This time, we are sharing a very traditional recipe with you again. But first here is some background information before we start baking this braided sweet yeast bread called challah:

It is a jewish recipe, usually eaten on special occasions such as major jewish holidays. This sweet bread is braided and as per the ritual, the dough must be separated before baking and a small portion of it is set aside as an offering. It’s name “Challah” means either cake or loaf in biblical hebrew.

Generally, this can be considered as an easy recipe. The only difficulty of this is the braiding but with a little training you should be perfectly fine. Just scroll further down on the recipe and you will find a pictured guide to help you with each step.

Info: Traditionally a challah doesn’t contain any dairy. We used milk and butter in this recipe which makes the crumb fluffier.

Things to know before you start

Time Schedule

StepsWork timeWaiting time
Prepare lemon~5 minutes
Mix~15 minutes
Bulk Fermentation~5 minutes1,5-2 hours
Shape~15 minutes
Proof30 minutes
Coat~10 minutes
Bake~5 minutes35 minutes
Cool30-60 minutes

In about 4 hours a beautiful challah will be on the table ready for you to enjoy.

Total ingredients

WeightIngredient
500 gPastry flour
50 gWhite sugar
6 gSalt
21 gYeast – Fresh
250 gMilk – 3,5% fat
75 gButter
2xEggs
1xLemon – Untreated (2 g of lemon zest)
15 gCoarse sugar
10 gWater

You will have a dough of about 964 g in total.

Difficulty

Another nice and simple recipe. As usual the only tricky part for braided breads or rolls is the part where you have to make the braid if you haven’t made one with dough yet.

Baking tools

You will need a big baking sheet or pan where you can place the challah on. We used a 32 x 42 cm wide one. There should be no problem if yours is a bit smaller or even bigger.

You can also have a look at our should have baking tools to make your life easier for the whole baking process.

Steps

1. Prepare Lemon

WeightIngredient
1xLemon
  • Rinse the lemon under hot water and dry it off
  • Grate the zest and put aside

2. Mix

WeightIngredient
2 gLemon zest
50 gWhite sugar
250 gMilk – 3,5% fat – 20°C (68°F)
21 gYeast – Fresh
1xEgg
500 gPastry flour
6 gSalt
75 gButter (softened)
  • Mix the previously grated lemon zest with the sugar in your mixing bowl
  • Add the milk and fresh yeast and mix until the yeast is mostly dissolved
  • Afterwards add the egg and mix until full incorporated
  • Switch to dough hooks
  • Sift in the flour, add the salt and softened butter and mix with a stand mixer for 3 minutes on speed level one and 5 minutes on speed level two
  • The dough should be elastic and smooth

3. Bulk Fermentation

  • Cover the bowl and let it rest for a total of 1,5 to 2 hours at 20-22°C (68-71,6°F) or until nearly doubled in size
  • As we are using a high amount of fresh yeast, the dough will rise significantly 

4. Shape

  • Take a baking sheet and cover it with parchment paper as we are going to place the shaped challah directly on it
  • Here is a short guide on how to braid the dough:
  1. Take the dough out on a slightly floured surface
  2. Divide the dough into 3 dough balls of the same weight
  3. Roll each one to a cord of 40 to 45 cm
  4. Place 3 cords vertically from you next to each other
  5. Take the end of the middle cord, put it over the end of the cord on the left and press it together just a little bit
  6. Take the end of the right cord, put it over the end of both cords and also press it together just a little bit
  7. Take the left cord and cross it over the middle cord
  8. Take the right cord and cross it over the new middle cord
  9. Give the cords a gentle tug to tighten the cords as you braid
  10. Repeat steps 7 to 9 until you reach the end to create a full braid
  • Place the braid on a the baking sheet
  • Finally your dough should roughly look like in the following picture

    5. Proof

    • Cover the dough with a kitchen towel
    • Let it proof for 30 minutes at 20-22°C (68-71,6°F) or until nearly doubled in size

    6. Coat

    WeightIngredient
    1xEgg
    10 gWater
    15 gCoarse sugar
    • Create an egg wash by beating one egg with 10 g of water in a bowl together
    • Carefully brush the egg wash on top and sides of the shaped challah
    • Sprinkle the coarse sugar everywhere on top

    7. Bake

    • Preheat oven to 180°C (356°F) with the upper and lower heat function
    • Put the challah in the oven in the middle rack and bake for 35 minutes or until the top is a rich golden brown
    • After baking take your finished challah out immediately

    8. Cool

    • Let your challah cool for 30 to 60 and enjoy while still warm

    Conclusion

    Taste

    Even though we used fresh yeast for this bread, there is only a slight taste of it which is hardly noticeable.

    It is super fluffy on the inside and nicely soft on the outside covered with a flossy brightness.

    The coarse sugar is a nice contrast as it provides a little crunch and the lemon zest adds a layer of freshness which rounds off the taste perfectly.

    Gallery