How to Make a 4-Strand Challah
Learn how easy it is to shape a 4-strand, round challah for Rosh Hashanah.
Yield: 1 challah
Make the Dough. My traditional Challah recipe already has honey in it, so it is super ready for Rosh Hashanah! Alternatively, you can use the full recipe of my Whole Wheat Challah or my Fluffy Sourdough Challah. Divide the Dough. After the first bulk rise of the dough (Step 5 in the Challah recipe, Step 7 in the Whole Wheat Challah and Step 2 in the Fluffy Sourdough Challah), divide it into four equal portions. Your best bet is to weigh the total amount of the dough, divide by 4, and weigh out 4 equal portions.
Roll Dough into Strands. Roll each of the 4 portions into strands, approximately 12 inches long. If the dough starts pulling back (shrinking), cover it with plastic wrap and let it rest 5-10 minutes.
Braid. Line up 2strands in front of you, so they appear vertically in front of you. Lay the remaining two strands alternately (weaving) with the vertical ones so that the centers of the strands form a weave. Start from one strand and work your way clock-wise, placing each strand over the one next to it. When you get back to where you began, go counter-clockwise. Repeat until you reach the ends of the strands. Tuck in the ends to the bottom of the challah, pinching them into place.
Second Rise. Cover and allow the 4-Strand Challah to rise as stated in the recipe you are using. Egg wash the outside of the Challah and decorate with seeds as desired. Bake as instructed.
Cool and Enjoy. Allow the challah to cool completely before slicing.
- If making my traditional challah recipe, I recommend using half the dough to make a 4-Strand Round Challah. In other words, from that recipe, you can make two 4-Strand Round Challahs or make one and one Festive Challah. If making my Whole Wheat Challah or my Fluffy Sourdough Challah, use the full recipe of each for one 4-Strand Challah.
- Using the palms of your hands, roll the dough against a clean countertop. Try to keep the ends of the log the same width as the center. (Try to avoid tapering the ends.) If the dough starts pulling back (shrinking), cover it with plastic wrap and let it rest 5-10 minutes. (You are allowing the gluten to rest. After a short rest, you should be able to roll the dough out without any pull-back.)
- Egg wash is what makes a challah brown on top and look shiny. It is best to use a pastry brush to apply the egg wash to the dough. Make sure to apply the brush everywhere dough is visible for an even, consistent application. For a light browning color, mix one egg with 1 teaspoon of water. For a darker brown look, just whisk one egg. For a dark brown look, use just an egg yolk.