When my husband mentioned about Challah bread, I started researching. Honestly most of the recipes are intense – and this one that I found took a bit of deciphering! However, with all that work I can finally keep this simple challah bread recipe for novice bakers like me!
This is the first new recipe of 2021 and I have to say it did not disappoint! I am not a very experienced bread maker, so this was a little tricky at first. A few months ago I made my own pretzels from scratch which are a family favorite (and that’s the truth).
So here we are a few recipes under my belt and I am loving the process of learning how to bake and get creative in the kitchen. Especially bread! Who knew the beauty of baking bread, but man is it a process…whew.
What is Challah Bread!?
If you’re a bread connoisseur challah bread is fairly similar to brioche, however there are some differences. Challah is a special bread in Jewish cuisine, usually braided and typically eaten on ceremonial occasions such as Shabbat and major Jewish holidays (via Google).
Challah bread has a sweetness and richness that I haven’t tasted before and I LOVE IT! I see this as a sharing bread or one you have over dinner with family and friends.
Simple Challah Bread Recipe
The original recipe was adapted from House of Nash Eats. This recipe does yield 2 loaves, but I did see the same recipe with very little adjustments here that yields one loaf. So hopefully this simple challah bread recipe for novice bakers will help you find the confidence to make your own loaves! Also with the braiding technique, I personally just intertwined the strands of bread in a weaving fashion and that was easiest for me.
I want to note that the prepping process takes about 2.5 hours just to let the dough rise – however it bakes quickly! Also remember that the secret to the shine and glossy loaf is to brush with an egg wash twice. Once right after braiding the dough and then again just before baking.
- 1 3/4 cups warm water
- 1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten (reserve for an egg wash after braiding)
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 8 to 8 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading/dusting
- Sesame seeds, for dusting (optional)
Note: You can proof the yeast to ensure it’s active, but it’s not necessary.
- Set the 1 1/2 tablespoons of yeast in warm water with a tablespoon of sugar in a large bowl until foamy, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the oil, 4 eggs, with the sugar and salt. Gradually add the flour, 1 cup at a time, to make a soft dough. You can use a mixer to start then end with hand kneading.
- Remove the dough from the bowl. Clean out and lightly oil the bowl before returning the dough to it.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a cloth and let the challah dough rise in a warm, draft-free spot for about an hour. It should almost doubled in size.
- Uncover dough and punch the dough down (enjoy this part!). Then re cover it with plastic wrap and let it rise again for another half hour.
Let’s braid and set the Challah bread!
You can refer to pictures here from the original recipe:
- To form the 6-strand challah braid, divide the dough in half for two loaves on a clean surface. Divide each half into 6 equally sized portions and roll the balls of dough into 6 equally sized strands, each about 16 inches long. Place the strands side by side and pinch the tops together.
- Starting with the outside right strand, move it over 2 strands to the left. Then take the second strand from the left and move it all the way across to the far right.
- Next, take the outside left strand and move it over 2 strands to the right. Then move the second strand from the right over to the far left. Repeat the pattern by starting again with the outside right strand being moved over 2 strands to the left, and so on until you have a long, braided loaf.
- Tuck the end of the braid underneath the loaf to secure it. Your braid is likely to be fairly long and skinny at this point, and that’s completely normal. To finish shaping the loaf, you need to plump it a bit into more of a loaf shape by sort of lifting and smooshing the braid in on itself a bit and wiggling it a bit to make the loaf a bit shorter, wider, and even from top to bottom.
- The braid shouldn’t come undone – you are just evening out the shape here to make your loaf look nice. This step can be done as you are transferring the braid from the surface where you formed it onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Time to Bake Novice Baker!
- With at least 2 inches in between them so they don’t touch as they rise. Beat the remaining egg and brush half of it on loaves using a pastry brush. Be sure to get in the crevices of the braid and down the sides of the loaves.
- Allow the loaves to rise for one more hour in a warm place, then brush again with the remainder of the egg wash. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, if using ( it makes the loaf even more traditional).
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees then bake the challah for 30-35 minutes until golden brown (or when the internal temperature of the bread reaches 190 degrees on an instant-read thermometer).
- Eat one loaf warm with butter for dinner and save the other loaf for the most delicious french toast ever!
Let me know how this simple challah bread recipe for novice bakers works for you friend! I know for sure that you’ll love it.