”-diameter rope. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Pinch one end of the ropes together, braid the strands firmly, then pinch the other end to seal. Drape the braid with plastic wrap, and let it rise for 1 hour until doubled in size.
  6. Heat oven to 350° F. Whisk the reserved egg white with one tablespoon of water, and brush all over the loaf. Bake until deep golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes.