Challah Bread Recipe
Enjoy this Challah bread recipe and how to make Challah bread video (coming soon) for a real treat! Challah Bread is an eggy, slightly sweet bread that is fun to make as it is traditionally braided. Use your Challah bread to make incredible sandwiches, french toast and more!
The first step to making Challah bread is to proof your active dry yeast with 1 Tbsp warm water (110 degrees F/43 degrees C) and 1 tsp all-purpose flour. Allow the yeast to proof for ten minutes, then start the Challah bread by combining a 1 cup portion of your flour with sugar, warmed milk, eggs that have been warmed in the shell (set them into a bowl of hot tap water for 5 minutes), egg yolks at room temperature, and the proofed yeast. Whisk the ingredients to combine them and then cover with plastic wrap and allow the yeast mixture to ferment for an hour at room temperature.
When the hour fermenting time has passed, combine the remaining four cups of flour with the salt and then pour the fermented yeast and egg mixture over the top of the flour and salt dry mixture. Mix for roughly two minutes or until all ingredients are moistened, then cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 20 minutes.
After the dough has rested for 20 minutes, (if using a stand mixer) knead the dough using the dough hook attachment on medium speed for 3 minutes, rest for 5 minutes, then return to kneading another 4-5 minutes. The dough should slap against the sides of the bowl (use a higher speed setting if needed to achieve this) and pass the ‘windowpane’ test when stretched. (if kneading by hand) Turn the dough out onto your floured work surface and knead for about 10 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and allow to rise at room temperature for about two hours, or until the dough has doubled in size.
Next, punch down the dough by spreading your hand in a somewhat claw-like position and pressing your fingertips into the dough. How far you press down into the dough will depend on how many air pockets you desire in your bread. In our case we want relatively few air pockets, so press down until the dough is ‘deflated’ halfway. Divide the dough into three portions and round each portion, then roll and stretch each portion out into ropes about 24 inches long. I tend to stretch mine more than roll and you will want to let the dough rest between rolling or stretching. When I get a little bit more length on each portion, I then rest the dough ropes for ten minutes before returning to stretch it out some more. Repeat this process until each section is the appropriate length.
Butter your baking sheet that is at least 13 x 18 inches, such as a half sheet – sheet cake pan. I use parchment paper that I butter and place it on my baking sheet before transferring my ropes to the baking pan. Your ropes will extend beyond the edges of your baking sheet, prior to being braided. When braiding, line up your three ropes of dough next to each other in the center of the baking sheet. Starting at the middle, braid out toward one end by first moving your left rope off to the side (making a V away from the center rope at the midpoint) then crossing the right rope over the center, the left rope over the re-positioned right rope, and the middle rope over the re-positioned left rope. Continue this braiding until you reach the ends and press them in on each other while rolling them under to tuck them in on the pan. Repeat on the opposite end. Cover with oiled plastic wrap or a damp towel and allow to rise at room temperature again for one to two hours, or until doubled in size.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F (204 degrees C) and place a sheet pan that is about 1/4 filled with water on the lower cooking rack. Brush your Challah bread loaf with the egg wash made from one of the reserved egg whites, a full egg and a pinch of salt. Place the baking sheet with the loaf over the rack containing the pan with water and close the door. Spritz the loaf with water from a spray bottle 3 times in 30 second intervals after initially closing the door when you placed the loaf in the oven to bake. Then reduce the cooking temperature to 375 degrees (190 degrees C) and bake for about 45 minutes. The loaf will be a deep brown color and the internal temperature will be 185 degrees (85 degrees C) when done.
If your Challah bread is turning too brown but the internal temperature has already reached 185 degrees F (85 degrees C), cover the loaf with aluminum foil and reduce the oven temperature to 325-350 degrees. This is not usually an issue when your oven cooks at the correct temperature. Remove the baked Challah bread loaf to a cooling rack when done.
*If you are unsure if your oven cooks spot on, too high, or too low, purchase an oven thermometer to help you make any necessary temperature corrections.
Challah Bread Recipe
- 1 Tbsp water (warm water at 100 degrees F/43 degrees C)
- 1 tsp active dry yeast (proofed)
- 5 c all-purpose flour (plus 1 tsp for proofing the yeast and 1/2 c for dusting your work surface)
- 1/4 c sugar
- 1/2 c milk (slightly warmed)
- 5 large eggs (warmed in the shell)
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 tsp salt
- butter (softened at room temperature for coating the pan)
- egg wash (reserve 1 egg white, add 1 whole egg & a pinch of salt)
- Proof the yeast with warm water and flour for 10 minutes. In a small bowl combine 1 c of the flour, sugar, milk, eggs, egg yolks and proofed yeast. Whisk lightly to combine then cover with plastic wrap and allow to ferment for 1 hour.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the remaining 4 cups of flour and the salt. Pour the yeast and egg mixture over the flour and slat mixture. Combine just until moist, about two minutes. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and allow to rest for 20 minutes.
- Using a stand mixer: knead the dough with the dough hook on medium speed for 3 minutes, allow the dough to rest for 5 minutes, then knead again for 4-5 minutes more or until the dough slaps against the sides of the bowl (use a higher speed if necessary). By hand: knead the dough for 10 minutes. Either way, the dough should pass the windowpane test.
- Cover again with plastic wrap or a damp towel and allow to rise at room temperature for about two hours, or until doubled in size. Punch down the dough and divide into three portions.
- Round the three dough portions then begin to roll and stretch them out into 24 inch long ropes. Do this in stages by stretching and/or rolling out a bit more length, then allowing the dough to rest, covered, for 10 minutes before rolling and stretching again.
- Butter your 13 x 18 baking sheet (or line it with parchment paper, and butter the paper). Place the three ropes onto the baking sheet with one going down the very center, and one of the other three on each side so that all three ropes are laying down the center of the baking sheet next to each other. (they will extend beyond the baking sheet prior to braiding)
- Braid the ropes, starting at the center and working toward each end of the baking sheet. Tuck each completed end in by pressing the ends together and tucking them downward and under the loaf. Cover the loaf with oiled plastic wrap or a damp cloth and allow to rise between 1-2 hours, or until doubled in size.
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F (204 degrees C) and coat the Challah bread loaf with the egg wash. Place the baking sheet with the loaf on it into the oven on the center rack, with another baking pan or sheet on the bottom rack filled 1/4 full with water.
- After placing the loaf in the oven, and closing the oven door, have a spray bottle ready to spritz the loaf with water at 30 second intervals 3 times. After moistening the loaf with the water, reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) and bake for 45 minutes or until the internal temperature is 185 degrees (85 degrees C). Remove to a wire rack to cool.
Angela is an at home chef that developed a passion for all things cooking and baking at a young age in her Grandma’s kitchen. After many years in the food service industry, she now enjoys sharing all of her family favorite recipes and creating tasty dinner and amazing dessert recipes here at Bake It With Love!