Challah

I have been baking Challah for many years. I have tried many recipes, kneaded by hand, used a kitchen aid, used a bread machine, etc. I have tried sweet recipes, more savory recipes, water Challah, fillings, toppings, etc. After years of baking Challah, I have come on to what I think is the best recipe. It is a simple recipe and allows for almost any addition. Every year I get asked for my recipe and I do give it out freely. This year I have had more requests than usual, so I decided to post the recipe and let anyone get it. One note before the recipe itself. This recipe is based on the recipe for “Bread Machine Challah” in the book “A treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking” by Marci Goldman. This is my go to book for any Jewish baking. Every recipe I have used from her book comes out perfect. I highly recommend the book.

One more note. I make this dough in a bread machine. You could easily make it in a mixer or by hand, but it is so easy to do it in the machine and it allows me to work on other things while it is being prepared. In my instructions I will reference the machine, but if you want to do it any other way, you can just adapt it. One totally final note (I promise). I weigh all of my ingredients. I cannot stress the importance of this enough. In baking everything should be precise and weighing takes out all the guess work. 100 g of flour is 100 g of flour.

515 g bread flour (I only use King Arthur flour or Trader Joe’s)
285 g white whole wheat flour
10 g kosher salt
15 g instant yeast
2 extra large eggs plus one egg yolk
70 g extra virgin olive oil
75 g honey
80 g sugar
328 g of warm water

  1. Weigh the flours and put in a bowl with the salt and yeast. Lightly mix and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl or measuring cup, beat the eggs and add the oil and mix well.
  3. Add the honey and sugar, mixing in after each ingredient.
  4. Weigh the water directly in the bread pan of the machine.
  5. Using a nylon spatula, get all of the egg/oil mixture into the water.
  6. Put the flour mixture on top of the liquids in the bread pan.
  7. Put the pan in the machine and turn on the dough cycle.
  8. When the dough is done, transfer to a board and then weigh the mass of dough.
  9. Separate out however many pieces you need. For example, I make four small Challot from this recipe for Shabbat. I will do a braid of three for each, so I will separate out 12 pieces, weighing them all so they are equal.
  10. Roll out the pieces into strands and then braid or shape as you like.

I make four small, three medium or two large Challot from this recipe. For my raisin Challot, I do the following before shaping. First I soak the raisins in hot water to plump. Using a rolling pin, roll out the piece of dough into a rectangle. For a third of this recipe, the shape should be about 8″ x 6″. Sprinkle raisins on the dough and lightly press into the dough so they stay put. Then roll up the dough on the long end. Once the dough is rolled up, lightly crimp the seam to keep to together. Then continue to lightly roll the strand to make it a little longer. Taper the ends. Then roll up to make a traditional round challah. If you roll it up tight, it will rise up like a hat, and if you roll it up loose, it will be more flat. I like to do it somewhat in the middle.

For the holiday season, I like to do different rounds. I used to do this round braid

But lately I have been having issues with this. If you braid it too tight it will ball up. So I came up with this easy method. Take two even strands and pinch then together at one end. Twist up the two strands. Then pinch together the other ends and then taper the ends. You can now twist as tight as you like. I keep them fairly loose. Now take the twist and make a traditional round.

The one on the upper left is twisted very tight and the one on the lower right is twisted looser

However you shape, have fun and enjoy!

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