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Braided Sweet Shabbat Challah

Braided Shabbat Challah

Prep Time: 3.45 Hours
Cook Time: 40-50 Minutes
Yield: 1 – 2# Loaf
Total Cost: About $5.50
Oven Temperature: 350 F

Ingredients

Dough

  • 1.5 TBSP active dry yeast
  • 0.75 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 TBSP vegetable oil
  • 0.50 cup dark honey
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 TBSP kosher salt
  • 9 cups all-purpose flour

Egg wash

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 TBSP water

Directions

  1. In a glass bowl, dissolve the yeast and add 1 TBSP of sugar in 1.75 cups of warm water. The water should be a little warmer than room temperature to kickstart the activation of your dry yeast. The sugar acts as food for the yeast.
  2. After 5 minutes of letting the yeast mix dissolve, go ahead and mix in 4 TBSP of oil and honey. Beat the eggs into the yeast mixture, slowly, just one at a time.
  3. Transfer this mixture to a kitchen-aid bowl and add a dough hook to the machine.
  4. Add the flour very slowly to this mixture so it has time to incorporate, but not too slow as to start to work up too much gluten. If you don’t have a mixer, you can add the flour to your bowl and once it is incorporated well, you’ll want to knead this on the counter. Make sure you clean the counter and then flour it before you turn it out. When you knead always make sure you push your wrists down and roll up like you’re making a circle with your hands. 
  5. Grab a new glass bowl and rub it with the about 2 TBSP of vegetable oil, then after your dough is nice and smooth after kneading put it in the greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap and a hot damp towel that has been wrung out. This towel will kind of help start the steam process of proofing. Place the dough somewhere warm so it will rise. I normally push my table next to the window if it’s sunny and that does the trick. If it’s not sunny out, you can put it on top of your stove as long as your oven is on it should radiate enough heat to start proofing. This process will take about 45 minutes to an hour. After it has doubled in size, punch it down in the bowl to release the air pockets, re-wrap and top with the re-warmed towel. It should sit for another 30-40 minutes.
  6. Making the braid: Now that your dough has properly proofed, divide it into 6 balls. Roll those balls in the cup of your hand on the counter until they are nice and smooth. Now, roll the balls into thin strands. You’ll want the strands to be 14” long. Line all of the strands together about 2” apart. Pinch the strands together at the very top. Start with the farthest strand on the right side, or left if you’re left handed and complete this method using the opposite strands. When you take the right strand, take it over 2, under 1 and then over. Repeat this again with the furthest strand to the right. Keep doing this until your loaf is braided! Take your loose ends and tuck them under.
  7. Brush your beautifully braided challah with your egg wash thoroughly and sprinkle with course sea salt. If you like sesame seeds or poppy seeds on top, go ahead and sprinkle those liberally. Now, cover your loaf with plastic wrap and let it rise for another 45 minutes on your baking pan. Once it’s risen about another 1/3 in volume, press your finger gently against the dough and if an indentation stays then it’s ready to go!
  8. Place your challah in the oven for 30 minutes, remove it after your timer goes off and brush it with another round of egg wash, the purpose of doing this is as your challah bakes and expands you’ll get patches of lighter challah that you’ll want to make sure you cover so your challah will look even in color when it’s done. Make sure when you put the challah back in you’ve rotated it. Set your timer for another 30 minutes. After your timer goes off, place a sheet of foil loosely around the challah, the purpose of this is to protect the outside of your challah and keep it from overcooking while you wait for the middle to be fully cooked. Set your timer for another 15 minutes. If the color is not completely caramel brown then remove the foil and let it bake for another 3-5 minutes. After this time has passed, take your challah out and test for doneness – rotate it and tap the middle underside of the loaf, if it makes a “hollow” sound then it is perfectly done!
Thu, September 24 2020 6 Tishrei 5781