CHALLAH BREAD

Posted on: May 8, 2020. Updated on: July 12, 2023.

by Carolina Gelen

5 / 5. from 2

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Challah is a Jewish bread usually served at the Shabbat dinner.

This bread is very similar to the French brioche, except challah doesn’t contain any dairy. This type of bread is slightly sweet, but it is meant to be eaten with savory foods as well as paired with sweet toppings.

Nothing compares to freshly baked challah bread, and this one’s the best loaf I have made so far. For those of you intimidated by baking or challah making beginners, let me tell you, I spent several days testing and perfecting this recipe. I can assure you that this recipe is guaranteed to give you a full stomach and happy heart, if you follow all the steps.

To simplify the process, I decided it will be easier to write a recipe that makes 1 single challah loaf, so you could multiply these measurements by however many loaves you are intending on making.

Here is the recipe:

INGREDIENTS (makes 1 loaf)

GRAMS

  • 20-25 grams fresh yeast or 7 grams active dry / instant yeast
  • 125 grams lukewarm water
  • 50 grams sugar
  • 70 grams neutral oil
    • such as sunflower seed oil, grape seed oil, vegetable oil, canola oil, etc.
  • 3 eggs
    • 2 whole eggs
    • 1 separated egg
      • 1 egg yolk for the dough
      • 1 egg white for our egg wash
  • 10 grams salt
  • 500 grams bread or all purpose flour

CUPS

  • 1 tablespoon active dry / instant yeast
  • 1/3 cup and 4 tablespoons lukewarm water
  • 1/4 cup sugar (or 4 tablespoons)
  • 1/3 cup and 1 tablespoon neutral oil
    • such as sunflower seed oil, grape seed oil, vegetable oil, canola oil, etc.
  • 3 eggs
    • 2 whole eggs
    • 1 separated egg
      • 1 egg yolk for the dough
      • 1 egg white for our egg wash
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 1/3 cups bread or all purpose flour

NOTE:

If you do not want to use 3 eggs for one challah loaf, substitute 1 egg with 50 grams of water (or 4 tablespoons of water). Just keep 1 whole egg and 1 egg yolk, then!

Also, feel free to add more sugar if you are planning on making a sweet dessert challah with various add ons.

ANY ADDITIONAL INGREDIENTS
  • 1/2 to 1 cup of raisins or chocolate chips or nuts
  • sesame seeds, flakey salt, poppy seeds, cumin seeds, za’atar, nuts for topping, etc.

INSTRUCTIONS

For a video tutorial, click HERE!

STEP 1

In a bowl, mix the yeast, lukewarm water and sugar together until the yeast has dissolved.

Note: If you are using dry yeast, make sure it is still active by letting it sit in the water for 5 minutes once mixed. If the mixture becomes slightly foamy, it’s active, otherwise, try another sachet of yeast.

Mise en place
Yeast
Add water and sugar

STEP 2

Next, add the oil, 2 whole eggs and 1 egg yolk to the bowl and mix until the sugar has dissolved and everything is well incorporated.

All mixed up

Add the oil
Add the eggs

STEP 3

Add the flour and salt to the liquid batter and mix until the flour has fully hydrated (until there are no visible dry spots). If your dough still feels a bit too dry and hard to knead, don’t be afraid of adding a couple more tablespoons of water to it. The hydration of the dough depends on the size of the eggs you are using and other external variables like the environment you are in and the humidity of the air. Therefore, trust your gut, add some more water if necessary and start kneading!

Add the flour to the liquids
Mix

Mix
Almost there
Done, no more dry spots! Time to knead!

You will see that the dough will start to clean the sides of the bowl while you mix it.

STEP 4

Once everything is incorporated, it’s time to knead our dough, this will encourage the gluten development in our dough which will give structure to our challah loaf.

It took me about 5-7 minutes of kneading by hand to get to the perfectly smooth dough texture.

If you are adding any other ingredients like raisins, chocolate chips or nuts, now is the time to add them to the dough and incorporate them as well. No need for them to participate in the whole kneading process, just add them once you are done kneading the dough.

This is what your dough should look like once kneaded:

These are three different batches of dough, and, as you can see, they are perfectly smooth, you can’t see any dry spots, lumps, nothing. If your dough doesn’t look like this, then it is not ready!

STEP 5

Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a lightly greased bowl.

Cover the bowl and let the dough rest and proof for about 1 hour at 26°C (78°F) – it will take less or more time depending on the temperature of the room. The dough should feel light, airy and it should have doubled in size.

Do not rush this step, if you underproof your dough, the challah will come out dense and chewy.

