The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

First loaf of bread: Challah

Haley's picture

First loaf of bread: Challah

The other day, I tried making bread for the first time. I chose Challah. It looked so delicious. Was this a bad choice for a first timer??? I have no clue about what breads are harder to make than others. My husband and I were left with a flat, dense braided loaf of solid dough.

Today...I tried it again...I just got up and checked my second loaf...and it didnt turn out. Ugh. That's frustrating.

I might try this method out:



TeaIV's picture

when I got started, I tried Challa many times, and failed them all... I say, go through the lessons on this site, and once you get a good foothold on baking, try the challah. also, I suggest to try different recipes on here.


Good luck!


arzajac's picture

I don't think it's a bad choice at all.  It's one of the fist kinds of bread that I ever made.  I made it regularly for years before being able to even make a decent pizza.  The thing with egg-breads are that you don't have to fuss with shaping the loaf as a regular bread - you roll it out and braid it and your final shape will look nice.

It sounds like your yeast didn't do its job.  How much yeast did you use, and did the dough rise properly?  Once you shaped it, how long did you let it rise before baking it?

To check your yeast, put it in a glass of leukwarm water with a pinch of sugar.  Let it sit for 10 minutes or so - it should become frothy if it's alive.  It should become very active and form a nice foam over the next 20 minutes or so.

OliviaBakesBread's picture

I'm thinking it might be the dough didn't rise enough, or perhaps punched down too much after the 1st rising - don't give up!  The beauty of it is, you're at home & have an online Master Bread Baker for help!  The end result will be worth the trial and error.  Happy Baking!

Marni's picture

Challah is not a bad first choice.  The folks above both have some good pointers. Keep trying and Good luck!

Janknitz's picture

don't try it with Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day dough!  That dough is very wet (high hydration level) and is difficult to braid.  You will tear your hair out trying to braid it if you are not experienced with that kind of dough.  However, if you want to try just a free form loaf (they call it a "boule") or put the dough in a bead pan with AB in 5 dough, you should have great results. 

The easiest dough I have EVER worked with is the dough for Alton Brown's pretzels which you can find here:  BUT don't make pretzels from it.  Gently deflate it after the first rise, roll it into a log, put it in a loaf pan, let it rise until the dough is at the top edge of the loaf pan,  and bake it.  It is extremely easy to make and to shape, but watch the rising times closely because it is a very active dough. 

The secret to learning to bake bread is to understand what the dough is supposed to be like at the end of the kneading (if the recipe calls for kneading).  If your ingredients are good, the Alton Brown Pretzel Dough recipe will easily  become smooth and elastic with simple kneading.  I think there is a link on the site above that will send you to videos of him making the pretzels and you can see what it is like.  I've had good results recommending this recipe to beginners.