The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Challah Bread

sonofYah's picture

Challah Bread

I adopted this recipe from my bread machine manual.

2 eggs at room temperature, plus enough water to equal 1-1/2 cups

1/4 cup Olive Oil

2 Tbs. Sugar

2 tsp. salt (I use 2-1/2 tsp. Kosher salt for the flavor)

2 cups whole wheat flour (I use Gold Medal 'Better for Bread' whole wheat flour)

2-1/2 cups bread flour

1-1/2 tsp instant yeast

Poppy seeds if desired

Put on dough cycle. Remove from bread pan. Fold. Let rest 15 minutes. Cut into three equal ropes. Roll out gently to about 14 in. Braid. Brush with egg wash. Let rise about 1 hour. Brush again with egg wash and sprinkle with poppy seeds, if desired.

Bake at 400 degrees F. for about 10 minutes. Turn oven back to 350 and finish baking. (approximately 20-25 minutes)

Note: I usually beat my two eggs and add about a tablespoon of water and mix. Then I pour out about 1/4 cup for the egg wash. Then I top off with the rest of the water.

This can be made by hand or mixer as well. When I make it by hand, I make a pre-ferment with part of the egg/water mix and about half of the flour with the yeast. I let this set for about 20 minutes, covered. I add the rest of the ingredients (flour a little at a time) and knead.

Let raise for about 1 hour or until doubled. Fold, shape and let rise a second time. Continue as above.

Now that that is as clear as mud, enjoy. :-)

scarlett75's picture

Thanks for the great recipe. :) It looks easy enough for a beginner (like me) to try.

I think we will be having this bread with dinner tonight.

christilyn's picture

Thank you for posting this recipe! I made it this afternoon--it is cooling now.

One thing it rose a lot in the much so that the center of the loaf was not glazed at all. I did the egg wash after each rise. I was thinking next time that I would take it out after the 10 minutes at 400 and do another egg wash. Do you ever have this problem?

I can't wait to taste it tonight at dinner!

sonofYah's picture

You are right, it does have a lot of oven spring to it. I don't worry about it too much myself. It never lasts long enough around here at home or at Oneg to matter. Maybe when I get my dream bakery going, I will worry more. Guess it is the 'type Z' personality. :-D

Another thing you can do is to wait until you take the loaf out of the oven and then immediately give it an egg wash. There will be enough heat to 'cook' the eggs.


sjburnt's picture

He he he.  The first time I made Challah I used the Hamelman 'Bread' book recipe, which is printed on really yellow background stock.  I was too lazy to wear glasses, of course, and I neglected to read that it was supposed to be divided into two loaves...

When you say that this bread has oven spring, you are not just whistling Dixie!  The dough was incredibly tight, not relaxed at all.  I finally decided that sleep was more important than proofing, and I braided a simple three line braid, stuck it in the oven, and POOF!  I had a HUGE loaf of bread, not glazed in the middle.  It was about 14 inches w-i-d-e.

Which was still really excellent bread!  I just cut it in a herringbone fashion - thanks Fresh Loaf - and it was a huge success!

I am now inspired to go back and try again, maybe with a little better time management on my part!

Thanks, and Happy Baking!



jowilchek's picture

I made Challah last week, and like yours mine rose so much some of the braid was unglazed. Fortunately, I noticed this as it was baking and removed it from the oven and glazed it in the spots that were bare. No problem. It turned out great and beautiful.

hotbred's picture

If u have a real soft brush w long soft hair ,u can make a nice shiney wash. Its good for apple or fruit pies cakes ect. ONE SPOON apple jelly (clear) a few ozs hot water ,disolve jelly, put in micro. stir, brush on U can shine pastry cakes. the bakery uses one that dries & shines real well BUT!!! I have even used sugar water. But apple jelly tastes wounderful on pastry or apple cake coffee rings turnovers good stuff hotbred

Alpana's picture

Firstly, let me thank you for an excellent and extremely useful website. I had never made bread at home till date. After going through this site for many days,I finally gathered courage to bake my first bread, the Challah, today. And it has turned out  to be one of the most tastiest breads I have ever eaten. My otherwise fussy five year old daughter is also making a meal of it. I can't wait for my husband and son to taste it. And I have made it without bread machine, pizza stone or steam. I even applied tha glaze with hand as I did not have a pastry brush. Also, I could not braid the dough as it was too sticky, so I had to shape it into a loaf. Any suggestions  on how to braid it when its sticky? Now I plan to try baking bread at least once a week. Thanks again.  

jowilchek's picture

When working with wet doughs if you wet your hands it helps, wet dough can't stick to wet hands, but it the dough is susposed to be dryer then you need to use and work in a little more flour. All depends on what you dough is susposed to be, dry or wet.

