Challa-lujah!

I confess to a certain ignorance about Jewish baking. I didn’t grow up in that culture (aside from a brief exposure to Chanukah songs in kindergarten). As a kid, my Jewish friends gravitated, like me, more towards McDonald’s fries and Ring-Dings than latkes and honey cake.

But I have to admit, my education has been growing by leaps and bounds since I started blogging here. You readers out there have seen to that.

First there was the flourless chocolate cake for Passover, where you told me that vanilla and confectioners’ sugar and butter (sometimes) are NOT suitable ingredients for Passover baking.

Then there was the mandelbrot, where I learned that chocolate chips have to be  “parve” to be considered kosher, and walnuts shouldn’t be eaten on Rosh Hashanah.

And then there were the latkes… I didn’t rashly smash TOO many dietary laws there, but did get lots of good advice about potato starch, and a warning not to serve latkes with sour cream unless the accompanying meal is vegetarian.

Thanks, all of you, for your contributions to my continuing education! I now (tentatively, hesitantly) present you with my version of challah, the most traditional and beloved of Jewish yeast breads.

After all, my apple challah recipe passed muster with flying colors during the Jewish high holidays last September. Which gave me the confidence to present you with this classic four-strand braided challah.

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And its sibling, challah French toast, which Halley (our Web projects manager) says is the ONLY thing to do with stale challah.

If I’ve broken any (dietary) laws, forgive me. And tell me where I’ve gone astray. Higher education is a good thing… particularly when food is the focus.

Want to read a recipe before you begin? Check out our Classic Challah.

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Let’s play with the bread machine today. For those of you wanting to see challah dough made in a stand mixer, check out our challah challenge post.

First, combine all of the ingredients—water, oil, honey, eggs, flour, salt, and yeast—in the pan of your bread machine. Program for the dough cycle, and press start. This is what the dough will look like (above) after 5 minutes or so. If it appears too dry or too wet, adjust with some extra water or flour.

This is a good time to mention winter vs. summer yeast breads. Flour is like a sponge; in summer it soaks up humidity from the air, and you need less liquid to make a soft dough. In winter flour dries out, and you need more liquid. So don’t be surprised if the recipe you followed successfully in August makes dough that seems a bit dry now, in January; just increase the liquid by a tablespoon (or 2, or 3).

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Here’s the dough fully kneaded.

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An hour later, it’s risen nicely. Because of the eggs and honey this dough doesn’t rise vigorously; but it should definitely look puffy by the end of the cycle.

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Remove the dough from the bread machine. We’re going to make a four-strand braid here, so divide dough into four pieces, shaping each into a rough log on a lightly greased silicone mat (or other clean surface). If you want to make a simple three-strand braid, divide the dough into three pieces.

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Gently roll each log until it’s at least 18” to 24” long; the longer the logs, the longer/skinnier the loaf.

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Here they are, ready for braiding.

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Here’s a copy of some handy 4-strand braid directions from The King Arthur 200th Anniversary Cookbook. Refer to these as you work if (like me) you’re easily confused by the braiding process.

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Squeeze the ends of the braids together.

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The top strand goes over the two middle strands…

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…then back under one. Notice you still have four distinct strands here; keep that fact in mind.

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The bottom strand goes over the two middle strands…

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…and back under one.

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Top strand over the middle two…

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…and back under one.

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Bottom strand over the middle two…

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…and back under one.

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Repeat until the loaf is totally braided, tucking the raggedy parts at both ends underneath, so they don’t show. If you’re flummoxed by all this, just make a simple three-strand braid, OK? It’ll be just fine. This tutorial is for bread-braiders looking for a challenge.

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Let the loaf rise till it’s puffy, then brush with an egg-and-water glaze.

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Sprinkle heavily with sesame or poppy seeds, if desired.

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Bake (on an oven stone, if you like)…

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…till the challah is a beautiful, shiny, golden brown. Cool completely on a rack. Enjoy with dinner. Then use any leftovers for toast or—for a real treat—challah French toast.

Want to read a recipe before you begin? Check out our French Toast.

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Slice the challah about 3/4” thick. You’ll be making about 7 or 8 pieces of French toast.

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Whisk together cream, rum, eggs, sugar, a pinch of salt, nutmeg, and vanilla. Can you leave out the rum? OF COURSE. It’s there for flavor only.

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Pour the liquid into a shallow pan, and set a slice or two of challah in the pan to soak for about 30 seconds or so. The drier/staler the challah, the longer you should let it soak. It shouldn’t be sodden, but the liquid should definitely penetrate into the interior somewhat.

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Soak the other side the same way.

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Cook challah over medium-low heat, or on a 300°F griddle, till both sides are golden.

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Like this.

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Serve the French toast immediately. Or set it on a baking sheet and keep it warm in the oven till everyone’s ready.

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Serve with butter and syrup, or with cinnamon-sugar.  The aroma of cream and nutmeg and cinnamon and butter and frying is unbelievable…

Read, rate, and review (please!) our recipe for Classic Challah.

Read, rate, and review (please!) our recipe for French Toast.

Buy vs. Bake

Buy: Paul & Elizabeth’s Natural Food Restaurant, Northampton, MA: Challah French toast served with maple syrup, $7.00

Bake at home: Challah French toast served with butter and cinnamon-sugar, 61¢; with butter and real Vermont maple syrup, $1.57

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...

comments

  1. britt

    I LOVE CHALLAH! I do the 6 strand braid I have to look it up every time (maybe I should just make it more often) I will have to try this recipe

    Reply
  2. lisa

    Mmmm. I love making challah and that French toast sounds great. If I want to use the same recipe to make a few small loaves, how long do you think they should bake? Are you in Northampton? I saw the Paul & Elizabeth’s price for their French toast.

    Lisa, bake till it’s golden brown – depending on how many small loaves, I don’t know how long that would be. Don’t worry, just wing it, you’ll figure it out. We’re in Norwich, Vermont; I go online to look for comparable pricing, so my “comps” could be anywhere from New Orleans to Anchorage to Hartford, CT… – PJH

    Reply
  3. Mike T.

    Mmm, love challah! One suggestion for those like me that tend to deflate the bread when spreading the egg wash mixture. Either put the egg wash in a food grade spray bottle and spritz it on, or use KAF’s Quick Shine. The only issue with the Quick Shine is that it contains Milk Proteins, so it can’t be used if you are serving it with meat. That is, if you keep Kosher… ;-)

    Reply
  4. Bridgett

    Wow! Thanks for the amazing pics and diagram for the braiding of the dough. And the browning on the finished product is just amazing. Almost too pretty to eat!

    Reply
  5. Mike T.

    An alternative recipe for French Toast is one my mom used to use for special brunches. It is deep fried and uses butter, so again, not Kosher with meat.

    Puffy French Toast

    12 slices of (day old) Challah
    1/4c Soft Butter
    3/4c Brown Sugar

    1+3/4c Flour
    1+1/2 tsp Baking Powder
    1/2 tsp Salt
    2 Eggs, separated
    1c +2 tbl Milk
    3 tbl Melted Butter

    Spread bread with soft butter. Sprinkle 6 slices with brown sugar, using about 2 tbl on each slice. Make 6 sandwiches with the sugared and non-sugared slices. Cut each into half on the diagonal.

    Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add egg yolks, milk and melted butter. Mix well. Beat egg whites until stiff, then fold into batter mixture. Batter will be thick. Dip each sandwich piece the batter, coating well. Deep fry in a skillet until deep brown in color. Turn and brown on second side. Drain on paper towel.

    Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve with jelly, honey or syrup.

    Reply
  6. Joie de vivre

    Beautiful loaf and wonderful braiding instructions. Making it in a bread machine makes it accessible for every day baking. I’m definitely trying this one! I love the title of your blog post too, it made me laugh. :)

    Reply
  7. Bob

    Oh man – would love to make this. Is this a dough that can be hand kneaded by relative novices, or do you really need a mixer or bread machine? Thanks.

    Sure, Bob, knead it by hand. It’ll be good practice for you! PJH

    Reply
  8. Jerry

    What temperature should the bread reach? 190?
    Thanks

    Yes, Jerry, 190°F (minimum) is the correct temperature for this bread. Don’t go too much over 200°F, as the bread will be overbaked. Heavy, dense whole-grain loaves should go to about 205°F to 210°F, but in general, 190°F is a good temperature to go by. – PJH

    Reply
  9. joyce erlitz

    you’re right, challah french toast is the best. after all, what could be better than dipping an egg bread into eggs?
    some of the “jewish food” given by the original poster are incorrect. i don’t know who told you that you can’t eat walnuts on passover. a flourless chocolate cake is not necessarily “pesedich” (suitable for passover consumption) after all, matzoh is made from flour. any questions?

