This was my first time baking Challah, also known as Jewish egg bread. It’s an enriched yeast bread that is very straightforward to make. As far as bread making goes, Challah is easy to make and only takes a couple of hours. There is minimal kneading involved and no fussy techniques.
As you can see in the directions below, making Challah is pretty easy, it just takes time. The best part about this bread is how diverse it can be- after making it you can freeze it or use it for a bread pudding the next day.
Challah is a crowd-pleaser that everyone will enjoy slathering with butter and honey, especially when it’s straight out of the oven.
How to Tell if Your Yeast is Alive
There’s few things worse in bread making than using a dead yeast packet. It’s important to remember that yeast is a living organism, and should be treated as such! You have to activate your yeast before adding it to your dough.
Take your warm (not hot!) water and place it in a small bowl. Add your honey or sugar, anything that the yeast can eat, even milk will work, as long as there is sugar in it. Add the yeast to the water and honey mixture and whisk for thirty seconds, until all ingredients are combined. Let the mixture sit undisturbed for five minutes. When you return to it, the mixture should be bubbling and it should look “alive”. The bubbles mean that the yeast is eating the sugars in the ingredients and is active. You can use this mixture and it will make your bread rise.
If you return to your mixing bowl and there is no movement in your mixture, such as it is the same as you left it, your yeast is dead and you will need to start over with different yeast. Double-check the expiration date on your yeast package and also ensure that it was stored correctly, in a cool location like in a pantry. If the yeast was overheated or past its expiration date, it has gone bad.
How to Braid Challah Bread
Challah really comes alive when it is braided. If you know how to make a simple braid, then you know how to braid Challah.
Braiding Challah bread can be as simple or as complex as you’d like it to be. You can make the simple three-strand braid, the more complex 5 or 6 stranded braid.
When braiding the loaves, try to keep the same consistency of pressure and tightness throughout the loaf. You can see in the picture that I started with too much pressure and it warped the sides of the bread. When it baked it just exasperated the mistake.
When you come to the ends of the braid, just pinch the ends together and fold them under themselves. The bread will stick to itself.
When baking the bread, remember to lightly grease the sheets and add the egg wash to the tops of the Challahs!
What to do with Leftover Challah Bread
There are many ways to use leftover Challah bread before it goes stale. This recipe is for two loaves of bread, and sometimes (not always!) there are leftovers.
- 8 cups flour
- 3 eggs , divided
- 2 1/2 cups warm water (110 F)
- 1/2 cup honey
- 4 tablespoons oil
- 3 tablespoons yeast
- 1 tablespoon salt
- (optional) sesame or poppy seeds
How to Make Challah Bread:
1). Put your water in a large bowl and sprinkle the active dry yeast into it. Add your honey, oil, salt and 2 eggs to the bowl. Begin to beat the mixture.
2). Add the flour in slowly, one cup at a time. Continue to beat thoroughly after adding each cup. Knead the dough until smooth and elastic and until no longer sticky.
3). Cover with a damp cloth and let rise for 1.5 hours.
4). After rising, punch the dough down and take it out of the bowl. Divide into half. Bring onto a floured surface and knead each half for about 15 minutes, adding flour as necessary until no longer sticky.
5). Braid and arrange the Challahs as you see fit. After braiding and arranging, cover the Challahs with a cloth and let the bread rise for another hour.
6). After rising, beat the remaining egg and use as an egg wash and brush over the loaves. Sprinkle with seeds if you desire.
7). Bake for 40 minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit. The bread will turn a deep golden color. Challah will be done when it sounds hollow when you knock on it and when it easily comes apart from the baking sheet.
Let the bread rest for about half an hour before cutting into it. Serve warm with butter and honey.
Did you want to learn how to make Challah bread? How did it turn out? Tell me in the comments below.