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Challah [BBB]

Irresistible. That is one word I would use to describe this bread. Simply irresistible.

At the beginning of the year I had set out some baking and cooking goals for myself. The very first one I checked off the list included a braided bread loaf. I have many of those goals still left to accomplish and I may or may not get to them this year due to life being life. But I was a bit relieved to see that this month’s challenge was something with which I at least had a bit of familiarity.

I took great care to “incubate” the dough this time and wrapped the bowl with a large towel and placed it far from the stainless steel counters. The chill in the air was not going to stop me! The dough rolled out quite easily and the braids came together easily. The dough rose again and was popped into the oven. I was so pleased with how it was baking up. The problem was that it was causing people to salivate as soon as it came out of the oven. Everyone wanted to touch it, hold it, and smell it. Thankfully, they allowed time to let it cool. Slightly. Just a few hours later we are down to one loaf and have none left to even try it out for French toast.

So, I have baked challah before and believe me, I enjoyed it. But, this recipe is an absolute keeper. It is delicious and absolutely worth baking again. Soon.


Yield: Makes two loaves

Source: from The New York Times Bread and Soup Cookbook


  • 5 1/2 to 6 1/2 cups of flour, unsifted
  • 3 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1 package of dry active yeast
  • 1/2 cup of butter, softened
  • a pinch of ground turmeric (or palillo!)
  • 1 cup of warm water (120-130F)
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon of cold water
  • 1/2 teaspoon of poppy seeds


  1. Combine 1 1/4 cups of flour, the sugar, salt and yeast in a large bowl. Mix in the softened butter. Stir the saffron into the warm water until it dissolves. Add a little at a time to the flour mixture and blend thoroughly. Beat for 2 minutes with an electric mixer and medium speed, scraping the bowl occasionally.
  2. Separate the yolk and white of one egg. Blend the single egg white and the other 3 whole eggs into the batter. Reserve the single egg yolk. Stir 1/2 cup of flour into the batter and beat at high speed for 2 minutes, scraping the bowl occasionally. Blend in enough additional flour to make a soft dough. Knead the dough on a lightly floured board about 8 to 10 minutes or until it is smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a greased bowl, turning it once to grease the top. Cover and allow the dough to rise in a warm, draft free place until double in bulk (approximately one hour).
  3. Flour a pastry board lightly and set the dough on it. Divide the dough into 2 equal portions. Divide each portion into 2 pieces, using 1/3 of the dough for one piece, and 2/3 of the dough for the other. Divide the large piece into 3 equal portions. Roll each of these into 12 inch ropes. Braid the ropes together tightly, using your fingers to press the dough together at the ends. Divide the smaller piece into 3 equal portions. Roll each of these into 10 inch ropes and braid tightly. Place the smaller braid on top of the larger one and seal the ends. Repeat this process to form the second loaf.
  4. Place both braided loaves on a greased baking sheet. Mix the reserved single egg yolk with the 1 tsp of cold water and brush the top of the loaves with the mixture. Sprinkle with poppy seeds, and let the loaves rise until double in bulk in a warm draft free place (approximately one hour). Preheat oven to 400F once loaves are almost finished rising.
  5. Bake in a 400F oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on wire racks.


Challah is being served up as the Bread Baking Buddies challenge of the month. This months challenge was hosted by Sara of I Like to Cook, October’s kitchen of the month.


27 Responses to “Challah [BBB]”

  1. Excellent! This looks amazing and very eggy, just how I love to have Challah. I’ve been looking for a great recipe. I’ve baked challah before, and the first time I did it (I was a very, very novice cook), I forgot to put in the eggs!!!

    Posted by Irene | October 23, 2008, 12:19 am
  2. Oh yes I can believe that, it’s a very touchy-feely bread hehe, the smells, the color, all the curves..Well done Gretchen!

    Posted by Baking Soda | October 23, 2008, 1:19 am
  3. Challah? Holla! Looks gorgeous, well done!

    Posted by Liz | October 23, 2008, 1:25 am
  4. I really need to make challah at home. Yours looks so perfect! Did it smell good? I bet!

    Posted by Clumbsy Cookie | October 23, 2008, 4:34 am
  5. I made a braided bread last week and loved it. It was so relaxing to make them and was looking around for a challah recipie.This looks like a absloutl winner.Will try them.

    Posted by Happy cook | October 23, 2008, 4:48 am
  6. This is a beautiful loaf of bread. It’s a winner!

    Posted by Mary | October 23, 2008, 8:27 am
  7. Your challah looks perfect, Gretchen.