    Someone said no walnuts on Rosh Hashanah because the letters in the Hebrew word “walnut” add up to something bad… ? I didn’t quite get it, but I defer to those who know what they’re talking about – which isn’t me. Thanks for your offer to help – PJH

    Reply
  10. SoupAddict Karen

    I am so excited about this post! I made challah french toast (soaked overnight in its yummy custard and then baked instead of griddled) New Year’s morning, having to resort to grocery store challah. It was fine, but homemade bread would’ve been so much better. I used Bailey’s Irish Cream and Grand Marnier instead of rum. Oh soo good. I can’t wait to try this recipe so that I can have another go at french toast with the leftover bread. Maybe with rum this time. Oh great, now I have french toast on the brain, and no immediate way to satisfy the craving. Maybe a spoonful of maple syrup spiked with rum? (What is wrong with me…. ;)

    I know what you mean about French toast, Karen. There’s some kind of kids’ breakfast cereal I’ve even been desperate enough to resort to in the past – French Toast Crunch? Something like that… I think it’s the nutmeg, personally. :) PJH

    Reply
  11. Robert Imholz

    How would I adjust this recipe if I wanted to use KA bread flour?
    Thanks. Robert

    Hi Robert – I’d add a couple of tablespoons extra water. It’ll make a somewhat tougher loaf, but should be OK – PJH

    Reply
  12. Beth

    I’ll have to try this recipe. I’ve used another KAF recipe, the “Four-Strand Braided Challah,” for the last six years, which leads me to a question, PJ: First, it didn’t used to be called this, and second, I had posted a review (a rave review, I might add), which seems to have disappeared. Do you all sometimes just delete some of the reviews? And go ahead and change the titles of recipes if you want, please just don’t eliminate the recipe. If this recipe and your “Garlic Knots” recipe disappear, I’ll be very upset. I haven’t made challah for awhile, and my husband loves French toast, so I think this is a good time for this. Thanks for the great photos and instructions, PJ. One of these days I’ll get it right. I also love the look of braided challah made in a loaf pan.

    We don’t delete reviews, unless we delete the whole recipe and replace it with a revamped version. But the Four-Strand Braided Challah Recipe is still there; in fact, there are currently six challah recipes online. I can’t recall any being deleted. So sorry, I’m mystified. Are you sure the recipe you used isn’t there? PJH

    Reply
  13. Beth

    PJ, I guess I need to clarify my earlier statement. The challah recipe entitled “4-strand braided challah” is the one I have used for years, but I am positive that was not the original title of the recipe when I first started using it, and it also was not the title of the recipe when I reviewed it a few months ago. Anyway, it’s no big deal. As long as that recipe is still online, I’m happy.

    Reply
  14. Susan D. Dickes

    My Jewish grandmother taught me to bake challah every friday night over 50 years ago – without any machines -“make a well in the flour and add each egg individually – slowly–slowly–“. I still remember her words. I had not baked bread since then. I came back to bread baking – and King Arthur- just about a year ago. This was one of the first recipes I made. It was perfect the first time. Thank you for the helpful Hotline. They held my hand just like grandma did those many years ago. The blogs always make me smile. Susan

    Susan, what a nice comment. Thanks for connecting – PJH

    Reply
  15. Phyllis Kauffman

    I used to make challah with my kids every Friday to start out celebration of the sabbath. It’s been a while but you’re recipe looks great and I think it’s time to start again.
    Suggestion for leftover challah – bread pudding. The bakery that makes the best challah I’ve ever tasted, started using some of their bread for a wonderful dessert. It’s another great use of leftover challah, although in my house we never had leftovers. I had to hide some bread if I wanted to make french toast.

