I have made this challah recipe over and over again, and every time, I fall in love with it even more! It is incredibly simple, the dough can be made in 5 minutes and stay in the fridge for several days.
Challah is a traditional leavened Jewish bread usually eaten during Shabbat and other special holidays (it obviously can’t be eaten during Passover as it is leavened, check my easy homemade matzo recipe for a Passover friendly bread).
It tastes very similar to a brioche, rich and a little sweet. The main difference is that challah includes no dairy (while a traditional French brioche is obviously very rich in butter!).
I found this recipe in the cookbook, Heartland: The Cookbook (which is one of my favorite cookbooks and has become a go-to in my kitchen), and it is so versatile and easy to make. The beauty of this recipe is that it does not require any kneading, and the dough can keep for 3 days in the refrigerator. I can make the dough in about 5 minutes, let it rise for a few hours.
- 6 1/2 cups bread flour
- 2 Tablespoons instant or bread machine yeast
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 cup clover honey (any light colored honey will work)
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 2 eggs
- warm water (100°)
In a very large bowl, combine the bread flour, yeast, and salt.
In a 4-cup measuring cup, add the honey, oil, and eggs.
Add enough warm water to reach the 4-cup mark.
Stir everything together.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ones.
Stir the mixture to combine, and then beat for 40 strokes, scraping the bottom of the bowl.
The dough will be lumpy and very sticky.
Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place for 2 hours. The dough will look spongy. At this point, you can make rolls, cinnamon rolls, whatever you want, but we are going to make challah breads.
Cut the dough in half. You have enough for two loaves. You can save the other half in the fridge for something else if you want. Pour the dough out on to a floured surface. Roll the dough out into a large rectangle.
Fold the dough in half, turn a quarter turn, and roll again. Repeat this 3 times.
Form the dough into a cylinder, and cut it into 3 pieces. Roll each piece into a 16-inch long rope. You want to work with this dough as little as possible, so it does not have to be perfect.
Take the 3 ropes and braid them together. Pinch the dough and fold it under at the top and bottom. Put the loaves on a parchment lined baking sheet and cover in a towel. Let rest for 40 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Make an egg wash (1 egg and 1 Tablespoon water whisked together) and brush it all over the loaves. You can sprinkle sesame or poppy seeds on it if you like.
Bake for about 40 minutes. The internal temperature should be at least 190 degrees. Cool on a cooling rack.
Tips & Tricks //
Can you use the challah dough to bake other pastries? I have made many incredible baked goods with this dough. I have used this dough to make cinnamon rolls, sticky buns, Blueberry-Cream Cheese Strudel, and rolls. It always works perfectly, and the taste is incredible. It is a sweet dough, but not as rich as brioche, and has a very nice crumb.
What to do with challah leftovers? When I have challah leftovers in the kitchen after a couple of days (trust me it doesn’t happen often!), I make a crazy delicious french toast.
How can you customize your challah? You can add fillings like chocolate chips or sweet raisins and cinnamon powder to give your challah a festive twist.