This Braided Challah Bread looks so impressive, but it's super easy to make. It's also absolutely delicious with a gorgeous crust and a fluffy, rich center. It's gonna be awesome.
Store bought bread is always on my gratitude list. Though I do occasionally love to make and eat a loaf of homemade bread, I could never do it every day. I will just always be a person who buys sliced sandwich bread from the grocery store or picks up a loaf of sourdough from the bakery on the way home if I really need it. I'm used to store bought bread, and I'm perfectly happy with it.
That being said, there is something really special about baking your own loaf. The magic of a pile of powders, one of which is alive, and a bit of water coming together and undergoing a truly alchemical process to become a deeply delicious loaf of bread is so awesome. Nothing compares to eating bread fresh out of the oven with real salted butter and maybe a drizzle of honey. It's a special treat I'll always cherish.
What makes Braided Challah Bread so awesome?
Challah is enriched with eggs and lightly sweetened with a bit of honey, giving it a deep golden color and a tender interior. The outside of the loaf is also brushed with an egg wash to make it gleam. The contrast between crust and bread is just gorgeous. This recipe also makes a massive loaf, so it's perfect for a sabbat feast. There will be plenty to go around.
Use this bread for dipping into soups or stews or for sopping up juices from a particularly delicious dinner. It's also absolutely delicious the next day as French toast. You could also tear it into chunks for bread pudding, either savoury or sweet. I'll happily just sit down and eat a slice with butter and maybe a drizzle of honey or a smear of Nutella. It's delicious.
Make it magical
Many of us today think of Challah as an eggy braided loaf, but the term actually originated as the bread that was set aside as an offering to local Jewish priests. The word can also be used to refer to any bread used in Jewish rituals. Traditional loaves had 12 humps to represent the 12 tribes of Israel. (Source: Modernist Bread)
As modern witches, we may want to incoporate some of the Jewish tradition (if that's appropriate for you) or use the braided shape of the bread as a form of knot magic. With each cross and weave of the dough, you can infuse your intention into the bread. It is then strengthened and solidified as the bread bakes. Then, each person who eats the bread will take in that intention as they eat.
For more on the magical properties of the specific ingredients in this recipe, check the Kitchen Magick page.
Here's everything you'll need to make this recipe. All the details are in the recipe card below.
- Flour - bread flour or strong flour
- Yeast - I use packets of instant yeast
- Water - lukewarm
- Vegetable oil - any neutral flavor oil, such as sunflower oil
Tips for making Braided Challah Bread
Baking yeasted bread can always seem a bit intimidating, but a braided loaf can be even scarier. I did not think it would be this easy. This recipe originates from The Great British Book of Baking, so it's designed for home bakers. If I can do it, you definitely can.
If you have a stand mixer, let it handle all the work and most of the mess. You'll start by mixing your dry ingredients, then add the water, eggs, honey, and oil, and mix until combined. Keep an eye on the moisture level and add a bit more water or a bit more flour as needed. Use your machine or your hands to knead the dough until smooth. Then let it rise until doubled, about an hour and a half.
Here comes the fun part. Turn your dough out onto a floured surface and divide it into 4 roughly equal pieces. Then roll these out into thick ropes, approximately 40 centimeters long. I'm terrible at making things evenly sized, but this loaf is very forgiving. Don't worry about getting it perfect.
How to braid your challah
When you have your four ropes of dough, you'll pinch them all together at the top to start braiding. This is a rope braid, so it's over two, under one. You'll take your outside rope over the first two ropes, then back under one rope. Repeat this from the other side, and keep going until you get to the end of your dough. Pinch the finished ends together, tuck the ends under, and let your braided dough rise again on a baking sheet for about 45 minutes.
Then we're gonna just give it a little egg wash, brushing it with beaten egg before popping it in the oven. It'll bake for about 10 minutes at 425 F (220 C), then you'll turn the heat down to 375/190 and let it bake for another half hour. It will be deeply golden on the outside and have that familiar hollow sound. Let it cool most of the way before slicing and eat. Fresh warm bread is the absolute best!
Beyond it's beautiful shape, challah is enriched with beaten eggs, where as a typical bread is just flour salt, yeast, and water. It's also lightly sweetened with honey.
This Braided Challah Bread is as delicious as it is gorgeous. I hope you give it a try. You can definitely do this.Print
Braided Challah Bread
- Prep Time: 30
- Rising time: 2 hours 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 40
- Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
- Yield: 1 loaf 1x
- Category: Baked Goods
- Method: Baked
- Cuisine: Jewish
- Diet: Vegetarian
- 700 grams strong white bread flour
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 packet (7 grams) instant yeast
- 250 ml water, lukewarm
- 4 eggs, divided, beaten
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 100 ml vegetable oil
- Add the flour, salt, and yeast to the bowl of your stand mixer or a large mixing bowl and gently mix to combine.
- In a separate bowl or measuring jug, combine the warm water, 3 eggs, honey, and oil. Whisk to combine.
- With the mixer running on its lowest setting, slowly drizzle in the wet ingredients. Once it's all come together, turn the mixer up to medium low and let the dough hook knead the dough until smooth. You may need to add a bit more flour if the dough is too sticky or a bit more water if it's too dry. It will vary based on the brand of flour, the size of your eggs, and even the weather. Kneading should take about 4 minutes in the machine, 10 if you're doing it by hand. Once it's smooth, cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave to rise for about an hour and a half.
- When your dough is about double in size, turn it out onto a floured surface and use a knife or bench scraper to divide it into 4 roughly equal pieces. Then roll each of those pieces into a thick rope, about 40 centimeters long. Pinch the tops of each rope together and fan out the ropes so you can braid them. Lift the outside rope on one side over the next two ropes, then go backwards and tuck it under the first inside rope. Repeat from the other side, and continue braiding until you've woven together all your dough. Tuck the ends under and place your braided dough on a baking sheet. Let it rise again for about 45 minutes.
- About halfway through your rise time, start pre-heating your oven to 425 F (220 C).
- When you're ready to bake, beat your final egg and use a pastry brush to coat your dough with egg. Then bake it for 10 minutes before reducing the heat to 375 F (190 C) and bake for another 30 minutes. Your loaf will be deep golden brown and have a hollow sound when tapped on the bottom.
- Cool the loaf on a wire rack. Store any leftovers wrapped in foil.
Keywords: braided challah bread