Challah is sweet, fluffy, and rich! It’s a simple bread recipe that gets its sweetness from honey. It’s typically braided to form a beautiful-looking loaf and is served for the Sabbath and other Jewish holidays.
There are so many different types of bread out there. It’s something I’ve gotten pretty into over the years, and I love to whip up a loaf of my own at home every now and again. If you’ve been following along, you probably remember my recipes for simit (Turkish sesame bread), garlic naan, barbari bread, and Armenia flatbread (lavash). So many countries along the Silk Road have their own particular bread recipes. There’s so much more out there than the white and wheat sandwich bread we’re all used to!
I’ve eaten challah on several different occasions: when friends have me over for Friday Sabbath dinners and at a Hannukah party or two. The first time I tried it I was blown away by its subtle sweetness and light and fluffy texture. I knew I had to try to recreate it myself — and now I want to share my findings with you.
This article also features a handy challah bread recipe braiding tutorial video. The braiding really makes this recipe stand out. You’ll be impressed at how professional-looking the final results will be!
INGREDIENT NOTES AND SUBSTITUTIONS
- Bread Flour - I definitely recommend that you use bread flour instead of all-purpose for this challah bread recipe.
- Eggs - Challah is sometimes also referred to as “egg bread” as it features 2 full eggs and 4 egg yolks in the dough, as well as an egg wash.
- Honey - This is where the signature sweetness of this bread comes from!
- Yeast - Opt for instant yeast.
- Water - Use warm water in the dough batter and cool water for the egg wash.
- Salt - Most bread recipes call for a bit of salt to round out the other ingredients.
- Vegetable Oil - The oil helps to enhance the texture and flavor of this challah bread recipe.
- Sesame Seeds - To sprinkle on top!
HOW TO MAKE CHALLAH
- Create The Dough. Mix the instant yeast with warm water (it should be 95°F in temperature) in a small bowl and allow to rest for 5-8 Minutes. Then, using a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment, place the bread flour and salt into the bowl. With the mixer on low, add the yeast mixture, honey, 2 whole eggs, 4 egg yolks, and vegetable oil. Mix the dough on medium-low — making sure to scrape the sides if needed — for 4-6 minutes.
- Allow To Rise. Grease a medium-sized bowl. Remove the dough from the stand mixer bowl and shape it into a ball. Place it in the bowl and cover it with plastic wrap or a damp towel. Leave it somewhere warm for 1 hour.
- Knead The Dough Again. Uncover your dough. Take the far side and pull it upward and toward yourself (staying inside the bowl) while pressing it down. Turn the bowl and repeat: pull and fold a total of 4 times. Flip the dough over so it lies seam-side down. Cover the bowl again and let it rest for 1 more hour.
- Divide It Up. Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces. Shape each one into a rough rectangle (mine usually look like a hot dog bun), cover, and then allow them to rest for 15 minutes.
- Create 6 “Ropes.” Sprinkle a clean workspace with flour and roll out your dough to create six ropes. Start from the middle and work your way out in order to taper off the edges. They should be 18-inches long. If you find that the ropes shrink when rolling them, let them rest (covered) for 5 minutes to relax the gluten. Follow the braiding instructions below.
- Apply The Egg Wash. Place your braided loaf on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Apply half of the egg wash all over and set the bread aside in a draft-free area to allow it to proof and rise.
- Bake. Preheat your oven to 375°F and apply the remaining egg wash. Add the sesame seeds on top and place the loaf in the oven. Turn down the heat to 325°F and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until it turns a golden brown. Allow to cool before slicing and enjoy!
Braiding 6 Strand Challah (watch video for details)
Step 1: Lay out the 6 ropes and pinch them together firmly to join the strands together at one end. Separate the ropes into 3 sets of 2 so that you can braid them. Move 2 to the left, keep 2 in the center, and move 2 to the right.
Step 2: Going from left to right, move rope 4 up and over rope 3 in the center.
Step 3: Place rope 3 up and over ropes 5 and 5 to the right, and place ropes 5 and 6 to the center. Rope 3 should now be on the outside to the right.
Step 4: Move rope 4 under ropes 1 and 2 to the left and move ropes 1 and 2 to the center. Now, rope 4 should be on the outside to the left.
Step 5: Next, move the second set of two ropes in the center up and over the first set of two in the center.
Step 6: At this point, you should have one rope on the left, two sets of two in the center, and one rope on the right. Lift the single rope to the left over the set of two topes in the center, moving the left set of two ropes to the far left.
Step 7: Now, lift the right set of two ropes up and over the single rope to the right, pulling it down to the center and over the other single center rope.
