This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. For more information, please visit my Privacy Policy.

There is something just incredibly comforting about a fresh baked challah.

What is Challah?

Challah is a traditional Jewish bread, usually braided and made with eggs and no dairy, made for the Sabbath and holidays. Everyone and their mother’s uncle (where did that saying come from?) has a different recipe for what they claim to be the best challah.

Well, all those people are wrong.

Challah and three slices on cutting board with knife. Challah is covered in everything spice.
Um, yum!!!!

Family Challah Recipe

This. Is. The. BEST. Challah recipe.I cannot take credit for it, however. My sister-in-law has been making this challah for about 20 years. I don’t know why, but I never asked her for the recipe until about a year ago. I’m glad I did!

I recently asked her where she got the recipe. She believes it was initially a recipe included with her bread machine and, over the years, she doctored it up by, among other things, adding an additional egg yolk and increasing the amount of honey. Brilliant work, Jenn!

This recipe is super easy and renders the perfect challah – bready, doughy, eggy, and slightly sweet.

All of the ingredients to make challah: bottle of oil, bowl of eggs, bag of bread flour, bottle of honey, package of salt, package of yeast, and bowl of sugar.
Challah basic ingredients: neutral oil, sugar, yeast, salt, honey, bread flour, and 5 egg yolks.
Yeast dissolved in water starting to bubble
If using active dry yeast, gently stir it in the warm water with 1 tsp. of the sugar until it gets foamy. You can substitute instant yeast for active dry. If you do so, you can skip this step and just mix all the ingredients (except salt) to get started.
Five egg yolks in a bowl.
This recipe uses 5 egg yolks! The yolks are what make this challah deliciously rich.
Dough after kneading, being lifted from the mixer bowl.
The final dough will be somewhat tacky and slightly resist being lifted from the bowl.
Stretching the dough for the windowpane test.
The dough is done kneading when it passes the windowpane test. When you stretch a small clump of dough, it should pull apart until it is translucent without ripping.

Uses for Challah Dough

Challah dough is also very versatile. Sprinkle it with any sort of seed. Knead in raisins, or craisins, or dried blueberries. Roll out the dough and spread with cinnamon sugar for a cinnamon babka or cinnamon rolls. Or, if going the savory route, use pesto. Better yet, use it for onion rolls. (That’s foreshadowing: recipe for onion rolls coming soon!)

Three strands of challah braided half way
If you roll out the strands really long, you will end up with a long, skinny challah.
Three strand braided challah with a top line of dough decoratively cut with scissors.
Want to make your challah look extra fancy? Pull out a small amount of the dough before you divide it into the number of strands to braid. Roll that reserved amount of dough into a rope the length of your braided challah and place it on top. Cut the sides approximately 1/3 of the width of the rope in an alternating pattern.
Three strand braided raisin challah before baking
If you want to make just one challah with raisins, knead the raisins in just before dividing into strands for braiding.

Challah is great for all sorts of sandwiches, dunking into soup, French toast, or just good, old fashioned munching. I love it with a shmear of cream cheese.

Baked three strand challah topped with everything spice on a cutting board
Everything spice blend works great on challah.

Looking for a round Challah or just an ornate challah? Check out my Festive Challah.

Want a whole wheat version? Check out my Whole Wheat Challah.

Challah

4.67 from 6 votes
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 24 slices
Calories 159
The fluffiest, pillowiest challah is perfect for snacking, sandwiches and French toast. This recipe makes two loaves.

Ingredients

  • 235 grams warm water (1 cup)
  • 7 grams active dry yeast (2¼ teaspoons or 1 envelope)
  • 50 grams sugar, divided (¼ cup)
  • 630 grams bread flour (4½ cups)
  • 5 egg yolks (room temperature)
  • 72 grams oil (vegetable, canola, or any seed oil) (⅓ cup)
  • 113 grams honey (⅓ cup)
  • 8 grams salt (1¼ teaspoons)
  • 1 egg combined with 1 tsp. water (for a slightly darker look, skip the water; for an even darker look, use just the yolk)
  • raisins (optional, see below for amounts)
  • sesame seeds, poppy seeds, flax seeds, quinoa, everything spice mixture, etc. for topping (optional)

