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Challah Bread

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Challah Bread

1 package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp salt
3 eggs
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (for a gluten -free version use your favorite gluten-free flour)
1 beaten egg yolk (you may need more)

1. In a large bowl, stir the yeast into the water, and let the mixture stand until a creamy layer forms on top.
2. Stir in honey and salt until dissolved
3. Beat the 3 eggs and add to the mixture.
4. Mix in the flour, a cupful at a time, until the dough is sticky.
5. Knead until smooth - use a little extra flour as dough should be sticky
6. Form the dough ball, and place in an oiled bowl.
7. Turn the dough over several times in the bowl to oil the surface of the dough.
8. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth, and let rise until doubled in size, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
9. Punch down the dough, and cut it into 3 equal-sized pieces.
10. Working on a floured surface, roll the small dough pieces into ropes about the thickness of your thumb and about 12 inches long. Makre sure they are fatter in the middle and thinner at the ends.
13. Pinch 3 ropes together at the top and braid them.
14. Once braided pinch the ends of the loaf under the bread
15. Place the braided loaf on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and brush the top with beaten egg yolk.
16. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
17. Bake until the top browns to a rich golden color and the loaf sounds hollow when you tap it with a spoon, 30 to 35 minutes.
18. Cool on a wire rack before slicing.

Beautiful!  ;)

Another form of challah bread,

Jessamyn's Sephardic Challah

    Contributed by Jessamyn Waldman

    ACTIVE: 25 MIN
    TOTAL TIME: 3 HRS 45 MIN Plus cooling
    SERVINGS: Makes 2 round loaves

Jessamyn's Sephardic Challah recipe

Jessamyn Waldman, founder of Hot Bread Kitchen, grew up in Canada eating challah, the Jewish Sabbath bread. Unlike the eggy challahs of the Ashkenazi Jews of Eastern Europe, this version comes from the Sephardic Jews of the Mediterranean, who flavored their challahs with caraway and anise. Many challahs are braided, but this one is twisted into a round, turban-shaped loaf.

Jessamyn's Sephardic Challah
© Zubin Shroff
Recipe: Jessamyn's Sephardic Challah


    3 tablespoons sesame seeds
    1 1/2 tablespoons caraway seeds
    1 1/2 tablespoons anise seeds
    1 envelope active dry yeast
    2 cups lukewarm water
    5 cups bread flour
    2 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    2 tablespoons honey
    1 tablespoon kosher salt
    Cornmeal for dusting
    2 large egg yolks

    In a skillet, toast the sesame, caraway and anise seeds over moderate heat until fragrant, 2 minutes; transfer to a plate and let cool. In a small bowl, combine the yeast with 2 tablespoons of the water and let stand until thoroughly moistened, about 5 minutes.
    In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the flour with the olive oil, the honey and the remaining water and mix at low speed until a very soft dough forms. Add the kosher salt, yeast mixture and all but 1 tablespoon of the seeds and mix at medium-low speed until the dough is supple and smooth, 10 minutes. Using oiled hands, transfer the dough to a large oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let stand in a draft-free spot until the dough is risen, 1 hour.
    Lightly oil 2 small cookie sheets and dust them with cornmeal. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and press to deflate. Cut the dough in half and let rest for 5 minutes. Roll each piece into an 18-inch-long rope and let rest for 5 minutes longer, then roll each rope into a 32-inch rope. Beginning at the center and working outwards, form each rope into a coil; tuck the ends under the coils.
    Transfer each coil to a baking sheet and cover each loaf with a large, inverted bowl. Let stand for 1 hour, until the loaves have nearly doubled in bulk.
    Preheat the oven to 400°. In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks with 1 tablespoon of water. Brush the egg wash over the loaves and let stand uncovered for 30 minutes. Brush with the egg wash once more and sprinkle with the reserved 1 tablespoon of seeds. Bake the loaves side-by-side in the center of the oven for 30 minutes, until they're golden and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Transfer the loaves to racks and let cool completely before slicing.

Make Ahead The loaves can be wrapped in foil and refrigerated for up to 1 week.

Image from previous recipe, Jessalyn's Sephardic Challa Bread.
This bread has carroway and anise.


Challah is a loaf of yeast-risen egg bread that is traditionally eaten by Jews on Shabbat, on ceremonial occasions and during festival holidays. The word "challah" is also used to refer to the portion of dough that is traditionally separated from the rest of the dough before baking. The plural of "challah" is "challot."

Challah Shapes and Symbols

Challah is often braided using anywhere between two to six strands of dough. According to author Gil Marks, until the 15th century most Ashkenazim used their weekday rectangular loaves or round loaves for Shabbat. Eventually, however, German Jews began making a "new form of Sabbath bread, an oval, braided loaf modeled on a popular Teutonic bread" ("The World of Jewish Cooking," 276). Over time this shape became the most commonly used in Ashkenazi culture, though many Middle Eastern and Sephardic communities today still use either a round flat bread or plain rectangular loaves for their challot.

Less common challah shapes include spirals, keys, books and flowers. On Rosh HaShanah, for instance, challah is baked into spiral rounds (symbolizing the continuity of creation), braided rounds (symbolizing the ascent to heaven) or crowns (symbolizing God as the King of the Universe). Bird shapes are derived from Isaiah 31:5, which states: "As hovering birds, so will the Lord of hosts shield Jerusalem." When eaten during the meal before Yom Kippur, a bird shape can also represent the idea that one's prayers will soar to heaven. (Marks, Gil. "The World of Jewish Cooking," 278).
Seeds (poppy, sesame, coriander) are sometimes sprinkled on challot just before baking. Some say the seeds symbolize the manna that fell from heaven while the Israelites wandered in the desert following their Exodus from Egypt. Sweeteners like honey can also be added to loaves, likewise representing the sweetness of manna.

Challah in Jewish Ritual

Two loaves of challah (challot) are placed on the Sabbath and holiday table. Two loaves are used in commemoration of the double portion of manna that was provided on Friday to the Israelites in the desert following the Exodus from Egypt (Exodus 16:4-30). The two loaves remind Jews that God will provide for their material needs, even if they refrain from working on the Sabbath day. The loaves are usually covered with a decorative cloth, which reminds us how when manna fell from the sky it was protected by layers of dew.

A blessing known as HaMotzi is recited over the bread before it is eaten:

Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha'olam, hamotzi lechem min ha'aretz.
 Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.
 Following the blessing the challah can either be sliced with a knife or broken apart by hand. Pieces of the bread are then distributed for all to eat. In Sephardic communities the pieces of bread are sometimes tossed to people instead of handed, representing how food ultimately comes from God, not the host of the dinner.

Challah Tithe

The term "challah" also refers to a small piece of dough that is traditionally separated from the rest of the dough before baking. This piece of dough is separated in memory of the portion of dough that was set aside as a tithe for the Jewish priests (Kohanim) in biblical times.
 Challah Recipes Elsewhere:
•Apple-Honey Challah

•Honey-Vanilla Challah

•Chocolate-Apricot Challah



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