In a mixing bowl or measuring cup combine warm milk (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.
Measure the flour and salt in a mixing bowl or stand mixer with the dough hook. Add the yeast mixture and combine well.Pro tip - If you do not like kneading, I highly recommend using a stand mixer with the hook attachment.
Knead - By hand - transfer to a well-dusted worktop and knead for 5 to 6 minutes (video shows kneading by hand) - Stand mixer - once all the flour is well incorporated knead on medium for 4 to 5 minutes (Progress pictures show knead in a stand mixer)
When the dough is soft, shiny, but still slightly sticky shape 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.
Leave in a warm place. Let rise for 60 to 90 minutes until double in volume. Pro tip - In winter, you may need 90 minutes or more. But in summer, the dough may double in 45 minutes. If you can't attend to it at that moment, de-gas, reshape, and let double in volume again.
Shaping the challah
When the dough is double in volume transfer to a well-dusted floured surface. De-gas, reshape into a ball. Then roll into a small log. Pro tip - At this point there is no need for additional flour. So use a light dusting of flour.
You can make two small challah bread or one large challah bread with this dough. For two small loaves, divide the dough into 2.
Then, divide the dough into 6 portions. They need to be approximately the same weight. I use a kitchen scale to measure the dough.Pro tip - If the portions are uneven, the challah braid will loo uneven as well. So, keep them similar in size.
Ropes - Shape each into a ball. If necessary, let rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Pro tip - When shaping into a ball ensure all seems are tucked in and the ball is smooth. Rest these for 5 to 10 minutes if the dough resists.
Roll each ball with a rolling pin on an un-floured work surface (see video). Then, roll like a jelly roll into a rope about 18 inches long (see video)Pro tip - This step is optional but it will give a nice shape and firm texture to the challah.
Braiding the challah
Place all six ropes so they intersect at the top. It's easier to watch the video first then try to understand my instructions. 😂 😜
Ensure the six strands are secured at the top. From left to right you now have 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 strands in front of you. It's harder when only read my instructions, so please watch the video.- Strand 1 goes over 6 and 6 goes over 1 - simple criss-cross (like two arms on either side).- Then, 1 comes down in between 2, 3, and 4, 5.- And 3 goes over in place of 6.- Then, 1 comes down in between 2, 3, and 4, 5.- And 4 goes over in place of 1.
Continue with the process until you have reached the bottom. Tuck the seams at the top and bottom under.
20 minutes before baking, preheat the oven at 350°F /177°C / Gas Mark 4
Brush the bread with a beaten egg. Pro tip - Egg wash is a full egg with 2 tablespoon of water. An egg wash will give a nice golden color. If you can't use egg, milk or cream will work just as well. Do not use oil or butter as it will create a crust.
If you make two challah bread with this dough bake each for 20 to 25 minutes until you have a nice golden brown. If you make one large challah, (as I have here) bake for about 45 to 50 minutes until you have a nice golden brown color. Pro tip - When baked, the internal temperature of the bread should be about 195 F. The bread will have a hollow sound on the bottom when tapped.
Remove 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 double 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 bread. 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 in the pan 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.
The secret to baking a perfect braided bread.
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 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