    Great idea, Phyllis – and what a wonderful, warming dessert on a cold winter night. As for hiding the challah – maybe if that happens again, you need to make two loaves. One for now, one for later. :) PJH

    Reply
  16. Beth Ann

    If you would like to see a pic of a 6 rope braid, there are pics on my blog here.

    http://buffalofood.blogspot.com/2009/01/holiday-wrapup.html

    I have been doing the six rope since I was a kid. It’s just some kind of strange rote action that happens with me and I don’t think I could ever even write directions for it. Usually about 90 seconds and it’s done. I learned from my grandmother, and to this day my mother hates me because domestic skills skipped a whole generation there ;-)

    Here’s another “short and fat” shape I do

    http://buffalofood.blogspot.com/2008/12/get-that-braided-bread-when-you-go.html

    Thanks for posting this. It’s nice to see a little revival in crafted bread as an art form.

    Nice braids, Beth Ann. Thanks for sharing- PJH

    Reply
  17. Tracie

    Just made the Challah today, it looks too nice to eat but of course we are eating it right now!! Thanks for the blog! I just discovered and I think I am baking bread or treats every other day!!!

    Good for you, Tracie. Baking your own bread is not only healthy, it’s usually a whole lot less expensive than buying it. AND it’s delicious. AND creative. A win-win-win-win! PJH

    Reply
  18. Library Lady

    I grew up eating challah in NYC back when we could get it fresh on Friday from the bakery–it’s part of the Sabbath meal in observant homes (mine isn’t and wasn’t) and is sliced at the table with a prayer.

    I’ve been baking challah since I was a teen–back in the 70s (!)My challah recipe dates back to a book called “Bake Your Own Bread” by Floss Dworkin. It has a lot more moisture than your recipe–3 eggs and a cup and a half of oil (as noted, butter would make this a dairy only bred) and it’s much sweeter– 3/4 cup of sugar or (my preference) honey.

    It’s a very soft, flexible dough. Nowadays I do use the bread machines, but it’s a breeze to make by hand AND rolls like a dream.

    In recent years I have taken to making challah rolls. After the dough is finished I put small pieces into muffin tins (one is a KA Muffin Square pan), let them rise until doubled, then bake for about 20-30 minutes at 350. Easy to do and easy to serve. I can even fridge some of the dough in a plastic bag and bake another batch the next day.

    Reply
  19. Nicki

    Hi PJ,

    I’m wondering if it’s possible to add cinnamon chips and make this in the lidded bread pan you sell…I’d love to make a perfectly square french toast with this!

    Don’t see why not, Nicki – my only caveat would be if you add, like, 1 cup of chips, it might turn out to be too much dough for the pan… just not sure. You might want to make the dough, take out maybe 3/4 cup of it, then stir in the chips. Make the little piece of dough into a roll and bake it separately. Let me know how it turns out – sounds SO yummy… PJH

    Reply
  20. Nicki

    Thanks PJ! I’m gonna try it. Maybe this summer you can teach us how to make Hawaiian sweet bread? And then Hawaiian sweet bread with coconut surup? Ohhhh, Hawaii, I miss you!

    Reply
  21. luv2cook

    I linked back to this on my blog as I had to make it as soon as I saw it. Mine when cut looks much darker then yours yet the outside was the same. I wonder if I need top lower the temp in my oven? I LOVE kaf and try a ton of the things you guys highlight as it all looks so good!!!!

    Maybe your honey is darker? Hard to say what makes it darker… I don’t think oven temp. would account for a darker inside. Glad you’re enjoying this blog- PJH

    Reply
  22. debbie jo

    Has anyone tried onion rolls made from challah dough? My Lithuanian Bubbie made these at the same time as challah, and my brother and I would sneak them from the kitchen while they were cooling on Fridays. Saute a diced onion in oil (chicken schmaltz if you have the nerve) and let them cook till soft over a very low fire. Make flat rolls out of challah dough (think burger buns) and brush the tops of each with the onion/oil. Bake as for challah. Your kitchen will smell like heaven for days!