Step 8: Continue in the same pattern until the entire loaf is braided. When you’re done, pinch all of the edges together and push them underneath the loaf.erdtyrfyubn
What Makes Challah Different From Bread?
Challah is often compared to brioche as both are slightly sweeter than traditional loaves. That said, in terms of sweet bread, the biggest difference between the two is that brioche is made with butter instead of oil.
What Does Challah Taste Like?
Again, this challah bread recipe is very similar to brioche. It’s sweet and fluffy, and the texture is almost spongey — thanks to all of those eggs.
How Do You Eat Challah Traditionally?
As mentioned, Challah is a Jewish bread that is typically enjoyed for the Sabbath and other major holidays. Sometimes it’s served with honey or jam as a sweet treat. You can also simply slice it and toast it as you would a normal loaf of bread!
I like to use this day old bread for a twist on a breakfast classic, too. Be on the lookout for my Challah French Toast recipe coming up!
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Challah Bread (6 Braid Tutorial)
- 2 teaspoon instant yeast (6g )
- ⅓ cup plus 2 tablespoon warm water (102g)
- 4 ¼ cup bread flour (515g )
- 2 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ cup honey
- 2 large eggs
- 4 large egg yolks save whites for other use
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- In a small bowl mix instant yeast with warm water (95°F). Let it sit for 5-8 minutes.
- In a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook add bread flour and salt. With your mixer on low, pour in yeast mixture along with honey, 2 whole eggs, 4 egg yolks and vegetable oil. Mix on medium-low speed, scraping the sides if necessary for 4-6 minutes.
- Lightly grease a medium sized bowl and shape dough into a ball and cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel. Place somewhere warm for 1 hour.
- Remove cover and take the far side of the dough and pull it upward and toward yourself, within the bowl, while pressing it down. Turn the bowl 90° and repeat, pulling and folding a total of 4 times. Flip it over seam side down. Cover again and let it rest again for 1 hour.
- Divide dough into 6 equal pieces, each weighing about 160 grams give or take. Shape each piece into a rough rectangle (mine look like a hot dog bun), cover and allow to rest for 15 minutes.
- Dust a clean work surface with flour and gently roll out your dough into 18-inch ropes (keeping others covered with damp towel) starting from the middle and working your way out to taper off the edges. If the ropes shrink as you try to roll them, let rest covered for 5 minutes to relax the gluten.
- Lay out your 6 ropes and pinch all together firmly, joining the strands together at the one end. Separate the ropes into 3 sets of 2. Move 2 to the left, keep 2 in the center and move 2 to the right (see 1st image second row above).
- Counting Left to Right, move rope 4 up and over rope 3 in the center (2nd image, 2nd row above).
- Move rope 3 up and over ropes 5 and 6 to the right, moving 5 and 6 to the center and rope 3 should be on the outside right (3rd image 2nd row above).
- Move rope 4 under ropes 1 and 2 to the left, moving 1 and 2 to the center and rope 4 should be on the outside left (see 1st image row 3 above).
- Next move the 2nd set of 2 in the center up and over the 1st set of 2 in the center (see 2nd image 3rd row above).
- At this point you should have 1 rope on the left, 2 sets of 2 in the center and 1 rope on the right.
- Lift left single rope over left set of 2 ropes in center, moving left set of 2 ropes to the far left (3rd image 3rd row above).
- Lift right set of 2 ropes up and over right single rope, pulling right single down to center and over single other center rope (3rd image 3rd row above).
- Continue this pattern until all the dough is braided. When you’re done braiding, pinch all of the edges together and push that edge underneath the loaf.
Egg Wash and Proof
- On a parchment paper lined baking sheet, place your braided loaf and brush all over with half the egg wash. Set aside in a draft free area to proof and let it rise, uncovered, for 2 hours.
- Heat your oven to 375°F and brush your loaf one last time with remaining egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Place loaf in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 325°F and bake for 45-50 minutes or until a rich, golden brown.
- Let cool at least 1 hour before slicing.
*The information shown below is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.
I made this! Me. My family can't believe it's not from our bakery either! I've been following you for a while now and love this food site, so many new recipes to try and enjoy. I don't think I've ever taken the time to comment here, but... THANKS for the detailed info, photos and video explaining how to braid challah. This was so delicious and I can't wait to make the french toast you posted today for Saturday breakfast now.
I hope the French toast from this challah was just as delicious as I remember Debo! Thanks for following along. 🙂
Kevin, this is an excellent explanation to braid so many ropes! I can easily braid 3,but I felt a bit challenged to try 6 until now. This is quite close to an egg braid recipe that I've been using for years! Thank you for this! I love baking breads, so I will try this and some of the others you have listed.
So glad I could be of assistance. Enjoy this one Julie. 🙂