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Best ever challah!

Best Ever Challah

  • Author: Betty
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Proof Time: 2 to 3 hours
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour plus proof time

Ingredients

Units Scale

Dough:

  • 4 1/2 teaspoons (2 packets 1/4 oz each) active or instant dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (105 to 115F/40 to 46C)
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 6 to 7 cups bread flour

Egg wash: 1 egg lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon water

Toppings: sesame seeds, black sesame seeds, or poppy seeds

Sweet crumb topping:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 Tbsp butter, softened


Instructions

  1. If you are using active dry yeast, pour the yeast and ¼ cup warm water into a small bowl and let dissolve. Set aside for 10 minutes to proof and thicken. If you are using instant dry yeast, you will add it in step 3.
  2. Tip the sugar, honey, oil, and salt into a large mixing bowl. Pour in the water and stir to dissolve the sugar and salt.
  3. Add the yeast mixture or the yeast and the 3 beaten eggs to the sugar and oil mixture. Whisk everything together. Start adding the flour, one cup at a time, stirring with a large spoon after each addition. Gauge the stickiness of the dough after each cup of flour is added. You may need barely 6 cups or closer to 7 depending on how your flour absorbs the liquids. Yeasted dough has a mind of its own and is never the same every time you make a recipe. 
  4. Knead the dough on a flat surface for 5 to 10 minutes, until it is no longer sticky and the surface feels smooth and elastic. 
  5. Lightly oil the large mixing bowl and place the dough in it, turning to coat it in oil. Cover and let the dough rise in a warm place for 1 hour.
  6. Divide the dough into either 2 or 3 equal pieces. These will make either 2 large challahs or 3 medium-sized ones.
  7. Take one of the pieces and divide it into three pieces. Roll each piece into a rope, then braid them together. Repeat with the other dough. Place the loaves on separate baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Allow to rise for 45-ish minutes.
  8. Preheat the oven to 350F/176C. Move the oven racks to the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Brush the loaves with the egg wash and add the toppings.
  9. To make the sweet crumb topping, rub the flour, sugar, and butter together using your fingertips to form coarse crumbs. Pat the crumbs on top of the egg-washed loaf. 
  10. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until deep golden brown. The bread should sound hollow when tapped and read 190F/88C when tested with a thermometer. Place on a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes before slicing.
  11. Baked loaves can be wrapped in plastic, placed in a Ziploc bag, and frozen for 3 months. Thaw at room temp before serving.

Keywords: best ever challah