I learned this recipe from my friend, Holly, who calls it Jennifer’s Challah.
The recipe doubles well. Bread keeps well in a ziplock bag on the counter for several days, and it freezes well, too.
A few notes:
- You can use at least one cup of whole wheat flour or white whole wheat flour. (Holly always does.)
- To create lukewarm water: use ¼ cup boiling water and ¾ cup cold water, which will give you perfect lukewarm water.
- To create a warm place for your bread to rise: Heat your oven for 1 minute, then shut it off. It doesn’t matter what temperature you set it to when you heat it; the key is to only allow it to heat for 1 minute. This brief blast of heat will create a cozy, draft-free spot for your bread to rise.
- A double egg wash creates a beautifully golden and shiny finish to the challah.
- Baking on two sheet pans prevents the bottom of the challah from burning.
- As for shaping, there are lots of resources on youtube. I included one video below for making the round challah, though I really need to get Holly on camera — her four-braided challah is SO pretty.
- 4 to 5 cups (510 g to 620 g) all-purpose or bread flour
- 1 package or 2¼ teaspoons (8 g) instant yeast
- 1 cup (236 g) lukewarm water (made by mixing 1/4 cup boiling water and ¾ cup cold water)
- 1 tablespoon (10 g) kosher salt
- ¼ cup honey
- ½ cup safflower oil or other neutral oil (canola, grapeseed, etc.)
- 2 eggs
- 1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water
- poppy seeds, optional
- Make the sponge: Whisk one cup (128 g) of the flour with the yeast and stir in the lukewarm water until the sponge is smooth. Cover with plastic wrap or a dish towel and let rise about 45 minutes or until puffy and bubbly.
- Directly into the bowl, add the salt, honey, oil and eggs. Stir with a spatula or spoon until well mixed, then add the remaining three cups (384 g) of flour. Stir with a spoon until dough forms a sticky mass. Add a bit more flour, and use your hands to knead briefly in the bowl; then turn dough onto lightly floured work surface and knead for a minute or two, until the dough becomes smooth. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover it with dish towel or plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm spot until doubled in bulk, one to two hours or longer depending on the temperature of your kitchen. (Note: you can make the dough to this point, punch it down, and stash it in the refrigerator overnight).
- Punch down and divide into three or four parts, depending on what shape you want to make. Roll each portion into a ball. Let rest 10-15 minutes. Roll each ball into long ropes (at least 12 inches in length for the 4-braided challah) and braid into desired shape (see notes above or check youtube). Brush with egg wash.
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Let the loaf rise on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet, about 30 minutes. Place another baking sheet underneath it — this will help insulate the bottom and keep it from burning.
- Brush one more time with egg wash and sprinkle with poppy seeds if you like. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, checking after 40 minutes. Cool completely before slicing.
- Category: Bread
- Method: Yeast-Risen
- Cuisine: Jewish
Keywords: challah, easy, bread