Here are some before and after photos of a well proofed dough:

BEFORE
AFTER

BEFORE

P.S. This was not lightly greased!

AFTER

STEP 6

Once the dough is done proofing (once it has doubled in size), take it out, place it on a wooden board or directly on the table and flatten it out.

After that, divide the dough into how ever many strands you would like to braid it in – 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, etc. You can eyeball the division of the dough or weigh the whole dough first, and then weigh each piece of dough to make sure they are all equal in weight.

Lay down the risen dough
Flatten it out
Cut, cut, cut

STEP 7

Next, shape each piece of dough as shown in the photos down below, this will ensure an even, smooth, less crusty finish of the dough. Grease your hands or the surface you are working on with some more oil if necessary.

STEP 8

Roll out each individual piece of dough into a strand.

STEP 9

Pinch all the strands of dough together and braid as you please. Try to keep the braiding a bit loose to allow the dough to rise without bursting and snapping once it is in the oven, baking.

Here is a little tutorial on how to braid a 6 strand challah:

STEP 10

Keep in mind you will want to preheat your oven at 200°C (390°F) 7-10 minutes before adding your loaf in.

Place your dough onto a flat baking tray lined with parchment paper or into a loaf tin and cover the dough with a clean towel or saran wrap.

Allow the dough to rise again for 20-30 minutes at 26°C (78°F) – again, it will take less or more time depending on the temperature of the room. Again, do not rush the process, the dough needs time to rise and become light and airy after we worked it out once again.

You will know the dough is done proofing when once you gently poke the dough with your finger, it will leave an indent and not spring back.

Before proofing
Before proofing
After proofing
After proofing

STEP 11

You can absolutely use a regular egg wash – a whole egg plus a tablespoon of water. I preferred to use the leftover egg white as my egg wash, as you usually use 1/4 of the egg wash you’d make anyways.

Before popping our dough into the oven you have two options:

  1. Lightly brush the egg white on top of the challah before adding the dough into the oven if you like a deeper, darker colour. If you are topping the challah with any seeds or nuts or salt, now is the time to sprinkle it on top of the loaf, once the egg wash is on.
  2. The egg wash tends to burn in the oven, so 10-15 minutes into the baking process you will have to pull the dough out and brush the egg was on it again (or for the first time if you did not brush it at all) – you can skip the first egg wash if you want, just pop the challah out of the oven half way through baking and brush the egg wash then, after that, return the challah to the oven.

STEP 12

Pop the challah loaf in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until golden, amber brown.

Note: Try to keep an eye on the challah loaf, once it is in the oven. You know your oven the best, so you will probably anticipate its behavior in this scenario. For example, I know my oven tends to burn the right side of the loaf, so half way through the baking process, I pull out the challah and turn it 180° so the other side will bake evenly as well.

STEP 13

Enjoy! And if you’re making this for the Sabbath, Shabbat Shalom to you!

Keep the challah bread covered, at room temperature for up to 3 days. It will dry out in time, so it is best consumed freshly baked. But have no worries, dried out challah makes the perfect French toast or bread pudding. Here’s the recipe for the bread pudding: click HERE.

CHALLAH BREAD

5 / 5. from 2

Click to vote

Ingredients

GRAMS

  • 20-25 grams fresh yeast or 7 grams active dry / instant yeast
  • 125 grams lukewarm water
  • 50 grams sugar
  • 70 grams neutral oil
    • such as sunflower seed oil, grape seed oil, vegetable oil, canola oil, etc.
  • 3 eggs
    • 2 whole eggs
    • 1 separated egg
      • 1 egg yolk for the dough
      • 1 egg white for our egg wash
  • 10 grams salt
  • 500 grams bread or all purpose flour

CUPS

  • 1 tablespoon active dry / instant yeast
  • 1/3 cup and 4 tablespoons lukewarm water
  • 1/4 cup sugar (or 4 tablespoons)
  • 1/3 cup and 1 tablespoon neutral oil
    • such as sunflower seed oil, grape seed oil, vegetable oil, canola oil, etc.
  • 3 eggs
    • 2 whole eggs
    • 1 separated egg
      • 1 egg yolk for the dough
      • 1 egg white for our egg wash
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 1/3 cups bread or all purpose flour
NOTE:

If you do not want to use 3 eggs for one challah loaf, substitute 1 egg with 50 grams of water (or 4 tablespoons of water). Just keep 1 whole egg and 1 egg yolk, then!

Also, feel free to add more sugar if you are planning on making a sweet dessert challah with various add ons.

