Challah

Challah is a delicious, rich bread traditional in Jewish culture and ritual. For the purpose of this recipe, I’m making mini loaves but this recipe can also be used to make a single, large loaf or two medium sized loaves. Here, I’m creating four mini loaves, slightly larger than challah rolls. But, I’m still going to teach you the six strand braid. I know, what am I thinking doing six strand braids on mini loaves? But to me, it’s worth the little bit of extra effort to divide the dough.

Six strand braiding is far less complicated than it sounds. The key is “over two, under one, over two”. Most of the tutorials I’ve found tell you to pinch together the dough strands at one end but this causes an ugly blob at one end of the bread and can cause it to bake unevenly. The trick is to start your braid near the middle of the strands and then braid back to the other end. Let’s walk through it and the photos will make it easier to follow.

Let’s start with our raised dough

Divide the dough in half

Then divide the first half into thirds

Roll each piece into a long rope

Cut the ropes in half and roll them to six equal lengths

Now let’s braid

Start with the rope farthest to the right. Over two, under one, over two. Remember to start near the middle of the ropes.

Now finish the other end

Finally, roll the ends under

Allow to proof a second time, brush with egg wash, and bake


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Challah

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup Warm water 110-115 degrees
  • 2 tsp Active Dry Yeast not instant
  • 4 to 4 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1/4 cup Sugar
  • 2 tsp Salt
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 Egg Yolk
  • 1/4 cup Neutral-flavored vegetable oil

Instructions
 

  • Sprinkle the yeast into the warm water along with a big pinch of sugar and stir to combine. Allow to sit for about five minutes, until a layer of foam forms and the yeast becomes fragrant.
  • In a large bowl, add four cups of flour, the remaining sugar, and salt. Whisk to combine.
  • Add two of the whole eggs, the egg yolk, and the oil. Whisk to form a slurry, slowly combining in some of the flour.
  • Add the yeast mixture and continue to work in the flour until a shaggy dough forms.
  • Knead the dough for six to eight minutes, if using a stand mixer with a dough hook, on low speed. If kneading by hand, work the dough approximately ten minutes. The dough should be soft, smooth and hold a ball shape when finished kneading. It should be tacky to the touch but if it is too sticky, gradually add additional flour during the kneading process.
  • Add a thin coat of oil to a large bowl, turn the dough in the oil to coat. Allow the dough to rise in a warm place, covered with a dry towel, until doubled in size, about an hour and a half to two hours.
  • Divide the dough into ropes. For mini challah loaves, you’ll need to divide the dough into four large pieces and then divide each into three to six strands. For two loaves, divide the dough in half and then each half into three to six strands. For a large, single loaf, divide the dough into three to six strands. Braid the strands (see the six strand braiding instructions above).
  • Place the braided challah on a lined baking sheet, cover with a clean kitchen towel and allow to rise until pillowy, about an hour.
  • Beat the remaining egg and brush the top of the challah. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Bake the challah about 30 minutes until deep brown and registering 190 degrees in the middle with an instant read thermometer.
  • Allow the challah to cool on a wire rack until ready to serve.
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