How to Make Challah Bread

  • 01 of 10

    Prepare Ingredients

    Challah Loaves with Poppy Seeds
    Challah Loaves with Poppy Seeds. Giora Shimoni
    Set out a large, parve bowl and the following ingredients:
    • 5 pounds (2.25 kilo) all-purpose white flour
    • 2 cups sugar
    • 2 Tbsp. salt
    • 4 Tbsp. instant dry yeast
    • 1 cup canola oil
    • 2-3 cups water
    Continue to 2 of 10 below.
  • 02 of 10

    Sift Flour

    Sift Flour for Challah
    Sift Flour for Challah. Giora Shimoni
    In a large mixing bowl, sift 5 pounds (22 cups or 2.25 kilo) all-purpose white flour. Jewish Dietary Laws require that bugs be removed from food for it to be kosher. In Israel, the flour must be sifted for it to be kosher. In other countries, it is best to ask a local rabbi if the flour needs to be sifted. In addition to making the flour kosher, sifting also makes the flour light.
    Continue to 3 of 10 below.
  • 03 of 10

    Add Sugar and Salt

    Add Dry Ingredients
    Add Dry Ingredients. Giora Shimoni
    Add dry ingredients - 2 cups sugar and 2 Tbsp. salt - to the flour. For sweeter challah bread, add more sugar.
    Continue to 4 of 10 below.
  • 04 of 10

    Add Yeast

    Add Yeast
    Add Yeast. Giora Shimoni
    Add 4 Tablespoons instant dry yeast. I find it easiest to use dry yeast, which I store in my refrigerator. If you prefer to work with fresh yeast, then you'll need 100 grams of fresh yeast (preferably in cube form) for this recipe. For the fresh yeast, mix 1 cup of tap water with 1/2 cup boiling water. Add 2 Tbsp. sugar. Add yeast. Cover and wait 10 minutes. The yeast should bubble. If the yeast does not bubble, then you should try again with other yeast. Which yeast you use, add the yeast...MORE to the dry ingredients and mix.
    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Add Oil and Water

    Add Oil and Water
    Add Oil and Water. Giora Shimoni
    Add 1 cup oil. Then add 5-6 cups water, adjusting the amount as needed. When the dough is smooth, soft, and flexible, you've added enough water. If the dough is sticky, then you've added too much water and you need to add some flour.
    Continue to 6 of 10 below.
  • 06 of 10

    Knead the Dough

    Knead the dough
    Knead the dough. Giora Shimoni

    While you can use an electric mixer with a dough hook to mix the dough, you can also simply use your hands. My friend Hazel likes to say knead her challah dough in silence, reciting prayers for her children, husband, family, friends, soldiers and others she knows are in need of prayers. When kneading by hand, Tamar Ansh, author of A Taste of Challah, suggests greasing hands with oil. Ansh says not to use flour, as flour dries the dough.

    At this point, bless, separate and discard a small piece of...MORE dough in remembrance of the gifts of bread given to the Jewish priest (Kohen) in ancient times. See how to separate challah.

    Continue to 7 of 10 below.
  • 07 of 10

    Allow the Dough to Rise

    Allow Dough to Rise
    Allow Dough to Rise. Giora Shimoni
    Cover the dough in the bowl with a towel, and let rise for 10 minutes. Knead the dough in the bowl for a few minutes. Then cover the dough in the bowl again and let rise for 10 more minutes.

    With hands lightly greased in oil, remove the dough from the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise for an hour.

    With hands lightly greased in oil, punch down the dough. Punching down releases trapped gasses and enables ideal rising of the shaped loaves. Knead and punch for a few more minutes.
    Continue to 8 of 10 below.
  • 08 of 10

    Shaping Strands

    Shaping Strands for Braiding Challot
    Shaping Strands for Braiding Challot. Giora Shimoni
    For nicely shaped challah loaves, roll out each strand used in the braid. First, break off a chunk of dough. Roll it out with a rolling pin. Then roll into a long log. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise for 5 minutes. Before using the strand in the braid, gently roll out each strand again, making each one a bit longer.
    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Braid Challah Loaves

    Braided Challah
    Braided Challah. Giora Shimoni
    Use the strands to braid a challah loaf. If rolls are preferred, you can take one strand and tie it in a knot (as in photo).

    Line cookie sheets, baking trays or loaf pans with parchment paper. Place shaped challah on parchment paper.

    Gently brush the tops of the loaves with an egg yolk mixed with a drop of water. Tamar Ansh suggests making an egg glaze consisting of 2 whole eggs, 1 egg yolk, and 1 teaspoon oil.
    Continue to 10 of 10 below.
  • 10 of 10

    Bake Challah

    Challah Loaves with Poppy Seeds
    Challah Loaves with Poppy Seeds. Giora Shimoni
    Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (190 degrees Celsius).

    Baking time depends on the size of the loaves. According to Tamar Ansh, large challahs generally need 25-30 minutes total baking time, while smaller challahs or rolls need only about 20 minutes total baking time.

    Bake the challah at 375 degrees Fahrenheit (190 degrees Celsius) for 10 to 20 minutes, or until the challah starts to turn brown. Then turn the oven down to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius). Bake the challah 350...MORE degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius) for 10-20 more minutes, or until the challah bottoms are browned.
    * The secret to knowing when the challah is done lies in the challah bottom, which should be firm and brown.