    Debbie Jo, that sounds wonderful! But I’m wondering, do the onions burn? That’s always been my problem with onion rolls. I wonder if you took the challah dough and somehow folded some of the onions inside, baked most of the way, then brushed with oil/onions at the end, so they didn’t blacken? PJH

    Reply
    1. Randy Kaplan

      I dice my onions – I use two medium or one giant onion – pretty finely, and saute it slowly over low-medium heat, with one teaspoon salt, as Debbie Jo’s bubbie instructs, until translucent but not browned. I spoon out three generous serving spoons of onion. Reserve two. Spread the third spoon of onions on a foil sheet and sprinkle lightly with poppy seeds and breadcrumbs, and let them toast to dark brown while continuing to prepare the rolls. Mix about 1/4 tsp. poppy seeds and 1/2 tsp, bread crumbs to the reserved two spoonfuls of onions, and spread on wax paper or parchment. I mix the larger portion of the onion with two generous teaspoons of poppy seeds and one generous teaspoon of caraway seeds (substituting fennel or dill seeds if you prefer that flavor profile optional), and 2 tablespoons of bread crumbs and saute another minute or so. That larger portion, split in half, is what you will spread on the divided-in-two-halves rolled-out and squared-off challah dough (18 by 10 inches), then folding bottom third up and top third down so you have two 18×3 rolls, Spread and press the reserved two spoons of onion and seeds onto the tops of the rolls, and then sprinkle the toasted portion for color. Then cut each roll into six pieces and let rise on parchment-lined baking sheets, and let rise 45-60 minutes in warm part of the kitchen, brush risen rolls with egg wash, and bake in 350 degree preheated oven 10-12 minutes until mottled brown. Remove to cooling rack for 10-15 minutes and serve. The onions will not burn, inside or out, but the toasty dark browned onions are the ultimate finishing touch.

      If you grew up eating fat cigar-shaped onion rolls rather then the folded, squarish onion pocket rolls that my recipe makes, I’d simply spread the onion/seed mix on the bottom two-thirds of the rolled-our challah dough and roll up and pinch shut instead of folding. I’m a Skokie/Lincolnwood boy; we got the fat cigar onion rolls from Kaufmann’s Bagel Bakery on Dempster. For reasons never clear to me, many of not most Chicago-area Jewish delis and bakeries marketed these as “California onion rolls,” while usually calling the flatter, squarer version “onion pockets”, What the part that was allegedly Californian, or why that should appeal to Jews, I never knew. I lived in LA for a dozen years, where I found a number of places I could get great onion rolls, challah, bagels, and bialys, among many other things, but those places never referred to “California onion rolls.” But now that I am in the Bay Area, I have to make my own onion rolls.

    2. PJ Hamel , post author

      Randy, these sound spectacularly good. And thanks so much for the detailed instructions, and the geographical context. :) One question: just want to clarify, the onions inside are laid along the center of the 18″ x 10″ rectangle, lengthwise, and then both top and bottom folded over them, right? There’s not two layers of onions inside – just one? And then you cut six rolls, so you have basically six 3″ x 3″ square pockets. I look forward to making these! PJH

  23. Beth

    An earlier poster’s comments reminded me of seeing braided (can’t remember how many braids) challah baked in an open loaf pan. It was beautiful. If it doesn’t work in the pan de mie pan, I bet it would work in a plain loaf pan.

    Reply
  24. Olivia

    Yum! I love Challah and just recently attempted a loaf a few weeks ago. I got my recipe from the William Sonoma’s Essentials of Baking cookbook, and had huge troubles trying to figure out the correct way to braid the four-strand loaf. In the end I just twisted them randomly around each other and it worked out fine, but your step-by-step pictures just taught me so much! Thanks so much for sharing them, and come and stop by my (brand new) blog when you get the chance!

    http://bakingbarista.wordpress.com/

    Olivia

    Good luck with your blog, Olivia – I enjoyed your first post. PJH

    Reply
  25. Char in Michigan

    Loved the Challa! I made it for dinner with the neighbors yesterday, and it was a big hit. I must admit to a mistake, however. When it was time to knead it, I sprinkled flour onto my silicone mat, instead of oiling the mat. Well, that made for an ugly loaf, but it didn’t hurt the flavor one bit. It wasn’t until after the fact that I took time to read that part of the instructions. Oh, well. That just means I’ll have to do it again, real soon. We had the pleasure of toasting it this morning. This bread is similar to Houska, the bread my Czechoslovokian Mom and Grandma made, except for the fruits and nuts. Thanks so much!
    Hi Char,
    Just goes to prove that true (baking) beauty is only skin deep. Glad to hear your ugly duckling loaf was a swan in term of taste. Happy Baking! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  26. Mike T.

