Braiding Challah

So pretty

The recipe I use is from The Bread Bible and once again it is fairly advanced. I promise the next bread recipe will be far more simple. That said, I like her version because the substitution of honey for sugar creates a moist crumb unlike most challah breads which can be a little too dry. I did a four-strand braid, but a three-strand works well too. If you do three, just start at the middle and work out to each end, braiding much like if it was someone’s hair. The recipe is below, but let’s pick up from the hard part.

Thus it begins

Divide dough into four equal balls and let rest covered for 10 minutes.

Gently

Using the palms of your hands, gently roll each ball into a roughly 15-inch strand. Taper the ends shorter than the center as you roll.

Just press them together

Press all four strands together tightly. Once the braiding begins tuck them under to create a nicer appearance.

Not as hard as it looks

Take the outside strand and pull it under both of the two inside strands. Try not to flatten the dough as you do this.

And done

Take the outside strand and wrap it over the second strand in the middle closest to the other side. Then repeat the process from the other side. Basically you alternate taking each outside strand under the two middle strands and then over the middle strand farther away from the side you started on.

Keep on trucking

Continue until out of dough. Try and do this as quickly as possible because the dough will rise fairly fast. At the same time you need to be gentle so as to not force out too much air. I did say this was another advanced bread.

Ready to rise again

Brush with egg and let rise for an hour before baking.

Challah

Starter

  • 1 cup unbleached white flour
  • 1 tsp yeast
  • 2/3 cup warm water
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 3 large eggs room temp

The night before mix all ingredients for starter. Cover tightly and let sit for 10 hours.

Dough

  • 4 2/3 cups unbleached white flour
  • 1 ¼ tsp yeast
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 2 large eggs cold
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 6 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar

Mix flour and yeast well. Add salt and mix again. Scoop over sponge and cover tightly. Let stand for four hours. Add all other ingredients and mix with hands until a rough dough forms. Turn out on counter cover and let rest twenty minutes. Using as little extra flour as possible, knead dough until smooth and slightly tacky, about five minutes. Place in oiled bowl and cover. Let rise until doubled, about 1 ½ hours. Press down gently keeping as much air in the dough and cover again. Let rise a second time until doubled about 45 minutes. Shape dough as seen above. Brush lightly with egg mixed with water, cover and refrigerate until doubled about 2 hours. Brush heavily with more egg wash and bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. Cover bread with foil and continue to bake until done about 25 minutes more.

About Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide

This blog attempts to collect some of the things I try to create with food and booze. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I fail. My hope is to entertain and maybe help people think a little harder about what they decide to eat and drink.
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33 Responses to Braiding Challah

  1. Bethea says:

    Oooh! That looks delicious. So exciting.

  2. Can’t wait to try this one !

  3. fatisrecipes says:

    I still can’t get my head around the 4 strand braid (i.e. how to do it). I think I’ll need some practicing on someone’s pony tail before I try it with the dough! 🙂

  4. Beautiful! I can almost smell it here.

  5. Devika says:

    lovely recipe and process. i really enjoyed the step-by-step braiding pictures. now to actually make the bread at home….

  6. Rufus you make me want to try baking 🙂

  7. ChefMom says:

    I think bread is easily one of my favorite foods. I’m still working my way up to making a starter, but I’m going to do it this spring. The four-strand braid is impressive too!

  8. boogie. says:

    when i made challah bread, i could not braid it for the life of me! i got the first few braids down, but somewhere in the middle i lost it and got confused. i tried to braid it several times, but i was afraid that the dough would get overworked and end up getting tough. it turned out delicious, though! it made me forget about the braiding!

  9. Liz says:

    Absolutely beautiful. A wonderful step by step tutorial.

  10. saminacooks says:

    Beautiful Challah and excellent pictures! I tried making this a few months back. It is my favorite tasting bread to date! LOL I like it so much..I made another that evening, just to let it go stale, so I can make it into bread pudding. …..Now I feel the need to go baking.

  11. Babygirl says:

    I should have said in my “Facts About Me” that I don’t like bread that much lol. But let me tell you, making bread (I have done that) is hard to do. And you have just created a beautiful, artistic masterpiece when you made this challah. I would try this.

  12. Laura says:

    I made challah before but it didn’t look this good! I think that my ropes were too uneven. Great how-to!

  13. Jacqueline says:

    I adore Challah! In fact, I couldn’t give up carbs to save my life. I’ve only ever made bread by hand, and your photos evoke that pleasure. Thanks so much for dropping by my blog, Rufus. I’ll be following your food adventures!

  14. Love your pics. Would you mind stopping by the house and helping us with ours? This recipe sounds great. Will give it a shot.

  15. gentry says:

    your challah is very pretty…I’ve been wanting to make some…perhaps your pictures have pushed me into action! Thanks!

  16. Looking fantastic! I love braiding of any kind! With your pictures and instructions, it’ll be fun to make!

    Blessings
    Samantha

  17. kaynou says:

    I’m going try this recipe this week. Looks delicious!

  18. Wow that turned out so beautiful! I really need to try making challah bread one of these days…

  19. Recipe Chefs says:

    Excellent post thanks for sharing. Food is something I can enjoy all around. If I’m not eating it. I’m reading and looking at pictures about it.

    Rise n Shine Eggs – Breakfast Recipe

  20. Yuri says:

    Beautiful challah! Love the process photos 🙂

  21. iamanapascal says:

    This looks incredible, I’ll definitely be consulting this post when I attempt making challah. The photographs on this blog are fantastic! Thanks for the comment on my stuffed-cookies post, I’m rather new at this and appreciate the encouragement!

  22. Hi Rufus,
    Thanks for your comment on my blueberry lattice pie.
    I was just taking a look at your blog and your beautiful photos. Nice work. I was especially attracted to your braided challah as I posted something similar I called poppy seed twist aka braided challah. Thought you might like to try the technique of braiding vertically instead of horizontally. I posted drawings of the technique which I learned from John Clancy. It makes a high compact loaf. I like your technique of making a starter first. Happy blogging.

    Phyllis

  23. Jessica says:

    This looks great! Challah is on my list of things to make. Braiding dough sounds like fun. 🙂

  24. Great blog! I have never thought about making challah my self, as I am usually given it around this time of year. I will make this, eat half, and make bread pudding with the rest!

  25. Hannah says:

    This looks awesome, and the picture at the top is gorgeous. I’ve been wanting to make challah for awhile now (and have been wanting to get that particular cookbook), so I’ll have to try this one out. Thanks!

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  28. A_Boleyn says:

    Braiding a 4 strand challah is pretty ambitious but the results are worth it for the oohs and aahs.

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