Challah is a rich, buttery bread made for the Jewish Sabbath. This Ultimate Challah Bread recipe is based on a recipe handed down from one generation to the next.
My Ultimate Challah Bread recipe is slightly adapted from the Challah recipe in The Ultimate Jewish Shabbat Dinner by Liz Della Croce. Liz is the creator and author of The Lemon Bowl.
This eCookbook is the third in a series of eCookbooks profiling Sunday dinner across America. I named my version the Ultimate Challah Bread because of the title of the eCookbook, but also because this is the best challah bread I’ve ever eaten.
Liz explains the significance of Challah in the book:
Challah (halla, say the ch as if you’re clearing your throat) is the bread eaten on the Sabbath and on holidays. It’s traditionally prepared with white flour because refined flour was a luxury, which allowed all men and women to feel like royalty on the Sabbath. A blessing is said over lit candles, sacramental wine and challah bread as a means of saying thanks to the Creator Of All.
I also loved the story in The Ultimate Jewish Shabbat Dinner about Liz’s grandmother Ljuba. Ljuba is the inspiration for the eCookbook and it Ljuba’s recipes Liz shares, including Ljuba’s Challah bread recipe.
The Challah recipe is a wonderful old fashioned recipe, but when I’m making bread, I like my KitchenAid mixer to do all the work. So I changed the recipe into an easier to make mixer dough.
The recipe makes two large loaves. My new oven has a a proof setting, so I decided to split the dough in half before the first rise and let the dough rise in two glass bowls in the oven. If have you a large bowl, you wouldn’t need to split it until after the first rise.
I decided instead of a 3 strand braid I would do a fun 6 strand braid. Braiding with 6 strands sounds a bit intimidating, but it’s really super easy.
Just pinch the strands together at the top and fold them under. Then all you need to do is take the first strand and take it over the first two strands, under the next strand and over the last two strands.
I find it’s easiest if I move the strand that the dough is going to go under up out of the way and then fold it back down after I’ve crossed the other strands. (See the fourth picture below.)
Once you’ve braid as far down as you can, you just pinch the ends together and tuck them under the loaf.
Don’t worry if your braid isn’t perfect. Once the bread rises and bakes, it will look gorgeous and know one will care that it’s not perfect.
The smell while this braid is baking is heavenly. My family was crazy about this bread. I served a loaf with minestrone soup the first night. The second loaf I sliced and tucked it in the freezer for French toast on the weekend. But it never made it to the weekend, my boys couldn’t resist warming a slice at a time and snacking on it.
I haven’t been exposed to very much Jewish food, so the other recipes in the book also intrigued me, especially the Spinach Artichoke Pie, Apple Cake, and Noodle Kugel.
You can order the Kindle edition of The Ultimate Jewish Shabbat Dinner on Amazon or directly from The Lemon Bowl. Liz also has a bundle of all three editions of the Food From Our Ancestors eCookbook series, The Ultimate Cookbook Bundle, for just $9.99.
The Ultimate Challah Bread
- 7 cups all purpose flour
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 tablespoons salt
- 3 tablespoons Red Star active dry yeast
- 2 cups warm water 130 degrees
- ½ cup 1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled to 125 degrees*
- 4 eggs plus one for glazing
- In the bowl of a large stand mixer, mix 6 cups flour, sugar, salt and yeast.
- Add water and butter to flour-yeast mixture. Add eggs. Beat 1 minute at low speed. Scrape down dough from sides of bowl. Beat 3 more minutes at medium speed.
- Switch to the dough hook and knead for 5 minutes until smooth and elastic, adding remaining 1 cup flour a little at a time; add more or less as needed.
- Butter inside of large bowl (I divided the dough in half and used two bowls), place dough inside, cover with towel or plastic wrap to rise until doubled in size.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Punch down dough, divide in half. Take each half of dough and divide into 3, 4 or 6 strands, braid, place on pan lined with parchment paper, cover and let rise until double.
- Brush with a beaten egg, sprinkle with poppy seeds or sesame seeds, if desired. Bake for about 30-35 minutes until golden. (I used the Convection Bake mode on my oven and baked it for 20 minutes until it had an internal temperature of 190 degrees.) Cool completely before slicing.
More bread recipes you might like:
Whole Wheat Challah, Barbara Bakes
Apricot Cherry Breakfast Bread, Barbara Bakes
Jewish Rye Bread, Brown Eyed Baker
Honey Yeast Rolls, Melissa’s Southern Style Kitchen
One Hour Sandwich Bread, Foodie With Family
If you’re using butter, this isn’t challah. Challah has religious connotations, which you are not observing or being respectful of. You have clearly not taken challah (the entire reason the bread is called that is because challah is a verb describing something done that you skipped). You could have just called it braided bread; that would have been honest.
Hi Katherine – as noted *traditional Jewish sabbath bread does not include butter or any dairy at all, sub oil for traditional Jewish sabbath bread. Also, as I discussed in the post, the recipe is not one that I created but one that Liz shares in her cookbook which I link to in the post.