People kind of freak out in a good way if you make bread from scratch. It is perhaps, the ultimate party trick. 😉 And it is SO EASY you guys! Literally, preschoolers can do it, and do it well. I don’t always bake, but when I do, it’s either challah from scratch, or I just have too many over ripe bananas. I can’t believe I haven’t shared this recipe on the blog.
How freaking adorable is my little baking helper? 🙂
I’ve done the math, and have literally baked over 1,000 loaves of challah in the last 3 years (at my old job I would bake between 8-12 every Friday, with help of course. Also bake sales and high holidays required more like 25-75 loaves.) It is definitely a recipe that I have committed to memory, and I tweaked it over the years to get it just right. It has a bit more sugar than the recipe I was given originally called for. That’s my secret, I would say.
This recipe will make 2 loaves.
1 heaping tbsp of active dry yeast (or one packet)
1 cup of sugar
1 tsp of Salt
7 cups of flour
1/2 cup olive oil
Optional seasonings (you could go savory, like garlic/rosemary/thyme, or sweet, the classic being cinnamon raisin)
Tip: If you are making Challah the same day as preparing a nice sit-down dinner, make the dough first, then chop and prep the meal while you wait for the dough to rise.
1. Pour a single packet or a heaping tablespoon of rapid-rise yeast into a pint glass. Fill the glass with warm/hot water, leaving 1-1.5 inches at the top. Add a big ol’ spoonful of sugar. Mix well, and set aside.
Tip: Don’t forget that sugar! The yeast eats the sugar, which makes it expand. You know you’re doing it right if the mixture expands and starts to bubble over the brim, so it’s best to set the glass aside on a plate or Tupperware container, for easy clean up.
2. Combine 2 eggs and 1/2 cup of olive oil in another pint glass.
Tip: Use a high quality olive oil. It makes a big difference in terms of taste.
3. In a mixing bowl, add 3.5 cups of flour, 3/4 cup of sugar, and a teaspoon of course sea salt. Pour in the wet ingredients (your two pint glasses) and mix well.
Tip: Make sure the yeasty sugar water has activated before doing so.
4. Add another 3-3.5 cups of flour, until you have the perfect fluffy dough. Knead the dough for 5-8 minutes.
Tip: Play some groovy tunes and make it a kneading dance party. Did I just say “groovy tunes”? Oy…
5. Put the dough back in the mixing bowl and let it rise for a minimum of 15 minutes. I use rapid rise because I don’t like to wait hours. Ideally, even with rapid rise, you should wait an hour before braiding (I’m usually in the 30-45 minute range if I’m being honest). Now would be the time to add your optional seasonings, too.
Tip: Add a tiny bit of oil to the mixing bowl bottom and sides so the dough doesn’t stick to it as much.
6. When you are ready to braid, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
7. Braid away. Maybe I’ll do a video showing how to make a pretty 6 strand loaf, but spoiler alert, it all tastes the same ;).
8. Cover your beautiful braided dough in egg wash. (2 eggs + honey + spices, if you choose).
9. Bake for 20 minutes, then turn off the oven but let it continue baking for another 10-15 minutes.
That’s it! Traditionally challah is enjoyed on Shabbat (Friday sundown to Saturday night, once 3 stars in the sky are visible), but who are we kidding, it’s awesome any day of the week! Let me know if you try this out and how it goes!