Everyone loves challah, but homemade challah is extra good. Once you make this simple recipe, you will be hooked and your family will never let you bring home store-bought challah again! Challah really is a magical bread, so make a little magic and share it with your family and friends.
Challah loaves are good for one week, after which you can make the most amazing challah French toast.
First, gather your ingredients:
1 1/2 cups plus 3 tbsp sugar
4 cups water
4 tbsp yeast
5 lbs whole wheat flour
5 1/4 tsp salt
3 large eggs, plus 1 for egg wash
1 cup olive oil
1/4 cup raisins, optional
1 tbsp honey
sesame seeds or poppy seeds, optional
Next, follow these instructions:
1. In a measuring cup or a glass, mix 3 tbsp sugar into 2 cups hot tap water. Sprinkle yeast on top and stir gently. Let the mixture rest for 5-10 minutes, until the yeast foams and you see bubbles.
2. Meanwhile, combine flour, remaining sugar, and salt in a very large mixing bowl.
3. Add the yeast mixture, oil, eggs and remaining water.
4. Mix in the bowl until the ingredients form a sticky dough.
5. Either by hand or using a mixer, knead dough for 8-12 minutes. If using a mixer, watch for elasticity as kneading times may vary.
6. Place the dough back into the large bowl, cover with plastic wrap or kitchen towels and allow to rise for 1 hour. Punch down and allow to rise for another hour, if desired.
7. Before braiding, rip off piece of the dough, wrap it in foil, say the bracha and throw it into the oven as an offering. Punch down the dough and place on a lightly floured surface.
8. Divide dough into 3-5 loaves, then divide each section into three ropes. Roll out ropes to approximately the same length.
9. If using raisins, press raisins into ropes and pinch dough over raisins.
10. Begin braiding from the center of the ropes, by crossing one rope over the other and under the third.
11. Braid all the way to the end, then braid from the other end. Try not to stretch out the ropes too much.
12. Tuck the ends of the braids under the loaf. Repeat with the rest of the loaves until the dough is all used. Loosely cover braids and allow to rise for 1 hour.
13. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Beat remaining egg with honey to make egg wash.
14. Generously brush braids with egg wash. Sprinkle with sesame seeds or poppy seeds, if desired.
15. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a golden brown crust has formed. Cool and enjoy!
Watch this video to learn how to braid a circular challah for Rosh Hashanah.
Check out this other recipe with GIFs: