I love challah bread. I think its signature braid is absolutely beautiful and I enjoy the soft crumb and slight chew. It’s great for sandwiches, French toast, or just simply eating. My grandma used to go to a specific market to buy challah when I was little, and since she didn’t know the name of the bread, she would call it “egg bread” in Mandarin. So I knew it only as “egg bread” until I got older and made the connection.
I make challah a lot and I am particularly fond of the six strand braid, seen in this post. There are countless beautiful braids you can do with it though which are all a Google search away. Since I’m a fan of natural sugars and adding whole wheat to everything ever, this version is the best that I’ve found to suit my tastes. It produces HUGE loaves which is awesome.
- 3 1/2 cups (465g) bread or all purpose flour
- 2 2/3 cups (320g) whole wheat flour
- 2 1/4 tsp (16g) salt
- 1 3/4 tsp (8g) instant yeast
- 2 Tbsp + 1 tsp (55g) honey
- 1 1/4 cups (265g) warm water (~90F)
- 3 1/2 (170g) large eggs, beaten
- 1/3 (80g) oil
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten for egg wash
- Combine the flours, salt, and instant yeast into a mixing bowl or the bowl of a mixer, and use the flat (paddle) beater to blend at low (KA 2) speed, about 1 minute.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the honey, water, eggs and oil, then add to the dry ingredients. Continue blending until the dough is evenly hydrated and comes together in a shaggy mass.
- Switch to the dough hook, if using a stand mixer, and knead at low (KA 2) speed for 10-12 minutes until the dough forms a smooth, glossy ball that leaves the sides of the bowl. If kneading by hand, turn the dough onto a well-floured work surface and knead for 12-14 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.
- Form the dough into a large ball, put it into an greased bowl, cover with a damp towel or cling wrap and allow to ferment until doubled in bulk, about 60 minutes.
- Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and punch it down. Divide it into two pieces of approximately 24 ounces/680 grams and divide each of these into as many pieces as appropriate for the braid you’re using. Roll each piece into a tight ball, cover them with a damp towel and allow them to rest for 20-30 minutes to relax the gluten.
- Using your hands, roll each piece into a long sausage that is thick in the middle and tapered to a point at the ends and braid. This is what I used to do the six strand braid.
- Put the braided loaves on a piece of baking parchment, cover them with a damp towel and allow them to proof until your finger leaves a dent in the dough that doesn’t spring back.
- About 20-30 minutes before bake time, preheat your oven to 350°F/175°C with the baking surface in the middle.
- Brush each loaf lightly with beaten egg, wait one minute and then give them a second coat.
- Slide the loaves and parchment onto your baking stone or bake on a sheet pan for 30-40 minutes, turning the loaves halfway through so they’ll brown evenly.
- Transfer the finished loaves to a rack and let cool for at least an hour before cutting.
Adapted from The Fresh Loaf.