Have you thought about making Challah bread, but don’t know how? Well… I am here to show you! After trying it once you’ll have no fear of making it again. Honestly, it’s very straightforward. Made with simple ingredients and you’ll get to play with different braiding techniques. It’s fun and looks so pretty when baked. You can also play with different toppings and flavor combinations. Now, let’s get started!
What is Challah Bread?
Challah bread (pronounced Haa-luh) is a simple but rich dough made with flour, eggs, water, and yeast. The richness comes from the large number of eggs used, which also gives the dough a nice pale yellow color. There are different variations of Challah, some have the addition of raisins, seeds, or spices. And, even more variations of braiding styles.
This traditional Jewish bread is usually served on holidays, but you don’t need to wait for a holiday to actually make it. It’s easier to make than it seems. And it’s delicious not only as is, but you can also make it into a French toast or Bread pudding. You can freeze it and use it later. Basically, you have no reason not to make it!
Is Challah bread the same as Brioche bread?
They are similar, but not quite the same. Challah bread uses more eggs and less fat. The fat used is non-dairy, usually some type of unflavored oil. Whereas Brioche bread uses more fat which is usually butter.
Can Challah dough be refrigerated?
Yes. Once you make the dough transfer it to a large bowl, cover with plastic or a lead and place it in the fridge. When ready to use, take it out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature. Braid the Challah and let it rise before baking.
Can Challah Bread be frozen?
Yes. You can definitely freeze the Challah bread and use it later. It makes perfect French Toast and Bread Pudding.
Can I use butter instead of oil?
Yes, you can. There is not a set rule to use only oil. You can definitely use butter in the same ratios as oil. The difference will be only that traditional Challah is made without dairy, but the taste will be just as good, and in my opinion even better.
How to make this wonderful bread?
Note: For exact measurements and directions see the recipe card below!
- As with any dough first, you want to make sure the yeast is fresh. For that reason, you need to mix the yeast with the warm water and honey. Let it sit for few minutes. If it foams up then that is a good indication you have healthy, fresh yeast. You can definitely mix everything and let the dough rise, but you have to be sure the yeast is fresh. You don’t want to waste all the ingredients in case you got a bad batch of yeast.
- Once the yeast is ready, sift the flour into a bowl, add the salt, eggs, oil, and yeast mixture. Carefully mix everything. When you have a rough dough, you can transfer it to a flat surface and knead for few more minutes till it’s smooth and elastic. You can also use a stand mixer with the dough hook attached, mix on medium.
- When the dough is ready, transfer it back to a pre-oiled bowl and let it rise for at least an hour in a warm place.
- Once the dough has risen give it a light knead and divide it into four pieces. Roll each piece into a log about 12″(31cm) long. Take four of the logs and pinch the end of each log together, creating an A-shape (see video for directions). Braid it using one of the many different techniques.
How to braid Challah Bread – Video
Don’t let a braiding technique stop you from making this Challah bread. If you can’t make it exactly the way it looks, just do a simple wrap or a twist. It will still be delicious!
- When you are done braiding the dough transfer it to a parchment-lined baking tray or a dish. Cover, and let it rise.
- Preheat the oven to 350F(180C). Once the Challah has risen brush it with an egg wash and leave it as is, or you can sprinkle sugar, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, chopped nuts, or anything you would like.
- Bake and do one more egg wash towards the end of baking. Not necessary but it will look pretty and evenly shiny when baked. The reason to do a second egg wash is that, as the dough expands while baking it creates more surface and dry patches. Going over with the egg wash a second time will create an even shiny layer.
- Bake for about 35min, depending on your oven. When the top is nice and brown, the bread is ready. You can also use a toothpick to check if it’s baked through. If it comes out clean, it’s ready.
You can play with different toppings and fillings, the options are endless. You can even make it savory, for example, cheese and jalapenos, sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms and cheese, olives… Whatever your heart desire.
How to store Challah Bread?
Challah Bread is best to be eaten within a day or two. It does dry out quickly. Make sure to store it in a plastic bag or airtight container. And even if it dries out, don’t think about tossing it! It makes amazing French Toast or Bread Pudding. You can also freeze it and use it later.
For more similar ideas and recipes I recommend:
SAVORY ROLLS WITH SUN-DRIED TOMATOES, SPINACH, AND CHEESE – These are amazing for breakfast or a snack. Super soft and pillowy, with incredible flavor.
THE BEST CINNAMON ROLLS RECIPE – My favorite Cinnamon roll recipe, it’s perfect every time!
HOW TO MAKE CHALLAH BREAD RECIPE
- 7 g Instant Yeast
- 60 ml Warm water 1/4 cup
- 40 g Honey 2 tbsp
- 312 g Bread Flour or AP Flour 2.5 cups
- 1/2 t Salt
- 3 Eggs room remperature
- 50 ml Vegitable Oil or melted butter
- 1/3 c Raisins – golden or mix Optional
- 1 Egg
- 1 tbsp Water
- 2 t Sesame seeds or Poppy seeds Optional
- Add instant yeast, water, and honey into a large bowl. Let it sit for a few minutes for the yeast to activate.
- When the yeast is foamy sift in the flour. Add salt, eggs, and oil. Mix till everything comes together. Then transfer to a flat surface and knead till it's smooth, soft, and a bit sticky but holds a ball shape. If it's too steaky when kneading you can add flour a little at a time.
- Transfer to a pre-oiled bowl and cover with a towel. Let it rise two, three times its size. That can take up to an hour or longer, depending on the room temperature.
- Once the dough has risen transfer it to a lightly floured table. Divide it into as many pieces as you would like to (depending on the braid you want to make). In this case, I made 4 pieces.
- Make each braid about 12″(31cm) long and 11/4″-1.5″(3cm) thick.
- Braid the Challah (see video), transfer to a baking tray lined with parchment paper, cover with a towel and let it rise for about an hour.
- Pre-heat the oven to 350F(180C) 20-30 minutes before baking.
- Before transferring the challah to the oven, make the egg wash. Wisk the egg and the water together.
- Brush the Challah bread with the egg wash. Sprinkle with seeds of your choice, if using any. Save the rest of the egg wash for a second brush.
- Bake for about 35 minutes, depending on your oven. In the last 10-15min, brush one more time with the egg wash. When the top is brown and a toothpick comes out clean the bread is ready.
- Let it cool for a few minutes before enjoying.