Makinze is currently Food Editor for Delish, where she develops recipes, creates and hosts recipe videos and is our current baking queen.. Reigning from Oklahoma, she's also our go-to for all things regarding Midwestern cuisine. She's also our expert pie crimper.
Slightly sweet with a pillowy-soft interior, a challah loaf is impressive by taste alone, but the true wow factor is in it's presentation. Whether you serve this signature bread at your Hanukkah festivities or decide to switch the traditional round for a loaf at Rosh Hashanah, challah will be the addition on your table that's just as beautiful to look at as it is delicious to eat.
What is challah?
Challah is a yeast dough, enriched with eggs and oil with a little bit of added sugar for that signature subtle sweetness. Similar to brioche, the bread is slightly sweet and wonderfully soft inside. While the bread's pillow-soft texture can hardly be beat, what really sets challah apart is it's traditional braided presentation.
The signature braid
To give challah its stunning look, the dough is braided before baking. While challah's presentation can differ (see our round challah and challah rolls), a braided loaf is the most traditional way to bake the bread. You can go crazy with a 4- or 6-stranded braid if you prefer, but we went with the classic 3-strand for simplicity in this recipe.
Leftover challah bread
As with most bread, challah is best the day it's made, but any leftovers can be wrapped in plastic once the bread is completely cool and stored at room temperature. If you're looking for the best use of your leftover bread, we're extremely partial to our challah french toast. Stale leftover challah bread does a beautiful job of soaking up the custard, resulting in a perfectly crisp exterior with a pillowy soft middle. It's almost reason enough for making a loaf!
Top Tip: Don't have a stand mixer? No problem! You can make this dough by hand—just know that it's meant to be a sticky dough. When kneading, flour your surface generously and wet your hands slightly to keep the dough from sticking to you. Try not to add too much flour during the kneading process and use a bench scraper to help you lift and fold the dough.
Have you made this yet? Let us know how it went in the comments below!
- 12 serving(s)
- Prep Time:
- 10 mins
- Total Time:
- 3 hrs 30 mins
For the dough
- 1/2 c.
(0.25-oz.) packet active dry yeast
- 1/3 c.
plus 1 tsp. granulated sugar
- 4 1/3 c.
- 2 tsp.
- 1/4 c.
For the egg wash
- 2 tsp.
- 1 tsp.
Poppy seeds or sesame seeds (optional)
- Step 1In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine lukewarm water, yeast, and 1 teaspoon sugar. Let sit until foamy, about 5 minutes.
- Step 2In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, add flour, remaining ⅓ cup sugar, and salt and whisk to combine. Add yeast mixture, oil, and eggs and mix on medium speed until a smooth dough is formed and pulls away from the side of the bowl, about 10 to 15 minutes. Dough will still be slightly sticky.
- Step 3Place dough into a greased bowl and let rise, covered, until doubled, 1 ½ to 2 hours.
- Step 4Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, remove dough and and divide into 3 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a 20” long rope, about 1” wide. Place ropes onto prepared baking sheet and pinch tops together and tuck under. Wet your hands lightly to help pinch together, if necessary.
- Step 5Braid dough into one long rope. Pinch bottom ends together and tuck under braid. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise until an indention remains after poking the dough and almost doubled, about 1 hour.
- Step 6Preheat oven to 350°. Beat egg, water, and sugar together and brush over risen dough. Sprinkle with poppy seeds or sesame seeds, if desired.
- Step 7Bake until bread is golden, 25 minutes. Let cool to room temperature before slicing.