L'shana tova! This is best challah recipe to help you celebrate the new year. It's wonderfully fluffy and has a perfect golden exterior. Using a KitchenAid mixer makes the process a breeze, ensuring your dough is perfectly kneaded and ready to shine, but feel free to hand-knead if you don't have one.
In this post you will learn how to make challah bread with easy, step-by-step photo instructions. With this recipe, you can make a classic round challah or 4-strand braided challah.
🌟 Why You'll Love This Recipe
🧾 Ingredients in This Recipe
See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.
✅ Tips for the Best Challah Bread Every Time
- Always test your yeast - you must test your yeast to ensure it's active. I always buy plenty of extra yeast as some packets can often be duds. Keep spare yeast in the refrigerator to prolong the shelf life.
- Knead the dough well - Don't skimp on the kneading! This is key to getting the right texture and a smooth challah dough.
- Let the challah rest after baking - rest for 30 minutes minimum. This is the hardest part because we all want to start tearing into it, but it is well worth it!
- Bake until internal temp reads 190F - This is the most accurate indicator of the bread being cooked properly. Click here to shop for my favorite thermometer.
- For slicing, cook the challah in a springform pan - if you plan on using your challah to make French toast or slice it for other recipes the next day, the springform pan yields a better shape.
👩🍳 How to Make Challah Dough
If your bowl has a lid, you can seal it. If not, cover the bowl with a kitchen towel, and seal the bowl (and kitchen towel) in a garbage bag to trap in the air.
🟤 How to Braid a Round Challah
Divide the dough into 4 equal 16-inch long ropes with the ends tapered. Tapering the ends helps minimize the bulk at the end when you tuck them under the challah.
🥖 How to Braid a 4-Strand Challah
Divide the dough into 4 equal 16-inch long ropes with the ends tapered. There are two main kinds of 4-strand braids. One is more of a chain link, and the other is a flat braid. You can use either version.
Start by anchoring the top by pinching them together. Number the ropes from left to right, 1-4.
The pattern is as follows:
- Strand 3 over strand 2.
- New strand 3 over strand 4.
- Strand 3 over strand 2.
- Strand 1 over strand 2.
Keep repeating this pattern down the braid.
🔥⏲ How to Finish Proving & Bake Your Challah
Heat oven to 350°F with the rack in the middle.
LET IT REST! 30 minutes minimum. This is the hardest part but it is well worth it.
If you make this recipe and the yeast has not been properly activated, it will never get that stretchy texture. Instead, it will be more solid and hard to roll.
Unlike regular white bread, Challah is an enriched dough with eggs and oil, more similar to a brioche.
Challah that doesn't rise is usually due to either incorrect proofing times (too short or too long), or yeast that wasn't properly activated.
This can happen to the dough if the oven temperature is set too high.
I was taught that challah is round on Rosh Hashanah to symbolize the year going round. For the new year, we eat challah with honey instead of salt to bring in a sweet, new year.
Challah has a rich and full flavor with a delicate sweetness to it. Think of it like the slightly sweet bite you get from brioche bread or even Hawaiian rolls.
🍞 Related Recipes
Celebrate every Jewish holiday this year in a delicious way with these fantastic Jewish recipes.
The Best Challah Bread
- 2 egg yolks room temperature
- 2 eggs room temperature, one is for the egg wash
- ½ cup water lukewarm, less 1 tbsp
- 2 tablespoon vegetable oil plus more for greasing
- 370 g all-purpose flour 2 ¾ cups + 2 tablespoons
- 7 g active dry yeast 2 ¼ teaspoons
- ¼ cup sugar granulated or cane
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon honey optional
- 2 tablespoon sesame seeds / poppy seeds optional
- Add 1 egg, 2 yolks, the lukewarm water, and 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil to a stand mixer with a whisk attachment and mix until combined.
- Switch to the dough hook. Add in the flour and instant yeast. Run on low for 3-4 minutes. Rest for 20 minutes while the flour hydrates.
- Add in ¼ cup granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon of salt. Run on medium speed for 9 minutes.
- Quickly hand knead to make sure it doesn't stick to the counter. If it does, add a little more flour. Lightly oil the bowl and the dough, cover, and rise for 1.5 hours until just about doubles in size. If your bowl has a lid, you can seal it. If not, cover the bowl with a kitchen towel, and seal the bowl (and kitchen towel) in a garbage bag to trap in the air.
- Punch down the dough, divide, and braid. Divide the dough into 4 equal 16-inch long ropes with the ends tapered. See photos for braiding instructions.
- Stack two baking sheets** and top with a layer of parchment or a silicone baking mat. Cover with cling wrap and prove for 3 hours. It will double in size.
- Heat oven to 350F with the rack in the middle.
- Mix the remaining egg with the (optional) honey* in a bowl. Brush over the challah. Sprinkle with the sesame/poppy seeds.
- Bake 35-40 minutes until the internal temperature reads 190F.
- LET IT REST! 30 minutes minimum. This is the hardest part but it is well worth it.