Challah is a Jewish bread that is usually made for Friday evening in preparation for Shabbat The characteristics of a round challah are very different from a regular elongated braided bread but the method is very similar.
Yeast mixture - In a large bowl or measuring cup, combine warm water (110 F), yeast, honey, oil, and eggs. Stir and set aside to foam for 3 mins.Pro tip - Instant yeast does not need to be activated. But I like to ensure my yeast is good and working for me. You may choose to add all ingredients directly to the flour.
250 g Warm water, 9 g Instant dry yeast, 40 g Honey, 40 g Oil, 100 g Eggs
Dry ingredients - Measure the flour and salt in a mixing bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment on medium speed. Pro tip - If you do not like kneading, I highly recommend using a stand mixer with the hook attachment.
500 g Bread flour, 9 g Salt
Knead - Add the yeast mixture to the flour mixture and combine well on medium-low speed. Knead until smooth and elastic. This should take about 6 to 8 minutes on medium-low in the stand mixer or about 10 to 15 minutes by hand on a lightly dusted work surface.
Ball - When the dough is smooth, soft, and elastic. Shape it into a ball. Place the dough in an oiled bowl seam side down. Coat the surface with oil to prevent drying. Cover with a clean kitchen cloth or plastic wrap.
Rise - Leave in a warm place. Let rise for 60 to 90 minutes until doubles in volume. Pro tip - Alternatively, you can also place the dough in the fridge to cold-proof overnight. Thaw at room temperature for an hour before shaping.
Divide - Transfer to a well-dusted work surface. Press down and shape it into a log. Then, divide the dough into 3 portions for three-braided round challah or divide into 4 for four-braided round challah.Pro tip - I use a weighing scale to measure the dough but, you can keep them approximate as well.
Strand - Shape each portion into a ball. Press the ball as flat as you can and then roll like a jelly roll from the top to the bottom. Then, roll each into a 26-28 inches long thin strand. Pro tip - You can also just stretch the dough into a rope but this method will give a better texture without air pockets.
Braiding challah - 3 strands
3 braid round challah - Place the three strands on the table and braid it from the top to the bottom like you braid your hair. Then, shape it into a coil from one end to the other making sure the end is properly tucked under so it does not open during baking. Pro tip - This one is as easy as braiding your hair so don't confuse yourself.
4 braid round challah - Place two strands parallel to each other on the table and place the other two strands across overlapping the other two in the center. Then, create a coil starting from one side to the other and then vice versa as shown in the video or progress pictures. Make sure to tuck the ends under. Pro tip - It is easier to watch the video or see the progress pictures and understand this braiding.
Proof & bake
Proof - Place the loaves on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover with a plastic wrap or clean kitchen cloth and let proof for 45 to 60 minutes. Alternatively, you can also place the dough in an 8-inch round baking pan. Pro tip - Spray the plastic wrap with oil to prevent it from sticking to the rolls.
Oven - About 20 minutes before baking preheat the oven at 350°F /177°C / Gas Mark 4
Bake - Brush the bread with a beaten egg. Then bake each loaf on the center rack of the oven for 35 to 40 minutes. Pro tip - Alternatively, if you make two smaller loaves bake them for a shorter time 20 to 25 minutes each.
Cool - Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Then, cover with a clean kitchen cloth to keep it soft.Pro tip - Do not leave the loaf on the tray for too long as the steam will make the bread soggy on the bottom. Covering the bread with a cloth will help the bread retain moisture and prevent it from drying out.
Measure all ingredients ahead of time, so you don't forget anything at the last minute.
For accuracy, use a weight measure for the ingredients because every cup of flour can weigh differently depending on how you fill it.
The liquid (milk or water) must be warm (not hot) - about 110F. If the liquid is too hot, it will kill the yeast. Similarly, if the liquid is too cold, it will not activate the yeast.
Most yeasts have a long shelf life, but they can get ruined. Always check the expiry date on the yeast. If unsure, combine the yeast with water/milk, sugar/honey, and oil/butter from the recipe and let stand 5 minutes. If it gets foamy the yeast is good to go. If not, it's best to buy fresh yeast or check the temperature of the milk.
Keep salt away from yeast as it can kill the yeast. I like to combine salt with the flour then add the yeast mixture.
A soft loose well-hydrated dough is not necessarily a bad thing. Often, it will give you soft puffy bread. So, don't be tempted to add more flour than mentioned in the recipe.
Kneading is key to making good bread. While kneading by hand can be therapeutic, using a stand mixer is easier and quicker.
Leave the dough at room temperature to rise until doubles in volume. While not recommended, when in haste, you can place it in a warm (30 C / 75 F- not hotter) oven this will expedite the rise.
Bread does not have to be time-consuming. You can leave the dough in the fridge to rise for a few hours (even overnight) while you go about your chores. A slow rise will give more flavor to the bread.
Always preheat the oven for at least 10 minutes before you place bread in or the low temperature will spread the dough too much.
Overnight challah - The dough can be prepared a day in advance. Proof it for an hour on the counter then punch down and let the dough rest in the fridge overnight. Overnight proofing is a great way to add flavor to the bagels. The next day, let the dough come to room temperature before you shape and bake them.
Storing challah - These loaves do freeze beautifully. Cool the baked loaves then place them in a freezer-safe storage bag. These can be frozen for up to a month. I like to slice my challah so my kids use a few slices at a time.
Kneading the dough - If possible use an electric mixer because the dough is soft and sticky.
Bread machine - this dough can be easily made in a bread machine. Pour all ingredients into the pan and set to dough or manual. Start and let the dough run its cycle for about 9 to 10 minutes - continue with the recipe as shown above.
There are two things that contribute to good challah bread.
The density of the dough when making this bread. Unlike our pizza or focaccia bread, where we add more water, this dough has less water. Unlike our dinner rolls, where we make light and airy bread, this one is denser. That's because we want the dough to hold its shape. So, when you knead this dough, you want to take note of the density of the dough. It must be soft but still have a good body, not as squishy as pizza dough.
When shaping the loaf, don't just roll it into a long rope. Take that moment to roll it out, then into a jelly roll, as I have in the video. This gives you a well-formed and shaped loaf. The final bread will hold better, as I like to call it a good-looking bread.
The nutrition information and metric conversion are calculated automatically. I cannot guarantee its accuracy. If this data is important to you please verify with your trusted nutrition calculator. Thank you