    Posted by sunita | October 23, 2008, 9:54 am
  8. these look amazing. And even though I don t like baking bread I d like to try this recipe. Did you use regular flour or bread flour ??

    Posted by Snooky doodle | October 23, 2008, 11:25 am
  9. Fantastic Gretchen!Touchy feely just like everybody wants to hold a baby;)Drama in the oven!

    Posted by MyKitchenInHalfCups | October 23, 2008, 11:28 am
  10. gorgeous! i’m so glad you enjoyed the recipe.

    Posted by Sara | October 23, 2008, 12:47 pm
  11. Gorgeous loaf – I love this kind of bread. It makes the very best French Toast ever!

    Posted by Dana McCauley | October 23, 2008, 4:48 pm
  12. This looks beautiful! I’ve made Challah before as well, but I’ve been looking for a new recipe to see how they compare.

    Posted by Erin | October 23, 2008, 8:12 pm
  13. I can totally understand why this bread is irresistible. But, I can’t bake – just cook…So, you bake…and I’ll eat…deal?-DTWwww.everydaycookin.blogspot.com

    Posted by Darius T. Williams | October 23, 2008, 8:23 pm
  14. Irene – This was incredibly delicious! This is a wonderful recipe!Baking Soda – It was wonderful! I need more soon!Liz – Haha! Thanks!Clumbsy cookie – Oh it smelled and felt and tasted outrageously great!Happy Cook – Hope you do try this recipe, it was so tasty!Mary – Thanks!Sunita – Thank you!Snooky Doodle – It was wonderful bread, well worth trying! I used all purpose flour from King Arthur.Tanna – If only you could see all the hands that had to touch this one!Sara – Thank you Thank you Thank you!Dana – I bet it would be great french toast if it stuck around that long!Erin – Please do try this one. I have made some before and this was way better!!DTW – Haha! You should try baking sometime, at least for me, it is very relaxing!

    Posted by Gretchen Noelle | October 23, 2008, 11:37 pm
  15. That is a beautiful loaf of bread! Challah is a fave of mine. It makes the best French toast!

    Posted by StickyGooeyCreamyChewy | October 24, 2008, 10:19 am
  16. Your challah turned out beautifully! Isn’t it great to be able to check something off your “to bake” list? Great job, baking buddy!

    Posted by Cookie baker Lynn | October 24, 2008, 10:37 am
  17. that is a beautiful challah. and the smelling of the bread is a gorgeous shot. what i would be doing too!

    Posted by Aran | October 24, 2008, 11:52 am
  18. Gorgeous challah it has turned out perfect – well done!

    Posted by Rosie | October 24, 2008, 2:02 pm
  19. Absolute beauty Gretchen! Freshly baked bread rocks!!

    Posted by Tartelette | October 24, 2008, 8:13 pm
  20. Your challah is singing to me…it’s gorgeous!

    Posted by Passionate About Baking | October 25, 2008, 2:53 am
  21. Beautiful that’s the word I word use to describe your bread!It really is a lovely bread isn’t it, both tastewise as its looks. Great bread Gretchen!

    Posted by Lien | October 26, 2008, 2:27 am
  22. Wow, you did a great job, your challah is beautiful. I thought your photos were quite clever as well. I love baking bread.

    Posted by Kim | October 26, 2008, 11:03 am
  23. Oh boy, I just can smell the wonderful aroma of bread wafting from your blog. Looks gorgeous!

    Posted by veron | October 26, 2008, 5:31 pm
  24. I love Challah a lot. Yours turned out so nicely. So beautiful!

    Posted by farida | October 27, 2008, 3:26 pm
  25. Susan – Thanks! It never made it to french toast! It was already gone!Lynn – Thanks! I love when I feel as though i accomplished things!Aran – Thanks! My friend was taking pictures and I liked how it turned out.Rosie – Thank you!Helene – Thanks so much!Passionate about baking – It was beautiful and delicious!Lien – Thanks! It was so tasty too!Kim – Thanks! I love fresh baked bread as well!Veron – MMMmmm, yes…delicious!Farida – Me too! It was delicious!

    Posted by Gretchen Noelle | October 27, 2008, 5:48 pm
  26. Challah is my faaaaavorite!!! Seriously, just thinking about it makes me hungry (and brings a smile to my face!). Yours looks delicious!

    Posted by proofofthepudding | October 31, 2008, 4:00 pm
  27. The recipe is definitely a keeper. Nice pictures!

    Posted by Jude | November 1, 2008, 7:55 pm

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