Easter, Holiday Bread, Sweet Bread

How to Make Easy Challah Bread

Can you ever have too much bread?  I don’t think so, especially when it’s fragrant homemade challah bread.  I love the gloriously shiny crust and soft, slightly sweet interior!  The chewy texture of this well-flavored bread makes it so tempting fresh from the oven. 😋

Braided challah bread with a plate of butter and gray fabric

One of the lovely things about this challah recipe is that the dough is easy to mix up; there’s just some waiting time for the dough to prove, or rise.  Trust me, it’s worth the wait! 😉🍞 I’ve simplified the braiding with a basic five-strand plait.  You can do a three-strand braid for an even easier version.  Regardless of which braid you choose, make sure to plait the dough tightly without stretching the strands too much.  Pulling on the strands will make your loaf skinnier at one end than the other.

A loaf of challah bread being torn apart

Okay, enough talking.  You need to get in the kitchen right now and make this challah for your family and friends, even if it isn’t Easter.  Then, tear or slice it apart and serve with salted butter.  It will make your meal special!

Looking for more sweet bread recipes?  You’ll want to try these ones.

Pulla: Finnish Cardamom Bread: a light brioche dough that's plaited and sprinkled with pearl sugar before baking. It's a delicious with a cup of tea or coffee! | www.savortheflavour.com tray of maple pecan sticky buns with greenery

Kanellängd: Swedish Cinnamon Bread: it’s easier than it looks to make this swirly cinnamon bread.

Pulla: Finnish Cardamom Bread: the Finns’ favorite snack to have with a cup of coffee.

Maple Pecan Sticky Buns: wonderfully sticky, caramelly cinnamon buns that are freezer friendly.

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A loaf of challah sliced open on a white plate

How to Make Easy Challah Bread


  • Author: Emma
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 hours 15 minutes
  • Yield: 1 large loaf

Description

Learn how to make easy challah bread with this delicious recipe.  This soft, sweet bread is made with honey and olive oil.  It’s surprisingly simple to braid the 5 strands of challah dough into a stunning centerpiece for an Easter brunch or a Jewish Sabbath meal!


Ingredients

  • 4 cups bread flour (500g)
  • 3 teaspoons fast-action yeast (10g)
  • 2 teaspoons fine salt (10g)
  • 5 tablespoons liquid honey (106g)
  • 1/3 cup light-tasting olive oil (70g)
  • 2 large eggs + 2 large egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup water (150 ml)
  • 1 large egg yolk, for glazing

Instructions

Making the Dough (25 minutes + 2 hours proving)

  1. Warm the water to 115 F.
  2. Place the bread flour in a large mixing bowl and add the salt and yeast on opposite sides of the bowl, stirring in each one with your finger.  Pour in the honey, olive oil, eggs, and yolks.
  3. Gradually add the warm water as you mix by hand, trickling in a little at a time to create soft, slightly sticky dough.  You may not need all the water.
  4. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead for 10 to 15 minutes, until the dough is smooth, no longer sticky, and has a glossy sheen on its surface.  Test to see if it’s kneaded enough by pulling off a lump of dough and stretching it between the thumb and forefinger of each hand.  If the dough can stretch until it’s translucent without breaking, it’s kneaded enough.  If not, knead for a minute longer and check again.
  5. Shape the dough into a ball, place in an oiled bowl, and cover tightly with plastic wrap.  Set aside in a warm place until about doubled size, approximately 2 hours.

Shaping the Challah (20 minutes + 1 hour proving)

  1. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and punch it down all over to knock out excess gas.
  2. Divide the dough into 5 equal pieces, using a kitchen scale for accuracy.
  3. Roll each piece into a rope about 20 inches long.  If you’re having trouble rolling out the strands, let them rest for a couple minutes while you work on another strand.  This will relax the gluten, allowing them to roll out more easily.
  4. Line up the 5 ropes side by side, then squeeze them together at the top to join.  Split the strands into two groups: a group of two on the left, and a group of three on the right.
  5. Begin the braiding by crossing over the third strand from the second group and placing it beside the second strand in the first group.  Then, cross over the first strand from the first group and place it beside the first strand in the second group.  Repeat this process until the whole challah is braided, then pinch the ends to seal and tuck the ends underneath.  Gently pick up the loaf and place it on a lightly floured 11 by 17-inch cookie sheet.
  6. Place the tray inside of a large, clean garbage bag and inflate the bag, tucking the ends underneath to seal.  Let the challah prove in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  7. About 10 minutes before the bread is done proving, preheat the oven to 375 F.

Baking the Challah (30 minutes + cooling)

  1. Beat the egg yolk with a little water to thin it, then brush it on the risen challah.
  2. Stack the tray of challah on top of another cookie sheet to help prevent the base from cooking too quickly, then bake at 375 F for 10 minutes.  Check the bread without opening the door, and if it’s getting too dark, cover it with aluminum foil.
  3. Lower the temperature to 325 F and bake for another 15-20 minutes.  The bread should be a rich golden brown and have an internal temperature of 190 degrees.
  4. Let the challah cool completely on a wire rack before slicing and serving to allow the crumb structure to set, about 1 hour.  Serve with butter.

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