How to Make Homemade Challah Bread

Two reasons led me to make this challah bread a few weeks ago. I decided to make Challah for the bread baking day we are hosting, and I also wanted to test out making Challah with my mom for the upcoming Jewish high holidays.

If you don’t know, Challah is a traditional Jewish egg bread eaten during holidays and on Sabbaths. It is delicious and makes incredible French toast. I decided to use The Bread Cook Book recipe for my first Challah. Our experience with other recipes has been very positive, and I particularly like the way the book is laid out when making something for the first time.

As the recipe is long and I don’t feel like typing it up, I am not going to post it. If you are interested in bread baking, I recommend buying this book or finding the recipe by doing a Google book search. The recipe for Challah is included in the preview.

It was my first time making braided bread, and I was pretty pleased with the result. It was a bit bland for my taste, but I think it needed some more salt and a little seasoning for a more complex flavor. In making more challahs for the Jewish holidays, I will do both of these, and I intend to make a version with raisins. You’ll find some pictures and instructions on how to braid bread after the jump.

It is not overly complicated and takes no time at all to follow this bread recipe. Although I did have a tough time with the braiding, I was able to figure it out in the end. Although the recipe includes a picture tutorial, I had to watch it being done on YouTube before I could do it myself.

I watched the following video:

Here’s my bread that passed the windowpane test (the dough stretches to this state without tearing). You got an A+, challah dough.

These are my six dough balls that will become two loaves of Challah after all the proofing and resting:

The strips are now rolled and braided. The dough tends to pull back after you stretch it, so rolling it out into long strips can be a bit frustrating. This trick is to allow that to happen, rest, and return to it. You will eventually be able to get the length you want when it cooperates better. It is similar to stretching homemade pretzels.

Let’s move on to braiding. Start by laying out your strips. Start with the middle strip, then lay the right strip over it, as shown:

Overlap the left strip with the middle strip. It is important to remember that you are only braiding over the center strip for a three braid, and the “middle” strip will change as you progress through the braiding process. I went to YouTube for clarification on this point because I was confused. I attempted to braid one strip over two strips, but this is incorrect. Never lay two strips over one another, always one over the other. It makes sense to my brain, although that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. I hope this makes sense and is helpful.

The process of braiding becomes so easy and enjoyable as soon as you master it:

After braiding the other side of your loaf, you’ll need to flip it over. Following the directions in the video, I picked up the Challah from the finished end and flipped it over. The bottom side was now the top.

Here are my two unbaked loaves:

Out of the oven. The bread could have been browner. Next time, I will do another egg wash glaze in the middle of baking to get into the white parts that open up during baking.

For breakfast the following day, we made French toast with it. How could we not?

It was delicious, good enough to justify bacon. At our house, bacon is a special occasion.

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