    Okay, got a question… My family gets together for each of our birthdays, and I just had mine a week ago. I’m currently on a diet so I’ve postponed the get together until mid-Feb. We usually do dinner, but I want a brunch. I just bought the Pain de Mie and would like to make the Challah recipe in it for french toast. How should I adjust it for that pan?

    From the question that I posted about a normal loaf pan on the Pain de Mie blog entry, it looks like I should increase the flour. Any idea by how much? Also, will the recipe be enough, or should I make 1.5x or 2x? Thanks!

    The pain de mie recipe yields a 2.5# batch of dough, the challah yields a batch at 1.75#. You will need to increase all of the challah ingreients except the yeast by 30% to equalize the dough weight. Frank From KAF.

    Reply
  27. Mike T.

    Thanks Frank. My other concern, besides the 30% difference, was that on the Pain de Mei blog page, they said to decrease the amount of flour if I made it in an open loaf pan, so I figure that I should increase it if I put it into this pan. I’m assuming that because it is covered, you need more flour for the trapped moisture. So, beside doing an overall 30% increase, do I have to add more flour to take into account the increased moisture? Thanks again!

    Please give us a call on the hotline, 800-827-6836, for specifics. Frank from KAF.

    Reply
  28. Deanna

    I have an easier four braid: pinch 4 strands together. Take the right hand one and go over, under, over. Repeat! Pinch the other ends together. I also have a great and EASY 6 braid if anyone is interested.
    Thanks for sharing Deanna. Sounds like something I will have to try soon. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  29. Renae W.

    Hi! I love, love, love your blog. I am one of those who would enjoy working in the test kitchen. I am having one bread baking issue, however. I have made challah twice now and the English muffin toasting bread is in the oven now-neither of the doughs rose as much as they should have. I used the instant yeast and did everything else to the letter. I am getting so frustrated! I live in upstate SC, so there should be no elevation issues. HELP!!! I haven’t cooked much with yeast and I have no family or friends who bake so there is no one here to ask what I’m doing wrong. Any insights you may have would be greatly appreciated!

    When doughs are low rising, it can indicate the dough needs a little bit more liquid. Next time try adding 1-2 more tablespoons of liquid to the dough. The bakers are always here to help. Please call us if you need assistance, 800-827-6836. Frank from KAF.

    Reply
  30. Janice

    Been making challah for shabbat for years. Yours is almost perfect, but one thing, you need to let it proof longer. Challah should be almost fully proofed before you put it in the oven. You don’t want any oven bloom to ruin your braids. The perfect challah (which admittedly after years, I still only get about 60% of the time) has no oven bloom at all.

    Reply
  31. Felice

    I’m a little late coming to the party, but chocolate chips DO NOT have to be parve to be kosher. “Parve” means the food product is neutral – neither meat nor dairy – and hence may be served with either. Chips can, and frequently are kosher dairy. Symbols on the package might include OUD or KD or even KDE, signifiying that the product contains no dairy but was made on machinery that previously ran dairy items. Those chips are entirely kosher but can only be eaten with a dairy meal.

    Also, the avoidance of walnuts on Rosh Hashanah is an Ashkenazi tradition. And the “bad thing” that the Hebrew word for walnuts adds up to is “sin.” We try to avoid the reminder of sin at a season of repentance.

    To further muddy things up, some Jews, but by no means all, not even a majority, hold to the “non-gebrokhts” standard during Passover. That means that they will not use matzah products in any was that will cause them to come into contact with liquid. That obviously includes baking. The vast majority of Jews, both fully observant and less so, will use matzah meal and matzah cake meal during Passover. There are even Passover certified baking powder, baking soda, and vanilla more or less widely available.

    Sorry for the digressive explosion of information.

