Sunday, April 28, 2013

Recipe: Challah

Based on a recipe December 2006 recipe from Cook's Illustrated.  Prepared on April 21, 2013. 

Challah is an enriched Jewish bread, similar to brioche, and traditionally braided. There are many different ways to braid the dough, here a large 3-braid serves as the base for a smaller 3-braid.


15 ounces (3 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour plus up to ½ cup
¼ cup sugar
2¼ teaspoons instant yeast (or 1 envelope)
1¼ teaspoons table salt
3 large eggs
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon warm water (approximately 110°)
1 teaspoon poppy seeds or sesame seeds (optional)


  1. Melt the butter.
  2. Separate one of the eggs. 
  3. In a small bowl mix egg white with 1 tablespoon water, cover, and refrigerate.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together 15 ounces flour, sugar, yeast, and salt.
  5. In a standing mixer, mix together 2 eggs, egg yolk, melted butter, and ½ cup warm water.
  6. Add the flour mixture and knead at low speed until a dough ball forms, about 5 minutes. Add up to ¼ cup additional flour, a little at a time as needed, so the dough doesn't stick.
  7. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turn to oil the dough on all sides, cover, and let rise until doubled, 1½ to 2 hours.
  8. Gently press the dough to deflate it, cover, and let rise until doubled again, 40 to 60 minutes.
  9. Follow these on-line instructions to braid the dough and form a loaf. 
  10. Cover the loaf with plastic wrap and let it rise until it becomes puffy, 30 to 45 minutes.
  11. With a rack in the lower middle position, heat oven to 375°.
  12. Brush the loaf with the egg wash and, if using, sprinkle the loaf with sesame or poppy seeds.
  13. Bake until golden brown and the internal temperature is 190°.
  14. Cool on wire rack before serving. 
Make an egg wash with one egg white and some water.

Mix flour, sugar, yeast, and salt.

In standing mixer, mix melted butter, two eggs plus a yolk, and warm water.
Add flour mixture and knead until a ball forms.
Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl and rise until doubled in volume.

Gently deflate the risen dough and let rise until doubled again.
Divide the dough into two pieces, one twice as large as the other.
For a three-braid loaf from each piece of dough.

Apply the egg wash to the larger loaf, place the smaller loaf on top, apply the egg wash and sprinkle with seeds.
Bake at 375° until golden brown with an internal temperature of 190°.

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