A classic Jewish Challah bread with Its characteristic braids makes it one of the most beautiful breads, but it’s also one of the tastiest. Slightly sweet, this light and feathery Challah bread will go well with any meal, whether sweet or salty.
There are various ways to braid this delicious loaf so feel free to experiment.
- ⅓ Cup Sugar
- ¾ Cup Warm water Not hot as it will kill the yeast
- 2 tsp Instant dry yeast
- 1 Large Egg
- 3 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
- 3½ Cups Flour
- 2 tsp Salt
- 1 Egg
- 1 tsp Milk
- Sesame, poppy or other seeds Optional
- Pour the sugar and warm water in into a bowl, giving it a quick stir to help the sugar dissolve, the sprinkle over the yeast and let it sit for 5 – 10 minutes
- Add the egg and oil then sieve in the flour and salt. Mix until well combined
- Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface, and knead until elastic, flexible and smooth, but not too soft. Shape the dough into a ball, place in a lightly floured bowl, and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Set aside in a warm, draft free spot to rise for 40 minutes to an hour
- Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and shape into a round disk
- Divide the dough into 8 even pieces. The easiest way is to halve, then quarter, then halve all four sections
- Each piece should be the same size and weight, so keep a scale handy. This might seem like overkill but it will pay off when braiding
- Roll each piece into a rope, ensuring that they are all an even length. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lay the ropes of dough on top
- For the braiding, start by grouping the ropes in pairs. Lay two sets of two parallel vertically. Then two sets of two parallel horizontally. We will name the two vertical sets 1 and 2, and the two horizontal sets 3 and 4. Place 1 under 3 and over 4, then place 2 over 3 and under 4.
- The trick with braiding bread is to understand the pattern. Once you have it down, braiding bread is super easy!
- Now work clockwise starting at the top. Place 1 over 2 then 3 over 4, then 2 over 1 and 4 over 3
- Work clockwise again with 1 under 4, 3 under 1, then 2 under 3 and 4 under 2
- Finally, pinch the ends of each set of two together and tuck them under the loaf
- Cover loosely with a clean kitchen towel and set aside to let rise for 30 to 40 minutes, while you preheat the oven (the Challah should rise a little but keep its shape)
- Preheat the oven to 180°C
- In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and milk
- Just before baking, brush the top of the Challah with the egg wash, then sprinkle with seeds if you wish. (I did not on this occasion)
- Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the Challah is golden on top (always check the bottom to see that it is dry and baked)