    Reply
  32. Andrea

    Felice, I am so glad you clarified. I was just thinking about my response but you have done all the work for me, and accurately so. I’d just like to add a couple of thoughts. The issue with the confectioners sugar has to do with the additon of cornstarch. However, depending whether one is of Ashkenazic or Spehardic lineage, it may be a non-issue as corn, for some can be included, especially Jews who are live in or emigrated from countries where maize in a mainstay in the diet. A friend of mine follows the strictest of rules during Pesach, including nothing with corn syrup (e.g. sodas), as well as no extracts that contain alcohol. The reason for alcohol-free extracts originates with questionability of the grain from which the alcohol is derived. Any one of the main prohibited grains during Passover would be excluded as it is not considered “Pesedich”; otherwise if one had knowledge of the origin of the alcohol grain, it would likely then be subject to the traditions of their lineage. Not to complicate this further…

    That said, there previously was a fabulous bakery in Dallas that used KAF for their challah. I didn’t bother making my own because their challah was so spectacular that it was worth buying and using it not only for Shabbat but also for recipes calling for stale bread. After countless years in business, they closed up shop to the retail sector. I was devastated because I used their, and only their, challah for the Cinnamon Bread Pudding on p. 292 of KA’s 200th Anniversary cookbook – I even noted it in my cookbook so when it is eventually passed on to my heirs that they would know exactly what made it extra special. You can bet I am excited to try this recipe in hopes that is comes closer to their challah recipe than anything I’ve been able to replicate.
    Andrea, we hope the recipe is everything you are hoping for. Thanks for mentioning about writing the specifics of what makes your recipe ‘special’ for your future generations. Sadly, we hear everyday from folks looking for a special recipe or ingredient that Mom or Gramma used to use but never shared, so they are left searching for a piece of their heritage. PLEASE folks, share those secrets now with your loved ones so they are not lost! ~MaryJane

    Reply
  33. Phil

    Thanks for a great recipe. We pretty much make the same thing! Two quick comments. First off, the use of sesame seeds (or poppy) is a traditional topping for Challah as it symbolizes the mannah that fell when the Israelites wandered in the dessert for 40 years. The Challah itself also represents the Mannah as we use two challot (plural of Challah) each sabbath and holiday meal symbolizing the double portion of mannah they collected before the sabbath.

    Finally, its great others commented on the Jewish topics you have here. Everyone should just understand that there are many different Jewish traditions and even different ways people observe the kosher laws.

    Thanks, Phil, for your encouragement. I’m glad to hear there’s no black-and-white “right/wrong” about traditional Jewish food, but instead, potentially many paths to the same destination… PJH

    Reply
  34. Dawn of Dawn's Recipes

    I just wanted to say how excited I am right now. I finally got a Zo’ yesterday for Christmas after reading about them on this blog all the time. I’ve decided my first bread will be this Challah. I have another get-together with family this afternoon, so I’m hoping to wow them with my mad braiding skills. (Okay, this will be the first time I’ve made a braided bread, but I’m feeling confident today!)

    Thanks so much for touting the Zo’ all the time! I’m sure it will get plenty of use. My brother’s already requested fresh bread each day for the remainder of his stay up north, and my dad has always been a bread fiend. The mess is the biggest reason I don’t make bread more often, but this eliminates quite a bit of that.

    Reply
  35. Ryan

    I just made Challah for the first time yesterday and it was delicious. I like to think of myself as a pretty decent novice baker and was quite proud of that little loaf. Like most people, I couldn’t leave well enough alone and had to go for an extra fancy look. I took the dough and split it into two peices, one ball roughly half the size of the other. I made both of these into three strand braids and put the little guy on top of the big guy, gluing them together with egg wash. After all was said and done, the bottom baked faster than the top braid and it came out lopsided. Beautiful browning, tasty bread, but it looked like it was channeling the leaning tower of Pisa. Any thoughts on this? Should I go with your tried and true method and put those fancy thoughts out of my head?

    Next time, divide the dough 2/3-1/3. This will keep things moving along together. There are dozens of shaping/braiding variations out there, don’t stop now. Frank @ KAF.

    Reply
  36. Megan

    I made this bread yesterday for dinner with my parents and it was AMAZING! The loaf looked absolutely beautiful with the four stranded braid, baked (yes, I took pictures). Everytime I looked at my homemade bread loving father he had his hand in the bread basket. And my mother said, ” This tastes like an egg bread, just like at those Jewish bakeries we always went to when I was a kid.” I said, “Yeah Mom, it’s challah, a Jewish staple!” Funny and a great compliment. My maternal grandfather’s family was Jewish and it is fun to be able to keep that heritage alive! Thanks for the wonderful recipes and tutorials.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Sure, though I would not add more than 1 cup of raisins to the dough. Jon@KAF

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