Today is the last day of Hanukkah, but Challah season is just starting for me. I kicked off the holidays with a Basic Challah Bread recipe.
I make this one every year and I know it’s going to turn out perfectly.
Challah is the best bread. Period.
Also, there is NO REASON to slice your challah bread unless you are making french toast (and you should be making french toast with challah).
Challah deserves to be pulled apart so those flaky layers really shine.
I mean look at them.
Challah is a great addition to any meal, but especially good with those extra saucy dishes that require a hefty bread to soak up any flavor left on the plate.
But also, I’ve been known to sit and pick at a loaf until it’s nearly gone – no spreads, soups or dips to accompany it.
That’s how good this bread is.
Basic Challah Bread
(Start making 4.5 hours before you want Basic Challah Bread)
½ cup lukewarm water
6 Tbsp vegetable oil
¼ cup honey
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp salt
1 Tbsp instant yeast (NOT active dry!)
1 egg (for the glaze)
*See original recipe on King Arthur Flour as well as measurements in Grams and Ounces
Mix all the wet ingredients and eggs together in a small bowl. Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Dump the wet into the dry and mix together well. You can use a mixer to knead these all together but I use my hands. Mostly because I haven’t figured out a good way to store my kitchenaid and it’s a real pain in the-you-know to pull it out every time I want to use it!
You’ll knead the bread mixture until the dough is smooth and soft, about 5 minutes.
Place the dough in a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap for 2 hours. Doesn’t need to be a warm place but shouldn’t be cold. The dough will not double in size but you’ll know it’s ready when it looks a little puffy.
Gently deflate the dough and lightly grease a work surface. You’ll braid your dough – if you’ve ever had long hair you know what to do. If not, click here for a basic braid how-to, or click here if you wanna get fancy with 6 strands. You’ll want each strand to be about 20 inches long.
Let the braided bread rest on a parchment covered sheet pan for about 90 minutes. You’ll cover the braid with a lightly greased sheet of plastic wrap. It will rise and get puffy in the braided shape.
In the meantime, get your oven to 375F and decide on your toppings. Once fully risen after 90 minutes, you’ll brush your loaf with beaten egg (note: you can add a little water to your beaten egg if you need help getting this loose enough). At this point add anything you want to the top: poppy seeds, sesame seeds, everything bagel salt, dried onion, flaky salt…. Possibilities are endless. Also, you could just leave this plain!
You’ll get the challah in the oven for about 20 minutes. Keep an eye on it, when it’s the color you like (golden brown) you’ll tent a piece of aluminum foil over the bread to keep it from browning further while you cook it for another 10-15 minutes.
I’d say let it rest for a few minutes after you pull it out of the oven, but the burns on my hands give me away. Challah is best the day you make it, but it will keep in plastic wrap for a few days on the counter.