Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Basic Challah Recipe #1 - with honey

The Hazz and I have several base recipes for challah. The one we've found thus far to be MOST successful in our household (Midwestern Winters can make yeast and flour do funny things).

1 1/4 c water
1 tbsp active dry or instant yeast
3 tbsp honey
3 eggs + 1 egg for wash
1/2 c neutral oil (we use canola, but vegetable is fine)
6 c bread flour
2 tsp salt
sesame or poppy seeds or cinnamon sugar for topping (optional)

Place very warm (but not hot, I usually let me faucet run for a bit) water in mixing bowl.  Add yeast and honey, mixing lightly. 
Allow to sit for 10 minutes or so... I usually do less... until you see little eruptions.
Add eggs and vegetable oil and mix with wood spoon.  
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If you have a stand mixer, add flour and salt and beat with dough hook.  Remember: salt kills yeast. Don't put the salt in with the yeast.  Wait until you've added some of the flour.
If the dough is not holding together as a ball, add a bit more oil or water.  If the dough is very sticky, add more flour.  The dough is ready when it sticks together as a ball and is not sticky to the touch when you poke your finger in (5-10 minutes of beating).  Turn the ball out onto a floured work surface and punch a few times until very smooth.
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Place in oiled bowl and cover in plastic wrap or a towel.

Allow to rise at least one hour, preferrably more, until dough has doubled in size.  I only do one rise as a ball, but you can do more.  I'm not convinced it does much to the texture but some people swear by it.

Punch down the ball in the bowl and remove.  Punch out all air bubbles.  Braid in your preferred method.  Allow to rise 20-30 minutes. Top with an egg wash (I use the yolk and white) and sesame or poppy seeds if you like.
Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.  (You can read about my oven temperature methods here... basically I put it at 375 for 5 minutes.  Then I turn the heat down to 350 and bake for 10 more minutes.  Then I rotate the pans 180 degrees and bake between 10 and 15 more minutes.)  You can use a bread thermometer (180-200 degrees) or poke at the seams.  If they seem doughy, give it more time.  You can always add foil if the top seems like its browning too fast.  I often have to foil five- and six-stranded challot because they're so much fatter.
Enjoy!  (It's always hard for us to wait for Shabbat before we dive into our challah!) basic_12


  1. Love your blog! This looks very similar to my go-to family recipe, but it has a bit more oil in it. I've been looking to experiment with new recipes because my usual one makes challah that is not very moist the next day - it's great at dinner but not so much at lunch. What's the secret to challah that stays moist overnight?

  2. Thanks! Honestly, I think it might be the oil that helps the challah stay moist overnight. We wrap in foil as well, so that's another thing you could try if you're using bags. I've actually found that my full batch seems quite heavy in the summer and have been toying with cutting BACK on the oil in the summer if the AC is not on. The half batch version is also great though a tiny bit eggier (is that a word?) because the porportions aren't exact!

    Thanks for the comment :) Happy Baking!

  3. Thanks for the recipe. I just finished making a batch and it smells delicious! Can't wait to eat it tonight. =)

  4. Can a food processor be used instead of the stand mixer?

  5. Hi Bonnie. Definitely you can use the food processor, although this is pretty big and hefty recipe (I think it's the eggs). I use the food processor for pizza dough so I know it works. The reason I don't is because our food processor is quite an old antique. If you have a new and strong one, definitely. Happy Baking!

  6. I love looking through and I think this website got some genuinely useful stuff on it!

  7. Do you mean Yeast kills salt???

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  8. can i knead the challah? i've made challah before (years ago) and i've always used a stand mixer but i (unfortunately) don't have one at home. how long would i have to knead it for?

    (just found your blog, already obsessed!)

  9. Hi Emma,

    You can absolutely knead the challah by hand! We've done that when visiting my mom who doesn't have a stand mixer. Just get your strongest muscles out and go for it! :)

  10. Hi! I've made your challah the other day!!! Thanks your recipe was terrific! You can see it in my blog,

  11. When using Canadian hard bread flour you need to increase the water to almost 2 cups.

  12. how many challot does this typically make? Just one with 6 cups bread flour?

  13. the amount of honey here is for a very sweet challah?? How much can i put if i wish for a less sweetness??

  14. Do you have an advise about making the challah dough a couple of days ahead and freezing it? Do you think it will work? I am trying to avoid the stress of Erev Chag. Yael.

  15. I always make the Challah for our Shabbot, and this is my favorite recipe. The family loves it, its very light, fluffy, and stays moist. I've caught my dad out picking at it in the middle of the night! Lol. My son is a huge bread fan, and he usually can't wait for me to slice into it. I love the texture of the dough, and I have to agree the oil is key to good dough. We keep bees, and it tastes great with fresh raw honey baked into every loaf! Sometimes we're a little generous with the honey... I have shared and given this recipe (with your blog site in the header so they can find it on the web) to neighbors, family and friends - non Jewish and Jewish alike! I stumbled across this site a couple years ago and loved the recipe, then couldn't find the link in my browser favs list, and nearly cried! I found where I had printed it off that first year, and jumped for joy! Believe me, it is well committed to memory now! I make my Challots every week, and yes, I do all the mixing and kneading by hand. Thanks for an awesome recipe!

  16. Have you ever successfully used coconut oil to bake challah?
    Pam :)

  17. Do you have to use bread flour?

  18. Hi, I made the challah for shabbat. It was a hit! Everyone loved it. Thanks.

  19. Hi, I made the challah for shabbat. It was a hit! Everyone loved it. Thanks.

  20. Hi, I made the challah for shabbat. It was a hit! Everyone loved it. Thanks.

  21. Hi, what if i change the honey for sugar, will still be as good? whats the proportion? thanks!!

  22. This came out fabulous! Nice and fluffy with good flavor and great aroma. Made two good-sized loaves. Kneaded by hand because I don't have a mixer; 10 minutes seems to have been the right amount, although I needed a bit more than 6 cups flour.