OTRPU's picture

What I do when I have a sticky Challah dough is knead in additional flour a tablespoon atta time, kneading after each addition until I can work with the dough. I Think it would be near impossible to braid sticky dough.



hotbred's picture

  sticky dough is no problem PLEASE!  grab dough throw some flour on it! cut 2/3 off, cut that in 3 pcs  ,other 3rd cut in 3rds    grab the bigger 3 throw flower on them  take one roll it long taper it on ends  all 3 big ones rolled  NOW braid!  the next 3  the same  Braid!  NOW lay that on top of the big one u braided  now u have a good lookin bread!  the rite way is braiding 5 strands,,too hard for u  but this will look great!   sticky dough throw flour on it   it will be ok   next time check before u let it raise   hot bred

nbicomputers's picture

sugar 6 oz

salt 1 oz

oil 4 oz

egg yolks  or whole eggs and half yolks12 oz--all yolks are better

water 1 quart

yeast (cake) 4oz

hi gluten flour 4 lb 8 oz to 4 lb 12 oz depending on the flour

ex pro baker

one rise no preferment and shape proff and bake the reason no second rise is that fermentation continues while the breab is cut and shapped and when breading many loafs it takes time and a second rise would result in the last loafs getting old.

ps:in a bake shop it is more commen to use 4 and 6 pieces to bread the loaf

4 for the small bread and 6 for the large

also just as for kiser tolls in the bakery we use white rye flour for dusting the pieces to help keep them septeret and not bake toghter (blind) 

is there a way to post a video?  if there is i will make a video and show to braid a bread the way it is done in the bakerie it is quite different from tha way a home baker would do it and it is easy to do if showen but to try to tell in works head spins just to think of it.

OHMYGOSH50's picture


jowilchek's picture


Check this video out, its a good one, and there are lots more

Eli's picture

I would like to see your braiding routine. I am not very good at braiding. You could post to Youtube and then link from here to it, I think??


RFMonaco's picture

...has been missing from here for a week and a half. Can't get to him from his site  or email either. Hope he is ok. :-(

hhall's picture


I make Challah frequently and the easiest way I find to braid the 4 strand Challah is by sectioning the dough into 4, fat  in the middle (Like a snake that just ate) strands laid out horizontally within an inch of each other. Then grab the one closest to you and go over the next (second) and under the third and over the fourth. So basically, it's one over, one under, one over, one under. Just repeat this until the whole loaf is braided. Its really not hard. The six strand can be a little trickier but if I recall correctly, its two over , one under, two over, one under...

Hope this helps!

PS. My recipe for (Bread machine) Challah is

1/2 cup oil or softened butter

1/2 cup sugar

1 whole egg, plus one egg yolk

3 drops yellow vegetable dye

1 tsp. vanilla

3 tsp. salt

4 cups (or so) white bread flour

2 1/2 tsp yeast.

I let this mix in the bread machine, later, after the intial mix is completed I sometimes add the rind of one small orange grated and a generous 1/2 cup dried cranberries.

Rise until doubled. Punch down, divide into strands, braid, place on well oiled sheet, cover, allow to rise again, egg wash and drop in oven for 45-55 minutes at 335 degrees. Watch closely because this one can burn on the bottom quite easily.

sharsilber's picture

This has been a big hit thanks to many tricks I have learned from my new friends here at the Fresh Loaf.

Pumpkin ChallahPumpkin Challah 


rubato456's picture

i do love pumpkin challah! i just made a double batch of sweet potato challah and mailed one to my mother. can't wait for her to enjoy it.  


sharsilber's picture

I have not done sweet potato yet - but now it is on my to do list.


OHMYGOSH50's picture

i usually make 5lb batch a challah it comes out great but now i have a bigger machine and am trying to make 10lbs and its not coming out right.....could it be the amount of dry yeast ...its coming out too heavy and when i bake it the shape of the braids dont hold up   pleaseee help i am very fustrated

cookie65's picture

if you scale the 5 lb dough by weight then double it.  its always best to use weights instead of cups and spoons it aids in scaling up and down. the gluten development will be different as well more or less time, depends on machine. larger batches tend to need less time mixing.  try folding the dough after an hour fermentation, rest another hour then bench it.  rest 20-30 min then shape proof and bake.

Irrestinctus's picture

when I was in college, our bakery did a 5-strand Challah. I always loved doing braid races with the other baker.

Beachbaker's picture

Made several challah loaves, but the very best was recipe from Bread Bible.  Beautiful loaf and incredible taste.  Beranbaum's illustrations helped this newbie do a step by step 4-braid!  I'd post a pix but we ate it already.

mezalkb's picture

My family loves a vanilla challah that I make.  I use a vanilla bean or vanilla bean paste and then give it a vanilla egg glaze.  So good!

butterflygrooves's picture

This was my first attempt at making Challah, I've never even eaten it before!

