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!
- 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
Making the Dough (25 minutes + 2 hours proving)
- Warm the water to 115 F.
- 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.
- Gradually add the warm water as you mix on low speed with the paddle attachment of a stand mixer (or by hand), trickling in a little at a time to create soft, slightly sticky dough. You may not need all the water.
- Knead on medium-low speed with the hook for 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth, no longer sticky, and has a glossy sheen on its surface. You may need to add a spoonful or two of flour to get the right consistency. (Alternatively, it turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 10 to 15 minutes.) Use the windowpane 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 it can stretch until it’s translucent without breaking, it’s kneaded enough. If not, knead for a minute longer and check again.
- 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 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Shaping the Challah (20 minutes + 1 hour proving)
- Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and punch it down all over to knock out excess gas. Divide into 5 equal pieces, using a kitchen scale for accuracy.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Cover with plastic wrap and let it prove in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
- About 10 minutes before the bread is done proving, preheat the oven to 375 F.
Baking the Challah (30 minutes + cooling)
- Beat the egg yolk with a little water to thin it, then brush it on the risen loaf.
- 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.
- 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.
- Let the loaf cool completely on a wire rack before slicing and serving to allow the crumb structure to set, about 1 hour. Serve with salt or butter.
- Use good quality ingredients. Especially be sure to use a good bread flour; my favorite is King Arthur.
- Don’t stretch the ropes of dough as you braid them. This will make the loaf fat at one end and skinny on the other.
- Dense bread? It probably didn’t rise enough, resulting in a doughy texture. Next time, let it rise until springy to the touch and almost doubled in size before baking.
- Too dry? The loaf was most likely baked too long. Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the bread and wait a few seconds. It should read 190 F when the loaf is fully baked.
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Baked
- Cuisine: Jewish
Keywords: easy challah bread, challah bread recipe