The first time I ever tried challah was freshman year of college when I attended Shabbat with some of my Jewish friends. I was very new to the food (I called it challah bread for a year while my friends had to explain I was saying bread bread). From then on I knew the Jewish people and I had a deep connection through food. All my friends and I sat around the table tearing chunks of bread and being merry. Nothing is more beautiful than bread, especially sharing with the ones you love. But challah is so beautiful you really have to love the people to share it… I ate so much challah I can remember the stomachache I had after, but no regrets. I left that night a new woman, with a smile on my face, food baby in my belly and a chunk of challah in my purse. From then on I’ve been obsessed with challah. I even proposed a law that all french toast should be made from challah. My first time baking challah myself was a total success which fueled the love further. This is a fool proof recipe thanks to a woman who is my ultimate go to (besides my mama of course) when I want something to be good.
Adopted from Ina Garten
2 packets 4 0z yeast
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup warm water (110 degrees)
3 eggs, room temperature
1 egg yolk, room temperature
1 stick of butter at room temperature
1 tablespoon kosher salt
5-6 cups all purpose flower
oil for proofing
1 egg and one tablespoon water
- Mix sugar, yeast and water in a standing mixer fitted with a kneading mixer. Allow it to sit for 5 minutes until the yeast mixture starts to foam.
- Then add your eggs, mix to combine.
- Slowly add 4 1/2 cups of all purpose flour, scraping the bowl as you go.
- Once combined add salt and butter cut into cubes.
- Add one more cup of flour and knead in mixer for 5 minutes. If the mixture starts to become too wet and sticking to the bottom of the bowl add a little more flour during the kneading time.
- Grease a large bowl for the dough to proof in. Take the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead by hand for two minutes. Create a ball and put it into the greased bowl and rub it around so a crust doesn’t form while proofing. Let raise for two hours.
- After two hours lightly punch down the dough and put it on a work space. Cut it into four equal parts then make each section of dough 17 inches long.
- To braid, put one end of each dough on top of another, pinch then fold under. Starting with the most right crossover two strands then repeat with the left side. To finish the braid pinch ends together again and fold under itself.
- Let the braid rise for 45-60 minutes.
- To bake preheat the oven to 350 degrees, egg wash the dough with the 1 egg and 1 tablespoon of water mixture and bake for 35 minutes or until it becomes a nice shiny brown crust and sounds hollow when tapped.
Best eaten the day made. The next day it is still good but can go a little stale. If making french toast, or bread pudding it is perfect when sitting for a couple days. I recommend also just plainly toasting it when it starts to stale and it becomes a whole new dimension of heaven on earth!