Challah is the traditional Jewish bread that’s usually baked for Sabbath. Even if you don’t celebrate it in your home, you can make your Saturday special by taking some time off emails and notifications on screens and roll up your sleeves to bake this beautiful bread from scratch. Try it and you will see – creating the braided pattern is a meditation on it’s own.
Here’s what we'll need for this recipe:
- 250 ml warm water (around 36℃)
- 7 g dry yeast (or 20 g fresh)
- 65 g sugar
- 60 ml oil (sunflower, canola or olive)
- 3 eggs
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 550 g flour
- 2 tablespoons of sea salt flakes for sprinkling
Let’s get going, shall we...
1. Put the yeast in a big bowl, add one tablespoon of sugar and warm water and stir everything together. Let it sit for 10 minutes until the mixture starts bubbling.
2. Add salt, the remaining sugar, two eggs and oil into the yeast mixture and stir everything together. Continue mixing by hand or with an electric mixer until the dough becomes smooth and stretchy.
3. Roll the dough into a ball and place into an oil-covered bowl. Smooth a little oil on a piece of cling wrap and cover the bowl with it. Leave the bowl in the fridge for 10 to 12 hours. It’s best to prepare the dough in the evening and leave it in the fridge overnight, so you can continue baking in the morning.
4. Once 10 to 12 hours have passed, remove the dough from the fridge and let it sit in room temperature for 45-60 minutes. Then move the bowl to a warmer place and leave it there to rise for 1,5 hour. The dough should double in size.
5. When the dough will rise completely, knead it down and shape it into a ball again. Place it into an oil-covered bowl. Let it rise for an additional 1,5 hour.
6. Once the dough has doubled in size again, knead it down one more time and split it into 3 equal parts (for one big braid) or 6 parts (for two smaller braids). Roll each part into a strand – 40 cm long if you’re making a 3-part braid and 20 cm long if you’ll make two smaller braids. Braid the strands without pressing on them too much. Fold the ends of the braids down and move the braids onto the baking pan covered with parchment paper.
7. Whisk one egg with a little bit of water and brush the braids with it. Cover the Challah loafs with a clean linen towel and let them sit and rise some more for another 45-60 minutes
8. Preheat the oven to 180℃. Brush the puffed loafs with egg mixture once again and sprinkle them with sea salt flakes.
9. Bake the Challah loafs in a hot oven for about 35 minutes. Once they’re done, place them to cool down.
The Challah bread will definitely become the centrepiece of your Saturday dinner table. Gather your family and friends around, break it, share it and enjoy it.