Homemade Challah Bread

Homemade Four Braid Challah Bread


Friday afternoon is time for a big feast of the senses when the kitchen fills up with a delicious scent of freshly baked challah bread. It is a unique and soul awaking scent, and all you want is to grab hold of that challah as soon as it leaves the oven and spread yourself a generous slice with some butter and maybe a homemade marmalade.

Challah bread is based on yeast dough enriched with egg (e.g. fat), giving it a bit more of a luxurious flavour. It is an unusual looking loaf of bread, with a golden crust, a gorgeous braided shape and a fluffy and somewhat sweet interior. This is an excellent example of what you can achieve working with yeast and is much simpler to make than you might imagine.

In Jewish tradition, challah bread is usually served on Sabbath eve and high holidays. It’s unique braiding, and shiny exterior crust makes it into the perfect centrepiece for any table. But it is it’s delicate, sweetish flavour, and pillow-like centre that makes it the genuine heart of every celebration.

Braiding a Challah

The braiding of the challah is what gives this bread it’s very pleasing, entirely unique, look. There are many ways to braiding challah, from three strands braid to nine (yea, nine!) strands. You can weave a long, slim loaf, or a circular one, they all look great.

This post will focus on a four strands loaf, a fairly non-complex task that produces an elegant volume bread.

* See more on How to Braid Four Strand Challah underneath.

Ingredients:

300 gram strong flour
300 gram plain flour
1 sachet dry yeast (7 gram)
1 ¼ cup warm water
½ cup vegetable oil
1 egg
2 tbsp light brown sugar
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp salt

Method:

Melt 1 tbsp of sugar in 1 cup warm water and add the yeast, mix well until all combined and the yeast all melted. Set aside to froth for 5 minutes.

In a large bowl mix together the flours, 1 tbsp of sugar and the salt, and create a hole in the middle of the mix.

Add the egg, 1 tbsp of honey and the oil into the frothed yeast and beat all together gently.

Pour the wet ingredients into the hole in the dry ingredients and stir well.

When the dough comes together, add the rest of the water as needed, 1 tbsp warm water at a time.

Dough should be slightly sticky but hold its shape well.

Knead the dough with your hands. Folding and pushing onto itself until the bowl and the dough are clean of flour.

Move the dough onto well floured surface, sprinkle some flour on top and fold onto itself couple of times, creating a smooth surface ball.

Set the ball of dough in an oiled bowl, lightly spraying some oil on top of it, to prevent it from drying.

Cover with a clean cloth and leave to proof until double in size, about 90 min to 2 hours depends on the temperature in your kitchen.

Once doubled, deflate the dough with your fist and move onto a well-floured surface.

How to braid a Four Strand challah

Note: This dough will make two rather large challah bread.

Divide the dough into 8 equal parts. Knead each part couple of times and roll into a hot dog bun size. Allow to rest for 10 minutes.

Grab four of the ‘buns’ and roll out to a long strand, about 2-3 cm thick. How thick depends on how thick\long you want your challah to be. Mind not to go thin as they will break while weaving.

      * do not re-flour the surface. It will be easier to roll the dough on a non-floured surface.

Lay the four strands in parallel to one another in front of you, attach the strands together at the edge away from you.

Braid the dough by laying the out most right strand on top of the strand left to it, then threading it underneath the third strand and again on top of the fourth.

The right strand you started with should now be weaved into the others and placed as your out most left strand.

Repeat the weaving above and under all through the length of the strands.

Transfer the plaided challah onto a baking tray aligned with baking paper, cover with a clean cloth and leave to proof for 30-45 minutes.

Pre-heat your oven to 200 °C \180° fan \ Gas 6 \ 400 °F.

Brush the proofed challah with a mixture of 1 egg + 1 tbsp honey and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Bake in pre-heated oven for 25-30 min, until puffed and golden-brown.

How to Create a Perfect Proofing Environment

Option 1: heat up your oven to 150 for 7-8 minutes, turn it off and set the covered challah in it for 20-25 minutes, with the door cracked open.

Option 2: set the dough in a cold oven, laying a small pot of boiling water on the bottom of the oven, close the door and allow 25 minutes to proof.

Note: In general, Bread dough favours strong flour with a higher gluten content (also known as bread flour) that gives it it’s stretchiness and elasticity. However, challah dough actually works better with equal portions of strong flour and all-purpose flour as it produces a more refined, delicate bread.


Homemade Challah Bread

Homemade Four Braid Challah Bread

Fantastically light, soft and semi-sweet bread, that makes a beautiful centrepiece on any table.
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Proofing time 2 hrs 30 mins
Ingredients
  
  • 300 gram strong flour
  • 300 gram all-purpose flour
  • 7 gram dry yeast, 1 sachet
  • cup luke-warm water
  • ½ cup vegetables oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp salt
Instructions
 
Prepping the Challah dough
  • Melt 1 tbsp of sugar in 1 cup warm water and add the yeast, mix well until all melted. Set aside to froth.
  • In a large bowl mix together the flours, salt and 1 tbsp sugar. Create a hole in the middle of the mix.
  • Add the egg, 1 tbsp of honey and the oil into the frothed yeast and beat all together gently.
  • Pour the wet ingredients into the hole in the dry ingredients and stir well.
  • When the dough comes together, add the rest of the water as needed, 1 tbsp warm water at a time.
    The dough should be slightly sticky but hold its shape well.
  • Knead the dough with your hands. Folding and pushing onto itself until the bowl and the dough are clean of flour.
  • Move the dough onto well-floured surface, sprinkle some flour on top and fold onto itself couple of times, creating a smooth surface ball.
Proofing the dough
  • Set the ball of dough in an oiled bowl, lightly spraying some oil on top of it, to prevent it from drying.
  • Cover with a clean cloth and leave to proof until double in size, about 90 min to 2 hours depends on the temperature in your kitchen.
  • Once doubled, deflate the dough with your fist and move onto a well-floured surface.
Braiding the challah
  • Divide the dough into 8 equal parts. Knead each part couple of times and roll into a hot dog bun size. Allow to rest for 10 minutes.
  • Grab four of the 'buns' and roll out to a long strand, about 2-3 cm thick. How thick depends on how thicklong you want your challah to be. Mind not to go thin as they will break while weaving.
  • Lay the four strands in parallel to one another in front of you, attach the strands together at the edge away from you.
  • Braid the dough by laying the out most right strand on top of the strand left to it, then treading it underneath the third strand and again on top of the fourth.
  • The right strand you started with should now be weaved into the others and placed as your out most left strand.
  • Repeat the weaving above and under all through the length of the strands.
  • Transfer the plaited challah onto a baking tray aligned with baking paper, cover with a clean cloth and leave to proof for 30-45 minutes.
Baking the challah
  • Pre-heat your oven to 200 °C 180° fan Gas 6 400 °F.
  • Brush the proofed challah with a mixture of 1 egg + 1 tbsp honey and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  • Bake in pre-heated oven for 25-30 min, until puffed and golden-brown.
Keyword Bread, Challah, Yeast dough