How to Make the Best Challah at Home – Jewish Challah Recipe
As a kid I remember making challah in my grandma’s kitchen. Before last week, I think that was the last time I actually made challah from scratch. It always seemed intimidating. I have tasted some really good challah and some not so good challah over my 30+ years. I decided to attempt to make challah at home, and wow! After reading some different recipes and doing some of my own things, I created the best challah recipe that would make your bubbee proud.
The important thing to remember about challah making is to take your time. Do not rush it. This Jewish sweet bread requires 2 different rising periods.
Here is the Best Challah Recipe to Make Bubbe Proud
Ingredients for homemade challah:
2 cups + 1 teaspoon water
about 1 1/2 cups of sugar (depends on how sweet you want it)
1 tablespoon dry yeast
about 8 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup + 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
2 teaspoons salt
Yeast Mix – in a medium size bowl dissolve 1 tablespoon of dry yeast into 2 cups of warm water and 1/3 cup of sugar. Mix and let it sit until it gets a little frothy on top. This takes about 5 minutes. Then, mix in 3 cups of all-purpose flour.
Large Bowl – In a large mixing bowl combine 1/2 cup – 1 cup sugar (depending on how sweet you like it) with 2 teaspoons of salt, 1/2 cup vegetable oil, and 4 eggs. Beat until well mixed.
Add the yeast mix to the large bowl and stir until well mixed up.
Next, slowly mix in a little bit of flour to your mixture. Start by adding about a cup of flour at a time. You want the dough to be just a little sticky. I ended up adding about 5 cups of flour to my mixture.
Then, transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes. Place the dough in a oiled bowl and flip it around a few times to make sure some of the oil gets on the outside of the dough. Cover the bowl with a clean towel or plastic wrap and let the dough rise for about an hour until it doubles in size.
After the challah dough has risen
After that, punch down dough. If you like raisins in your challah then you can add some at this point. Knead dough for another 5 minutes. Break it into 3 equal parts. These 3 parts will be your 3 challah. If you only want to bake one loaf, you can freeze the other 2 dough balls at this point. For each loaf you are making separate the dough into 3 equal pieces. On a floured surface roll the 3 small pieces into long worm-like pieces. Pinch the 3 top ends together, braid, and pinch the 3 bottom ends together. Place the loaf on a greased baking sheet or baking sheet with parchment paper and let rise another hour. Again, it should double in size. If you want to make fancy looking braided challah, then you can read The Shiksa in the Kitchen Challah Part 2: How to Braid Challah.
Glaze topping – In a small bowl whisk 1 egg, 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil, 1 teaspoon of water, and 1 – 2 teaspoons of sugar (depending how sweet you like it). This is enough glaze for all 3 loafs. For each loaf, use about 1/4 of the glaze. Lightly brush the glaze on top of the braided dough. Make sure a little bit of glaze remains in the bowl. You’ll need it for later. If using seeds sprinkle them on now.
Bake at 350 for 18 minutes. Remove the challah and brush on another light coat of glaze. Return the bread to the oven and bake for another 5 – 10 minutes. The top of the challah should be lightly brown and shiny.
Notes on Homemade Challah
* Note – I like my challah sweet and not too salty, so when I make this recipe I use the higher amount of sugar and the lower amount of salt. If you like your bread soft and not crusty, you may want to bake it for a little less time. Individual ovens may vary.