31 While 31–Challah

Are you wondering why I didn’t title this post “challah bread”?  No?  Well, let me tell you anyway because I learned this fun fact while doing my research for this recipe.  Challah translates directly to “bread”.  If I’d titled this “challah bread” it would be like saying, “Here, readers, is a recipe for bread bread.”  See the issue?  **end word nerd scene**

I have always loved challah for its rich, eggy flavor, golden color, and gorgeous sheen.  I can now say I love it for how simple it is to make and how beautiful it looks.  The braided loaf is one of those distinctive items I couldn’t help but feel pride in recreating.  All throughout the process, I kept thinking things were going too well.  (Have I mentioned I can sometimes be a type A worrywart?)  I had visions of putting a beautifully plaited loaf into the oven only to find it had come unbraided as it rose and baked.  I bet I checked on it three or four times.  When the timer went off, I was so relieved to see an in-tact, shiny braid of challah waiting for me to dive into.

Fresh from the oven, it tasted every bit as good as the challah from my favorite bakery.  When it cooled, it was equally delicious.  The bonus?  Challah french toast the next morning.  Sooo good.

challah bread


combination of recipes from Beantown Baker and Williams-Sonoma Baking Book


1 c. warm water (105-115 degrees F)

1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp.)
2 tsp. plus 1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. vegetable oil, plus more for greasing the bowl

3 eggs

2 tsp. Kosher salt
4 to 4 1/4 c. all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1/2 c. raisins (optional)


1.  Pour water into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Sprinkle yeast and two tsp. sugar over the water.  Wait one minute for it to begin dissolving.

2.  Add oil into yeast and quickly mix to combine.  Beat in two eggs, one at a time, with remaining sugar and salt.  

3.  Add in four cups of flour, one cup at a time.  If dough looks too sticky, add up to 1/4 c. more.  When dough holds together, it is ready for kneading.

4.   If using a stand mixer, change to the dough hook and knead on low until dough is smooth, about seven minutes.  If working by hand, turn dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth. 

5.  Clean out bowl and grease it, then return dough to bowl. Alternately, have a separate bowl oiled and ready to go before beginning.  Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place for one hour, until almost doubled in size. You may also let dough rise in an oven that has been warmed to 150 degrees then turned off. Punch down dough, cover and let rise again in a warm place for another half hour.

6.  Turn dough out on to a floured work surface.  Knead in raisins, if using.  Divide dough into three equal pieces.  Join the three pieces at one end and tuck under.  Braid the dough and tuck the other end under.

7.  Beat remaining egg and brush it on loaf.  At this point, either freeze bread or let rise another hour.

8.  If baking immediately, preheat oven to 375 degrees and brush egg wash over loaf again.  If freezing, remove from freezer five hours before baking.

9.  Bake in middle of oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden.  If using an instant read thermometer, take the bread out when it hits an internal temperature of 190 degrees.  Cool bread on a rack, if you can wait that long!

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  1. Jen
    June 10, 2011 / 12:06 pm

    I havd no idea challah meant bread. I think french toast is the best way to eat challah.

  2. Pretend Chef
    June 10, 2011 / 12:30 pm

    I'm not doing so well on my 24 x 24. Haha! Happy to see you have marked another one off of your list. I will have to start a new list here in about a week. Your bread looks better than some I've seen in the bakery. Yummy! My itty bitty would go crazy over french toast the next morning.

  3. Erika @ ~TiptoeButterfly~
    June 10, 2011 / 2:33 pm

    i love using that bread for french toast!!!!!

  4. All Things Yummy
    June 10, 2011 / 6:48 pm

    I didn't know that's what it means. Learn something new every day. I love using challah for french toast. yum!

  5. That Girl
    June 10, 2011 / 6:50 pm

    Have I told you I love you? One of my giant pet peeves is when people call challah "challah bread." Technically you could just call it "egg bread" but "challah bread" is completely redundant and makes me think people have a stutter.

  6. Erin
    June 11, 2011 / 5:13 pm

    This looks perfect! I can't say that I have ever had Challah before – maybe without knowing it, but I know I have never bought it before. Great idea for french toast!

  7. Lexie
    June 12, 2011 / 3:22 am

    I was lucky enough to get to taste a slice of this bread. Let's just say that "amazing" doesn't do it justice. It was perfect – light, delicioius, and beautiful in color. It's a "must" to try. Thank you, daughter, for sharing this with me.

  8. The Baker
    October 26, 2011 / 7:33 pm

    This looks so good and beautiful!!!

  9. Anonymous
    April 2, 2013 / 10:36 pm

    I saw this pinned on Pinterest an decided to give it a go. Wonderful! Easy for a novice bread maker like me.

  10. Reuven M. Rosenberg, D.C.
    October 2, 2014 / 6:07 pm

    Lechem means bread. Bethlehem is really Beit Lechem, the house of bread.We always called challah just that. The root of the word means "sick". Will have to figure that one out.

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