I love the process of making homemade challah, and have made various types, Including more nutritious versions like Homemade Spelt Challah and whole wheat challah. If you’re favorite kind of challah is white bread and you are looking for a traditional white challah recipe, this is my favorite traditional challah bread recipe I have made yet, and is relatively simple to make compared to other’s I’ve made in the past.
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My Favorite Challah Recipe
Yields 2 loaves
For the challah dough:
- 1 and 1/3 cup water
- 1 Tablespoon instant or active dry yeast
- ½ cup +1 tsp sugar
- 1/3 cup canola or grapeseed oil
- 4 egg yolks (don’t throw out the egg whites!)*
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 4¼ – 5 cups bread flour (all purpose flour is fine too)
For the topping:
- 1 egg yolk or full egg
- 1 teaspoon water
- Combine 1/2 cup of warm water, 1 tsp sugar and yeast in a small bowl. Stir until yeast is completely dissolved and wait 5-10 min (unless using instant yeast). Add the rest of the water, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup oil, 4 egg yolks, 2 tsp salt.
- Add 4.5 cups of flour until dough. Add more (in small intervals) if needed so dough is no longer sticky.
- Turn out dough on to a floured board and knead for 5 minutes. Allow to rise in a large bowl in a dark place, covered with plastic wrap or a towel for 1.5 hours.*
- Divide dough in half for two loaves of challah (and then split based on the amount of strands you want, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6). If you find dough is sticky as you are rolling out the strands, it’s not too late to add extra flour.
- I find this video from Jamie Geller for 6 stranded challah always helpful when I make challah.
- For the other challah, I tried a 5 stranded spiral braid from BeSondersGut, and the video is helpful, but it’s hard for the braid to look good if you don’t take the time to roll out nice, long evenly made strands (make sure dough is not too sticky too). I also think 4 strand braids look great (I find these instructions to be the least complicated).
- Cover with a towel and let rise for 60 minutes in a draft-free place.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Beat egg yolk and mix in water to prepare the egg wash. Brush over each challah, sprinkle with topping of choice (optional).
- Bake in middle of oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden brown.
- Best served slightly warm.
*Don’t throw away your egg whites! I either use them to make egg white omelettes orMini Pavlovas
*If you want to refrigerate dough before baking, put the dough in the fridge (still covered) after the first 90 min rise. It can stay in the fridge for up to 5 days. Then, when you are ready to use it, take it out of the fridge, let it sit on the counter for around 15-20 min or so to get closer to room temperature, and then braid.
Some of my favorite designs:
regular braid with a rope (cut pieces in the rope and put on top of the braid for a funky design), add fresh herbs.
Braid and wrap around a ramekin and bake. When done baking, add olive oil with herbs (or your favorite dip) inside the ramekin.