The braiding is obviously done wrong but that doesn't change the fact that this bread is very moist and eggy, delicious!

spa27's picture

Hi there!

Your challah looks eggy and light -- all in all wonderful.  Is there any chance that you would be willing to share your recipe?  Your crumb seems much lighter than mine.  Thanks!

theavidbaker's picture

My go to recipe is King Arthur Flour's rendition.  It's a snap to make and uses a quick starter to add some depth to the bread.


Cheers and Happy Baking!

Janknitz's picture

I think I found the secret to a nice, even glaze on my challahs, even with good oven spring.  I think it has to do with the direction the gluten fibers are going when you form the ropes before braiding. 

That's my theory, anyway. ;o)

I found that if I simply take a hunk of dough and stretch it into a rope shape and then roll it to get it evened out and more length, I will have a problem with  the direction these ropes expand when baked--that's what leads to the unglazed part.

Instead, I have learned to (gently) flatten out a ball of dough and roll it up and pinch the seam--baguette style.  Then roll this "mini baguette" for length.  Using this method seems to align all the gluten strands in the same direction, and they expand more evenly during oven spring.  I don't cover the braided loaves during the last fermentation, and perhaps the "skin" helps contain some of that expansion as well. 

I also glaze with egg wash immediately after braiding, and then again after the final rise before baking.   I am getting lovely, evenly glazed challahs these days--I feel like a professional (NOT!).

My current favorite formula is King Arthur Flour's "Classic Challah".  It's got just the right balance of sweet and savory flavors, and it's lovely dough to work with. 

theavidbaker's picture

I decided to give Peter Reinhart's Challah recipe a go and parted ways (for once!) from my tried, tested, and true KAF recipe.

I was not disappointed :)

 The dough was very easy to work with.  Braiding the silky strands were a snap.

I ended up a soft and fluffy crumb.  Its delicate sweetness complimented savoury and sweet items well.  When it came out of the oven, the aroma permeated our home and made our mouths salivate.  It was a vision of beauty with its bronzed exterior and bountiful hilly braids.  This bread did not last long in our home!

Should you wish to see the recipe and pictures, please visit my blog:


Cheers and Happy Baking!


Broc's picture

Thanks -- all -- for posting!


Suggestion -- substitute honey for sugar.  I follow a basic recipe by Peter Reinhart, and have tweaked it to my likes and oven.

10 eggs

4+ oz honey

1 stick butter [!]

34 oz bread flour

6 oz very hot water

as much milk as possible

1 oz sea salt

3/4 oz real vanilla extract

your yeast of choice

I use a plastic 8 qt rising bin

And, you need one refridgerator, with space to hold the dough for two days


Dissolve the honey in the very hot water. then add whole milk until the temp of the mixture drops to 105F [or thereabouts].  Add yeast and stir it in.

Separately, combine very soft butter, eggs and vanilla.

When the yeast is ready, bring the wet team together in the [KA] mixer.  Add the flour, using the paddle.  Add milk or flour as needed to get the right consistency for Peter Reinhart teachnique... I usually end up adding milk.

Mix on LO for 2 minutes.

Rest covered for 10 minutes.

Change to hook.  Mix on Medium for an additional 4 minutes.

Tun out -- stretch and fold.  Repeat in ten minutes.

Stash in well oiled covered 8-qt bowl IN THE FRIDGE for 2 days.  Expect the dough to triple in size in the container, so be prepared to deflate the dough in about 12 hours.

On bake day -- turn out and divide.  I usually weight out portions of 7 or 8 oz.  Depending on how many portions I have, I turn each portion into a rope, and briad... I prefer six braid, which is really easy... not threatening at all.  Google "challah+6+braid" and several videos will come up telling you how to do this.

I end up with two large loaves, each about 2.6 lbs, and bake both at once on two separate sheets... rotating top-to-bottom and front-to-back half way through.

After about 3/4 hour, you should have a nice rise [not going to be 2x].  Paint down with egg/milk glaze.  After another 1/2 - 1 hour, glaze again just before putting the bread into the oven.  At this time, I add poppy and sesame seeds.

For my electric oven --

Preheat to 450F -- Put bread into oven quickly, trying not to lose too much heat.  After 2 minutes, drop the temp to 410F.  After 12 minutes, rotate and drop temp to 390F for another 12 minutes.

Check internal temp.  The bread is never done at this point, but I then estimate the time I need to complete the bake.  Drop temp to 350F, rotate as needed, and go for it.

It's important to pull Challah between 185F and 190F.  Never lower than 185F, but OK but be a little higher than 190F.

