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Home Baker’s Sweet Challah Bread

Light and sweet, Challah has a tender, velvety texture. The braiding of the bread is extremely traditional. It symbolizes separating or "letting go" and connecting one with the family and God. We'll show you the step-by-step process of how to braid the loaf. It doesn't matter if your loaf looks perfect. What matters is that you share it with your most treasured people.
home-bakers-Challah

 

A Rich Tradition

Challah bread goes by so many names. Hallah, khala, khale,chałka, kitke, berkhes…the list goes on. This traditional Jewish egg-bread is usually eaten at special dinners and used as part of the Friday night advent of the sabbath as prayers are offered. Every parent can relate to the scene from “Fiddler on the Roof” during the Sabbath Prayer as a loving father and mother sing their prayer for their children as they gather around the dinner table. It speaks volumes of all the hopes parents have for those they love to make healthy and brave choices. We join that sentiment. Oh, the feelings of joy and hope that breaking bread with your family can bring! It is in that spirit of love that we share this bread today.

In this Recipe

In our test kitchen, we prefer mixing this bread with an electric mixer. The dough is rather sticky and moist. If you knead it by hand, allow it to rest for about 15 minutes after kneading the initial dough 3-4 minutes. This will allow the flour to absorb the dough’s moisture and make it easier to knead by hand. Be careful not to get the water too warm, as it will kill the yeast. Because this is a sweet, rich dough, the yeast will take longer than usual to raise, so we gave it a little extra yeast. We recommend the stronger “instant” yeast for this one.

Sweet Challah Egg Bread

Yield 2 large loaf

7 cups (35 oz.) Panhandle Milling Organic Bread Flour
1 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. instant yeast
2 tsp salt
6 eggs
1 1/2 cup water
1 1/2 cup melted butter
1 egg white (for egg wash)
1 Tbsp. poppy seeds or sesame seeds

Directions:

  • In an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the sugar, yeast, eggs, water, and melted butter—mix 30 seconds on low speed. Turn off the mixer and add the flour and salt. Knead 5-7 minutes on medium speed.
  • Transfer dough to very lightly oiled large bowl, turning dough over to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Gently press dough to deflate, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled in size again, 40 to 60 minutes.
  • Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface. Divide dough into 2 pieces, one roughly half the size of the other. (Small amount will weigh about 9 ounces, a larger piece about 18 ounces.)
  • Divide large piece into three equal pieces. Roll each piece into a 15-inch-long rope, about 1 inch in diameter.
  • Line up ropes of dough side by side and pinch ends together.
  • Take dough rope on the bottom and lay it over the center rope.
  • Take dough rope on top and lay it over the center rope. Repeat until ropes of dough are braided, then pinch ends together.
  • Place braid on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  • Divide smaller piece of dough into three equal pieces. Roll each piece into a 15-inch-long rope, about 1/2 inch in diameter. Braid together, pinching ends.
  • Brush some of the egg wash on top of the large loaf and place a small braid on top of the larger braid, right in the loaf center.
  • Mist with water and place in an unheated oven until doubled in size, about 45 minutes to an hour.
  • Remove the loaf from the unheated oven. Make sure the oven rack is in the lower-middle position. Preheat oven to 375°F. Brush the loaf with the egg wash and sprinkle with poppy seeds or sesame seeds if desired.
  • Bake until golden brown, about 40 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the loaf registers 190°F.