How to Braid a 3-Strand Challah

  • 01 of 12

    How to Braid Challah: Method 1

    3 Strand Braided Challah Dough
    A 3-strand braided Challah bread, ready for a second rise. © 2013 Miri Rotkovitz

    Challah, the classic Shabbat and holiday bread, is made from a soft, eggy dough that can be shaped in many ways. A 3-strand braid is one of the simplest shapes to master. Method 1, illustrated in this step-by-step guide, begins at the top of the loaf.

    Continue to 2 of 12 below.
  • 02 of 12

    Divide the Challah Dough into 3 Portions

    Divide the Dough
    Challah dough, separated into portions for braiding. © 2013 Miri Rotkovitz

    Prepare your favorite challah dough recipe. After the dough has risen, separate challah, if necessary.

    For each challah loaf, divide the dough into 3 equal portions. You can do this by sight and feel, or use a kitchen scale to check that the lumps of dough are about the same weight.

    Continue to 3 of 12 below.
  • 03 of 12

    Begin Shaping the Challah Dough

    ShapingChallahDough.JPG
    Shaping the challah dough. © 2013 Miri Rotkovitz

    With clean, lightly floured hands, begin to shape and gently stretch the dough balls into log shapes.

    Continue to 4 of 12 below.
  • 04 of 12

    Roll the Dough into Ropes

    ChallahDough-Snakes.JPG
    Rolling the challah dough into snakes. © Miri Rotkovitz

    Place the dough logs on a very lightly floured work surface and use your hands to roll and pull them into long ropes. Use even pressure as you roll the dough, in order to maintain an even thickness along the length of each rope.

    Continue to 5 of 12 below.
  • 05 of 12

    Place the Dough Ropes on a Baking Sheet

    ReadytoBraid.JPG
    Challah dough snakes, ready for braiding. © 2013 Miri Rotkovitz

    Place the challah dough ropes on a baking sheet that has been lightly greased or lined with parchment paper. The ropes should be lined up side by side, but not touching -- you'll want to leave at least an inch between each rope so that you have enough room to braid.

    Tip: If one of your dough ropes is bigger or smaller than the others, make that one the center strand.

    Continue to 6 of 12 below.
  • 06 of 12

    Pinch the Ends of the Dough Together

    PinchDough.JPG
    Pinching the ends of the dough together. © 2013 Miri Rotkovitz

    Firmly pinch the ends of the dough ropes together on one side. This will hold the top of the loaf together while you braid.

    Continue to 7 of 12 below.
  • 07 of 12

    Tuck the Ends Under the Loaf

    TuckDough.JPG
    Tucking the ends under the loaf before braiding. © Miri Rotkovitz

    Tuck the pinched ends under the loaf to help hold them together while you braid, and while the challah bakes.

    Continue to 8 of 12 below.
  • 08 of 12

    Begin to Braid Right Over Left

    RightOverLeft.JPG
    Begin the braid. © 2013 Miri Rotkovitz

    Begin to braid the challah by lifting the dough rope on the right and passing it over the center rope (the rope to the immediate left).  Now, the rope that had been on the right becomes the center rope. The original center rope is now on the right. The rope on the left has not moved.

    Continue to 9 of 12 below.
  • 09 of 12

    Continue to Braid Left Over Right

    LeftoverRight.JPG
    Passing the rope on the left over the right. © 2013 Miri Rotkovitz

    Take the dough rope on the left and pass it over the center strand (the rope to the immediate right). The rope that had been on the left is now in the center.

    Continue to 10 of 12 below.
  • 10 of 12

    Continue the Braid

    ContinuetheBraid.JPG
    Continue braiding the challah. © 2013 Miri Rotkovitz

    Continue braiding the challah by alternately placing the right rope over the center rope, then the left rope over the center rope. Try to keep the braid fairly tight as you work your way down the loaf.

    Continue to 11 of 12 below.
  • 11 of 12

    Pinch the Dough

    PinchandTucktheEnds.JPG
    Pinching the dough and tucking the ends under the braided loaf. © 2013 Miri Rotkovitz

    When you've braided all the way to the bottom of the loaf, pinch the ends of the dough ropes together, and tuck them under the loaf. This will give your challah an attractive, tapered shape, and help hold the braid together while the loaf rises and bakes.

    Continue to 12 of 12 below.
  • 12 of 12

    Cover the Challah and Let It Rise

    CovertoRise.JPG
    Covering the braided loaf before letting it rise. © 2013 Miri Rotkovitz

    Cover the braided challah loaf with a clean tea towel, and allow it to rise until doubled in size. Brush the loaf with an egg wash and bake according to recipe directions.