Honey + egg glaze = dark, mahogany color.  This isn't burnt bread, but caramelized sugar [honey] with egg.  You'll realize this as you taste it.

One last comment -- If you do a 5 braid or a 6 braid, the final loaf will be "taller" than a 3-braid or a 4-braid.

Another last comment -- Adding milk makes the crumb even, smoothe.

Happy Challahing!


~ Broc





dolcebaker's picture

I have a recipe for challah I have used for over two years and it always came out very good.  Now for some reason, I just have no luck with the fermentation.  I used to be able to make a couple loafs the same day. Now way.   I just can't figure out what can cause it not the rise.  I made other bread and the yeast worked fine, so it isn't that, the flour is the same too.  Any suggestions?

SD Farmer's picture
SD Farmer

Sorry about that title. I had to do it. I believe that Challah is the original foolproof bread... even I can do it. And boy are you right about that oven spring.


 Recipe from Beth Hensberger's "Bread book", works every time... 

Sammysmum's picture

Wonderful looking Challahs on this page. Another handy tip. Cover with tin foil for last 15 mins of baking, so tops don't get too

brown and crusty.  I love the look of the Pumpkin Challah - will give that a try. 

heavyhanded's picture

I did a three-strand braid, like so:

unbaked, braided challah


but when I checked the oven, I had this:

baked loaf, no braid!


What did I do? Would appreciate any and all advice, thanks in advance!


AbeNW11's picture
AbeNW11 (not verified)

I don't know the answer, as I've never baked challah myself, however the consensus is do not braid too tightly but do not leave any spaces either. Make your dough (have a look for a good recipe), braid it and allow it to rise then bake. I'd be interested to know how you fare with this. Best of luck.

AbeNW11's picture
AbeNW11 (not verified)

Can you tell me your recipe and method?

heavyhanded's picture

...well, lesse here, I used the first recipe on this post. I rolled out three long logs, started the braid halfway, tucked ends, turned it around, braided other half, tucked ends. I suspect I let it rise too long as I have a sad history of doing that... Painted on egg wash, dumped hot water into steamer pan in oven, baked. It tasted just fine, but did look a lot like a big ole slug.

Thanks for your attention and help, btw! I want to learn to braid, I've tried it since and same thing happened (it was a potato bread this time).

kenlklaser's picture

I happened to run across a challah formula just the other day, and have been reading raves for so many years about folks' own challah recipes, I thought I might try making some.  I also thought to myself, "Oh, don't forget to check's formula!"  So, I came here, and not even one baker's percentage!  Well, I don't mind, I'm gonna fix that, hope you don't mind....

Here's Wikibooks challah formula, their version as of earlier today, so at least there is one in baker's percentages here at this site.  I can't say whether this formula is any good or not, I haven't tried it yet, but I was looking at it, and thinking I might like to try it, and that means I tend to study a lot of formulas when making my own, provided multiple formulas are available.  I've inserted some ingredients mentioned either by other authors, or from the Wikipedia article about challah, but there are no values provided.


Wikibooks (November 12, 2014) 
high gluten flour 
bread flour100.00%The most common flour to use, though flour mixes are used by some.
whole wheat 
egg yolks 
malt syrup 
dry yeast2.19% Too high.  Reduce to at least 1%.
fresh yeast 
instant yeast 
sesamee seeds (topping)
poppy seeds (topping)

Does anyone who knows anything about challah have any comments or criticisms of the above total formula?  The only major flaw in it that I can perceive is far too much yeast, but it can be reduced, as well as substituted per ratios with another yeast type. Of four formulas I've checked, Reinhart uses the least.  If you reduce the Wikibooks "dry yeast" to 1% "active dry yeast", you'll have slightly less yeast than Reinhart's formula, though he uses "instant dry yeast", which is not a 1:1 substitution per equivalent fermentation-time period, his number appears lower.  The basic rule is, the less yeast you use, the longer the fermentation period will be, and one benefit is a reduced yeast flavor.  Hamelman likes to use 1/3 high-gluten flour, perhaps making his a little chewier, and sturdier, perhaps better for spreading and holding toppings.  Gisslen eschews egg whites entirely, and massively increases egg yolks, so his is likely the most yellow, and via my own experience, this should give less of a dryness taste perception, but it may decrease rise somewhat, and increases cost.  Both Hamelman and Reinhart supplement whole eggs with additional egg yolks, thus the Wikibooks formula will be lighter colored or less yellow than the others.  While it appears the Wikibooks recipe has the most water, it is unfortunately not as simple as that, there are water fractions in egg whites, and some in yolks (as well as fat in yolks), and I haven't yet done enough analysis of the three other authors' formulas to normalize them to "flour, water, and fat" levels.  However, this particular Wikibooks recipe is, except for the excessive yeast, sort of "normal".

Anyway, enjoy.