Instructions 

  • Pour water (should be generally between 105°F and 110°F) into mixing bowl of electric mixer. Sprinkle with yeast and about 1 tsp. of the sugar. Stir gently to hydrate the yeast. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes to get foamy.
  • Add the flour, rest of the sugar, yolks, oil, and honey. With the dough hook attachment, knead the mixture for about 3-5 minutes.
  • With the mixer on low, slowly add the salt. Knead for an additional 2-3 minutes until the salt is fully absorbed and the dough passes the windowpane test. (If making an entire batch with raisins, once the dough passes the windowpane test, add 219 g. (1½ cups) raisins and knead until fully incorporated. If using part of the dough for raisins, knead the raisins into the portion of dough as described in paragraph 6.)
  • Place dough in ungreased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in warm area for about 3 hours.
  • Gently deflate the dough by pulling a piece from the bottom and folding it over itself, turning the bowl so you can do four similar folds.
  • Weigh the dough and divide into two or three equal portions, depending on how many challahs you are making. (If dividing into two and you want to make one of them with raisins, knead in 110 g. (¾ cup) of raisins. If dividing into three and you want to make one of them with raisins, knead in 73 g. (½ cup) raisins.)
  • Further divide each portion into the number of strands you be making for each braid. (Tip: If you plan to make a traditional 3 strand braid, you can divide the total amount of dough into either two or three portions for two or three challahs. If you plan on making a four, five or six braided challah, I recommend dividing the total dough into two portions.)
  • Shape each portion into a ball, covering with plastic wrap as you continue to shape the portions of dough.
  • Press down each ball into an oval. Fold the top third of the oval over itself towards you. Fold the top part again over the rest of the dough. Using the palms of both hands, roll the dough against the countertop to create your strands. If the dough starts pulling back, cover it with plastic wrap and allow it to rest for 10 minutes. Braid and shape as desired.
  • Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise 1 to 1½ hours.
  • Towards the end of the rising time, preheat oven to 350° F.
  • Apply egg wash. Sprinkle challah with any toppings, if using. Bake 25-30 minutes until golden brown on top and sides.

Video

Notes

  • You can substitute instant yeast for active dry. Use the same amount and mix it with all the ingredients in Step 2. Continue from there.
  • Either take your eggs out of the refrigerator an hour before you plan to make the dough or place them in a bowl of warm water for approximately ten minutes. Once you separate the eggs, store the whites in an airproof container in the refrigerator. They will be good for up to one week to use in recipes that call for egg whites or for an egg white omelet.
  • Alternatively, because it can be easier to separate eggs while they are cold, you can do so, but cover the yolks with plastic wrap while they sit on the counter to get to room temperature.
  • Do not grease the bowl you place the dough into for the 3 hour bulk rise. Non-stick spray or oil will make it more difficult to work with the dough. In the unlikely event that the dough sticks to your bowl when you go to remove it at the end of the 3 hours, use a bowl scraper, which is basically a plastic bench scraper that can bend easily as you scrape the side of your bowl. It’s a brilliant tool! I use these bowl scrapers.*
  • As I have repeatedly stated, I strongly advise weighing ingredients rather than measuring them. For more information, see my post Weighing vs. Measuring.
  • Once you shape the dough, you can refrigerate it (covered with plastic wrap) overnight. Allow to come to room temperature at least one hour before baking the next morning.
  • Once baked, store challah in plastic at room temperature. It also freezes beautifully. I like freezing an entire loaf. When I want some, I pull it out of the freezer, cut off a slice or two with a serrated knife, and return the rest to the freezer. Because the challah is rich with egg yolks, it still easy to cut when frozen.
*As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
 
 
Author: Rob Finkelstein
Calories: 159kcal
Course: Bread
Cuisine: Jewish
Keyword: easy, fluffy, pillow

Nutrition

Calories: 159kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 48mg | Sodium: 135mg | Potassium: 38mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 64IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 11mg | Iron: 1mg

6 Comments

  1. Pingback: Everything Seasoning - Cinnamon Shtick

  2. Pingback: Onion Rolls - Cinnamon Shtick

  3. Marcela Sanguancheu Reply

    5 stars
    In addition to the traditional Challah I used the other half of the dough to make cinnamon rolls.
    I really liked the result, but especially the cinnamon rolls, I made the filling with brown sugar, butter and cinnamon and the topping with cream cheese.
    The dough is great, I highly recommend it!

  4. Pingback: Blueberry Babkallah - Cinnamon Shtick

  5. Pingback: Festive Challah - Cinnamon Shtick

  6. 5 stars
    This was the best challah I’ve ever made! Incredible. I cannot wait to make it again – and will never go back to other recipes. Had heard great things about this recipe for a very long time – and it certainly did not disappoint.

Write A Comment

Recipe Rating