How to Make Challah Bread
Brave braiding dough while you bake at home.
Students in our Health-Supportive Culinary Arts program make a variety of artisan breads during their pastry module, including the braided egg bread, challah.
The traditionally braided bread is symbolic in Jewish culture, often consumed on Fridays for Shabbat. It's among the decorated breads covered in our Pastry & Baking Arts program as well as the Artisan Bread Baking course, which features 40 varieties throughout eight weeks at our New York campus.
Jewish bakeries use oil so the challah can be eaten with a dairy or meat meal, but we use butter because it tastes so much better. To make a traditional loaf, you can substitute a neutral vegetable oil like canola, corn or sunflower oil.
Here's a simple recipe our students follow.
- 2 1/4 cups warm water (110 F)
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1 tablespoon dry yeast
- 3 large eggs, beaten + 3 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons sea salt
- 7-8 cups unbleached white all-purpose flour
3 eggs beaten with 2 tablespoons water
- Preheat oven to 350 F. In large bowl, combine water, honey and yeast. Proof about 10 minutes until mixture is foamy. Add eggs, butter, salt and just enough flour to create dough that pulls away from sides of bowl.
- Knead dough about 10 minutes, adding extra flour as necessary, or until smooth dough has been created.
- Transfer dough to large, clean, lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Proof in warm place for 45-60 minutes or until dough has doubled in size.
- While dough is proofing, line two half-sheet pans with parchment paper.
- Turn/fold dough. Rise one more time.
- Divide dough into two equal portions. Divide each portion of dough into balls equaling the number of braids you’ve chosen to make. Roll each ball of dough with your hands on table to form logs of equal width and length (about 1-inch wide and 10-12 inches long). Pinch logs of dough together at top and braid dough.
- Loosely cover challahs with damp towels and set aside in warm place. Rise until dough has doubled in size, 15 to 20 minutes.
- Bake bread approximately 30-40 minutes or until dough is thoroughly golden and firm to touch. Internal dough temperature should register between 190 F and 205 F. Brush with egg wash a few minutes before bread is finished baking.