Homemade Braided Challah Bread

I’ve been trying to expand my baking repertoire beyond variations on my almost no-knead bread. Since I love the taste of popovers, I thought I’d make an eggy bread that’s somewhere between popovers and French bread. So I made some Challah, a Jewish bread.

I followed the recipe from Saveur Magazine. Here’s everything you need:

Homemade Braided Challah Bread

  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk, heated to 115°
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (plus more for greasing)
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon water

Get a big bowl and a little bowl. In the big bowl, stir together the milk, 1 teaspoon of the sugar, and all of the yeast. Let it sit until the yeast activates and gets foamy, maybe ten minutes. While the yeast is waking up, whisk together the room temperature butter with the two eggs.

When the yeast mixture looks kind of like a cappuccino, add the butter/egg mixture to the big bowl and stir to combine. Add the flour, remaining sugar and salt, and stir with a wooden spoon until a dough forms.

It’s a dry dough, so it won’t come together immediately. Still, if you can’t get most of the dough to come together into a ball, you should add a few tablespoons of water to the bowl and keep mixing. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth, maybe 6–8 minutes. Wash and grease the big bowl with butter. Toss in the dough ball and cover with plastic wrap. Let it sit until doubled in size, about an hour. Uncover, punch dough down and re-cover. Let it sit for another thirty minutes until slightly puffed.

Drop the dough ball back onto your floured work surface and cut into three or four equal-sized pieces. Roll them into ropes of equal length. I drafted the wife to braid them. Apparently it’s easy to braid three ropes, but we had to watch this tutorial on how to braid four. Make sure you pinch the ends and let the braided dough puff up for another hour on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Heat oven to 375°. Stir together the egg yolk and 1 tbsp. water in a small bowl and brush all over the surface of the loaf.

The recipe calls for you to sprinkle evenly with sesame seeds, but I thought I’d bake it plain first. Bake until loaf is dark golden brown, about 30–35 minutes. Transfer the bread to a wire rack and let cool for 30 minutes before serving. It’s a pretty impressive loaf that tears easily at the braids.

This is what the inside looks like.

My bread came out a little dry. I’ll make a wetter dough next time.

Homemade Braided Challah Bread
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