This challah bread is so soft and rich—it takes a little bit of time to make but the results are well-worth it! A perfect yeast bread to put on your Thanksgiving table this year!
I am amazed by this bread. Easily the best bread I have ever tasted in my life. And the absolute perfect bread to put on your Thanksgiving table.
For those of you who don’t know what challah is, here’s the scoop: According to Wikipedia, challah is a traditional braided bread that Jewish enjoy on Sabbaths, holidays, and such. What sets it apart from regular bread?
- The dough is twisted into a beautiful braid
- It’s super-rich and soft inside. Honestly, the softest bread you will ever taste.
So what makes challah so soft and rich inside? One word: Eggs. Yep, this one loaf of challah has 3 eggs in it. Eggs are the main factor in this bread’s softness.
Unfortunately, making challah isn’t like making other breads. It takes time. Challah requires 3 rises…It takes nearly5 hours from start to finish, which is basically an all-day project. Most of that time is inactive—Waiting, waiting for the bread to rise!
The ingredients for the challah are pretty basic and you probably have all the ingredients on hand right now—Active dry yeast, warm water, melted butter, eggs, salt, and flour. Making the challah dough itself is pretty easy–it’s made and kneaded in your mixer in only 5 minutes and ready for the first of 3 rises.
The first rise takes the longest: About 2 hours, or until the dough is doubled. After your dough has doubled, punch it down and let it rise again until doubled—this rise should take about 1 hour. Now it’s time to form the braid!
It can be a little difficult tackling the braid—especially if this is your first time—I’ve prepared a step-by-step picture tutorial to help you out with that:
Divide your risen-twice challah dough into 3 equal pieces.
Twist each of the 3 pieces into 12-in ropes.
Begin braiding the ropes from top to bottom.
Once you have braided your loaf, pinch ends to seal and tuck neatly underneath.
Carefully transfer loaf to a parchment-paper lined baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit in a warm place until doubled, about 30 minutes.
A lot of people brush their challah with an egg wash—I prefer to brush my challah with softened butter and sprinkle with sea salt, moments after removing from the oven. It gives the crust a delicious buttery-salty flavor that I love. However, if you want to, you can certainly use an egg wash—Just beat 1 egg white with 1 teaspoon water and then brush it over your challah, just before baking.
Baking your challah at exactly 375F is essential—it develops a crunchy, lightly-browned crust and a soft, moist interior. 35-40 minutes of bake time, and your challah is ready for the last step: Lightly brush the warm challah with softened butter and sprinkle with sea salt. Allow your bread to cool 15 minutes, cut into slices, and serve warm with fresh butter.
With this bread’s chewy brown crust and a soft, rich interior, just one bite makes those nearly-5 hours of work worth it. Ohh so worth it 😉 I know you’re going to love this bread—my family has gone completely crazy for it!
- 2-1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 2/3 cup warm water
- 1/4 cup butter melted
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 3 large eggs lightly beaten
- 1-1/4 teaspoons salt
- 3 cups white whole wheat flour
- Softened butter and salt for top
In a stand mixer, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand 5 minutes, then on low speed, mix in melted butter, honey, eggs, and salt until smooth. Increase speed to medium, and add flour 1 cup at a time until mixture forms a soft dough. Knead dough at medium speed until smooth and elastic, about 3-4 minutes. Form dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover top with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 2 hours.
Once dough is doubled, punch it down to deflate it. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise a second time until doubled, about 1 hour.
Punch dough down, and turn onto a floured surface. Divide dough into 3 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a 12 in long rope. Place dough ropes side-by-side, and working from the top to the bottom, braid the dough ropes. Pinch edges to seal and tuck underneath braided dough. Transfer bread to a parchment-paper lined baking sheet. Cover bread with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.
Bake challah at 375F 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown. Brush top with additional butter and sprinkle with sea salt while warm. Let cool on a wire cooling rack 15 minutes before slicing. Serve warm.
Store challah in an airtight container at room temperature up to 2 days.
Check out these other great Thanksgiving recipes!