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
Yields 2 loaves
For the challah dough:
- 1 and 1/3 cup water
- 1/3 cup canola or grapeseed oil
- 4 egg yolks
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 4¼ cup bread flour (or more until dough is no longer sticky and is smooth)
- ½ cup +1 tsp sugar
- 1 Tablespoon instant or active dry yeast
For the topping:
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon water
- If using active dry yeast: 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 before moving it into a large bowl and mixing it with the rest of the ingredients. If using instant yeast combine all the ingredients in a large bowl.
- Add 4.5 cups of flour until dough. Add more 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 hour. Punch down dough, cover and let rise for another ½ hour.
- 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 30-60 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 35 to 40 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove the loaf after 15 minutes in the oven and reapply left over egg wash to the light areas that have appeared so that the challah is evenly coated in egg wash.
- Best served slightly warm.
For the cinnamon roll filling:
- 6 Tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 4 Tablespoons cinnamon
- While dough is rising, prepare the cinnamon roll filling by mixing the brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.
- On a floured surface, roll three portions into long ropes, and using a rolling pin, roll each portion into a rectangle approximately 12 inches long and 8 inches wide. Spread 1 tablespoon of butter on the surface of each rectangle, and then sprinkle 1/6 of the cinnamon filling evenly over the butter. From the long edge of the dough, gently, but tightly, roll the dough up to the end. Repeat for all 3 rectangles. Carefully braid each of the rolls together, then place on a greased loaf pan or greased cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining dough.
- Top challah with egg wash as normal and then a cinnamon sugar topping.