ANY ADDITIONAL INGREDIENTS
  • 1/2 to 1 cup of raisins or chocolate chips or nuts
  • sesame seeds, flakey salt, poppy seeds, cumin seeds, za’atar, nuts for topping, etc

Instructions

  1. In a bowl, mix the yeast, lukewarm water and sugar together until the yeast has dissolved.

    Note: If you are using dry yeast, make sure it is still active by letting it sit in the water for 5 minutes once mixed. If the mixture becomes slightly foamy, it’s active, otherwise, try another sachet of yeast.

  2. Next, add the oil, 2 whole eggs and 1 egg yolk to the bowl and mix until the sugar has dissolved and everything is well incorporated.
  3. Add the flour and salt to the liquid batter and mix until the flour has fully hydrated (until there are no visible dry spots). If your dough still feels a bit too dry and hard to knead, don’t be afraid of adding a couple more tablespoons of water to it. The hydration of the dough depends on the size of the eggs you are using and other external variables like the environment you are in and the humidity of the air. Therefore, trust your gut, add some more water if necessary and start kneading!
    Done, no more dry spots! Time to knead!

    You will see that the dough will start to clean the sides of the bowl while you mix it.

  4. Once everything is incorporated, it’s time to knead our dough, this will encourage the gluten development in our dough which will give structure to our challah loaf.

    It took me about 5-7 minutes of kneading by hand to get to the perfectly smooth dough texture.

    If you are adding any other ingredients like raisins, chocolate chips or nuts, now is the time to add them to the dough and incorporate them as well. No need for them to participate in the whole kneading process, just add them once you are done kneading the dough.

    This is what your dough should look like once kneaded:

    These are three different batches of dough, and, as you can see, they are perfectly smooth, you can’t see any dry spots, lumps, nothing. If your dough doesn’t look like this, then it is not ready!

  5. Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a lightly greased bowl.

    Cover the bowl and let the dough rest and proof for about 1 hour at 26°C (78°F) – it will take less or more time depending on the temperature of the room. The dough should feel light, airy and it should have doubled in size.

    Do not rush this step, if you underproof your dough, the challah will come out dense and chewy.

    Here are some before and after photos of a well proofed dough:

  6. Once the dough is done proofing (once it has doubled in size), take it out, place it on a wooden board or directly on the table and flatten it out.

    After that, divide the dough into how ever many strands you would like to braid it in – 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, etc. You can eyeball the division of the dough or weigh the whole dough first, and then weigh each piece of dough to make sure they are all equal in weight.

  7. Next, shape each piece of dough as shown in the photos down below, this will ensure an even, smooth, less crusty finish of the dough. Grease your hands or the surface you are working on with some more oil if necessary.
  8. Roll out each individual piece of dough into a strand.
  9. Pinch all the strands of dough together and braid as you please. Try to keep the braiding a bit loose to allow the dough to rise without bursting and snapping once it is in the oven, baking.

  10. Keep in mind you will want to preheat your oven at 200°C (390°F) 7-10 minutes before adding your loaf in.

    Place your dough onto a flat baking tray lined with parchment paper or into a loaf tin and cover the dough with a clean towel or saran wrap.

    Allow the dough to rise again for 20-30 minutes at 26°C (78°F) – again, it will take less or more time depending on the temperature of the room. Again, do not rush the process, the dough needs time to rise and become light and airy after we worked it out once again.

    You will know the dough is done proofing when once you gently poke the dough with your finger, it will leave an indent and not spring back.

  11. You can absolutely use a regular egg wash – a whole egg plus a tablespoon of water. I preferred to use the leftover egg white as my egg wash, as you usually use 1/4 of the egg wash you’d make anyways.

    Before popping our dough into the oven you have two options:

    1. Lightly brush the egg white on top of the challah before adding the dough into the oven if you like a deeper, darker colour. If you are topping the challah with any seeds or nuts or salt, now is the time to sprinkle it on top of the loaf, once the egg wash is on.
    2. The egg wash tends to burn in the oven, so 10-15 minutes into the baking process you will have to pull the dough out and brush the egg was on it again (or for the first time if you did not brush it at all) – you can skip the first egg wash if you want, just pop the challah out of the oven half way through baking and brush the egg wash then, after that, return the challah to the oven.
  12. Pop the challah loaf in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until golden, amber brown.

    Note: Try to keep an eye on the challah loaf, once it is in the oven. You know your oven the best, so you will probably anticipate its behavior in this scenario. For example, I know my oven tends to burn the right side of the loaf, so half way through the baking process, I pull out the challah and turn it 180° so the other side will bake evenly as well.

