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Challah Bread – Simple Recipe

I was always impressed by the look of braided challah bread since it looked complicated to create out of dough.  I enjoy challenging myself, so I decided to make one of my own and share my experience with all of you.

I watched several Utube videos to learn the braiding technique using 4 strands of dough (not as easy as using only 3 strands).  I made some plain soft dough out of flour and water to practice which was an excellent idea, and I would highly recommend this before working with the actual challah dough.  Everything looks easy when someone else does it, but it is a whole different experience when we have to do it.

Here are the beginning steps of braiding, then from here on the process repeats to the end of the strands.  For a more uniform size of the challah, you tuck it under at the top and the bottom of the loaf.

Working with yeast-raised dough is fun, but the amount of flour needed may differ on certain days, depending on the humidity in the air.  That is why I mentioned in my directions that sometimes you might need to add as much as 1/2 cup of additional flour to get the correct dough consistency. On my first try, I used exactly 4 cups of flour, but on my second baking time on a rainy day, my dough was way too soft so I added another 1/2 cup of flour to get it just right for kneading.

This recipe yields 1 large (18 inches long) challah or two smaller ones (13″ each).

Challah Bread – Simple Recipe

Challah Bread – Simple Recipe


  • 4 cups all-purpose flour (I used 2 cups all-purpose flour plus 2 cups bread flour)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 1/4 tsp. Rapid Rise dry yeast(1 packet - ¼ oz)
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract, Cognac or other liquor
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest (½ lemon)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 2 Tbs. whole milk or sweet cream for basting


  1. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt, and yeast.
  2. In another bowl, beat eggs, then mix in oil and water, lemon zest and vanilla extract or liquor.
  3. Gradually add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, mixing with a spoon until a dough forms. Knead the dough on a floured surface for about 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic, or in a mixer with a dough hook for 20 minutes.
  4. If the dough is too sticky to knead, you might need to add a little more flour, even up to a ½ cup.
  5. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover, and let it rise in a warm place for 1-2 hours, or until doubled in size.
  6. Punch down the dough, then divide into equal parts and braid as desired (I used 4 dough strands for braiding).
  7. Place greased parchment paper on a large cookie sheet (11x18), then place the dough strands and braid it. If you wish you can braid the challah on a lightly floured work surface then gently transfer it onto the baking pan lined with greased parchment paper. Gently tuck the ends under the challah, cover with a cotton tea towel, and let rise for another hour.
  8. Preheat oven to 350°F(180°C). Using a pastry brush, baste to top of the challah with milk or cream.
  9. Bake for 28– 30 minutes, or until golden brown.
  10. Use a cold stick of butter and smother the top of hot challah to create a soft crust (optional).
  11. Cool on a wire rack before slicing.


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