Nana’s Challah

There is something very zen and therapy-like about baking bread. Watching the ingredients bubble, patiently waiting for the dough to rise, the kneading and braiding…. we love it all. We don’t bake very often, but every time we do, it is such an enjoyable experience. For our readers that don’t know, challah is an egg bread. It’s a fluffy and rich dough that is traditionally braided before baking. Overachievers can braid it in a multitude of ways, but an old fashioned three strand braid is a great introduction to making challah. 

Recipes like this are great to have in your back pocket. You can gift a loaf has a hostess gift over the holidays, make stupidly delicious sandwiches with it, and turn it into decadent french toast (recipe coming soon!) We wanted to include it in our Hanukkah menu for anyone who celebrates and needs a go-to recipe, particularly for nights when Hanukkah falls on Shabbat. 

Challah 
Makes: 1 very large challah or 2 medium challahs 
Prep Time: 15 minutes   Inactive Time: 3 hours   Total Time: 4 hours 

Ingredients:

  • 3 packages dry yeast
  • ½ cup warm water 
  • 1 tbs sugar 
  • 8 cups  flour 
  • 2/3 cup oil
  • 2 tbs coarse salt 
  • 4 eggs 
  • 2 ½ cups luke warm water
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp water 
  • Garnish poppy or sesame seeds 

Directions: 

  1. Combine ½ cup warm water, yeast, and sugar in a small cup.
  2. Make a well into center of flour in a large bowl. Add yeast mixture. Let stand until bubbly. Add eggs, oil, salt, and sugar into yeast. Mix together with a bread hook, gradually adding water.
  3. Knead until smooth and satiny. Let rise one hour covered in a greased bowl in a warm place (warmed but off oven) covered with a towel or cheesecloth. 
  4. Knead again and let rise until it’s doubled in size (approximately one hour). 
  5. Punch down and divide into four equal portions. 
  6. Take three sections and roll each piece into a rope. Braid the three to create a thick braid. 
  7. Take the fourth section and divide into three equal portions. Roll each into a rope and braid, creating a 1/3-size braid of the first. 
  8. Place little braid on top of the big braid.
  9. Place on a greased cookie sheet, cover, and let double again (about an hour). 
  10. Combine beaten egg with water and egg wash challah twice. 
  11. Sprinkle with seeds and bake at 350 degrees for 15 min, then 325 for 20 min. 
  12. To see if it is done, tap on the bottom. It will sound hollow. 

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