  13. Enjoy! And if you’re making this for the Sabbath, Shabbat Shalom to you!

    Keep the challah bread covered, at room temperature for up to 3 days. It will dry out in time, so it is best consumed freshly baked. But have no worries, dried out challah makes the perfect French toast or bread pudding.

Carolina Gelen

I speak 5 languages, but my favorite way to communicate is through the universal language of food. I translate food to be more approachable and accessible for the everyday cook. I didn't grow up with a lot, so I’ve always loved thrifting and finding a good sale. That also shapes my approach to cooking: I try to make most of my recipes as affordable as possible, and that is what my SCRAPS newsletter is about. Every two weeks I will send an exclusive recipe to your inbox. Subscribe to get full access to the newsletter and website.

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22 thoughts on "CHALLAH BREAD"

  1. Anonymous says:

    Fantastic! This will be my Mother’s Day treat! Thank you for sharing all of this time and instruction! When I go for it, I’ll tag you in the post !

    1. Carolina Gelen says:

      I’m happy you’re saying that! Can’t wait to see how your loaf turns out!

  2. Anonymous 2 says:

    Thanks for sharing this recipe and the braiding video; I can’t wait to try them out! A question though, would I be able to use canola or vegetable oil, or should I get grapeseed?

    1. Carolina Gelen says:

      I’m happy to hear that, can’t wait to see your loaf! Canola or vegetable oil will work just fine!

  3. susan says:

    how long does this take to make?

    1. Carolina Gelen says:

      Hi Susan, it does take quite a bit of time, especially if you go for a 6-strand braid. It took me 2 hours to braid about 20 pieces!

  4. Emma says:

    Hi! Is there any way to prep the loaf and freeze it or would that ruin the proofing?

    1. Carolina Gelen says:

      Hi, Emma! I have not done this before, so I can’t guarantee it will be a success, but what I would do is let the dough proof, then braid the loaf and freeze it. Then, I would let the frozen loaf thaw overnight and after that I would bake it. Another thing you could do is freeze the baked loaf and pop it in the oven for a few minutes to defrost it whenever you want to serve it. I hope this helps!

  5. Mrsbrite says:

    Thank you for that 6 braid tutorial! I have been trying to do that for a long time. Must try again for the next batch! Gutten Chodesh and Gut Shabbos

    1. Carolina Gelen says:

      I’m so happy you find it helpful!

  6. Sammy says:

    Hi! If I wanted to make a smaller loaf using only 2 cups of flour, should I halve the amount of water and oil that I add?

    1. Carolina Gelen says:

      Hi Sammy! Yes, you want all the ratios to remain the same. According to my math, you should add about 1/5 cup + 2 tablespoons water and 1/5 cup oil, that should work 🙂

  7. Sahitra says:

    Hi Carolina! Just made this recipe and it was AMAZING! I was a bit unsure how to make it with six braids, so I ended up with four slightly smaller challah with three braids. It was great nonetheless and my whole family loved it. Thank you so much!

    1. Carolina Gelen says:

      Hi Sahitra, I am so so happy to hear that, thank you for getting back to me!

  8. Charlotte says:

    Hello, your recipe looks so great!!!
    I make challah every Shabbat and I would like to share it with my vegan side of the family, any idea what I could replace the eggs by?
    Thank you and have a nice day!! Keep being your great self! 😉

  9. Julie says:

    Hi the link for the video does not work … could you send or put it back please ?

  10. julie says:

    where can we find the video with these steps ?

  11. Laché says:

    Hi!
    Is it possible to make the dough and proof it overnight, in the fridge or at room temp?
    Love the braid!

  12. Fusya says:

    I’ve made it several times and it turns out absolutely perfect! I still can’t quite figure out the braiding so i usually make a round one 🙂 I was just wondering, is there a way to make the dough ahead of time, leave it to sit overnight, then braid, proof and bake in the morning? Should i let it proof for a couple hours and then put it in the fridge overnight?

  13. Noa says:

    Can I make the dough in the evening, proof it over night and do the rest the following day in the afternoon?

  14. Donna says:

    Hi Carolina! I’m so excited to try this for Shabbat tomorrow. What do YOU think is the main difference between using bread flour and all purpose flour for this recipe? Which one do you prefer?

    1. Carolina says:

      Bread flour would be perfect, it will give you a more well-structured challah. I used all-purpose flour since it’s more common, but feel free to use bread flour instead 🙂 You might need a little less bread flour than all purpose flour in the recipe, so don’t add it all in at once, add it gradually 🙂