A soft, braided sweet white loaf, traditionally served before Sabbath
2 large loaves
1 1/2 cups warm water
1/2 cup honey
1 tablespoon oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons instant active dry yeast*
5 cups flour, plus additional flour (may take 8 or 9 cups of flour total)
1. Combine ingredients in a large bowl in order listed. Add enough flour and knead to make a smooth dough. Knead for approximately 10 minutes.
2. Oil top of bread and cover. Let rise in a warm place until almost doubled, about 1 1/2 hours. Punch down.
3. **Divide dough into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a rope about 14-15" long and an inch in diameter.
4. Lay 4 ropes side-by-side and pinch tops together. Braid tightly starting on the left, taking the rope over two and under one. Pinch bottom ends and fold under.
5. Place braids on greased baking sheets and cover. Let rise in a warm place for 25-30 minutes.
6. Brush with beaten eggs and sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds. Bake at 325 degrees for 30-40 minutes, until done. (If loaves are on two separate sheets, rotate halfway through baking time for even baking.) If loaves start to brown too quickly, loosely lay a piece of foil on top. Cool on wire racks, covered.
Challah braided with 6 strands of dough (not baked yet in this picture)
The finished 6-strand braided challah loaf
*If you wish to use active dry yeast (not instant), you can proof the yeast in a bowl with 1/2 cup warm water and 1 tablespoon sugar (this is not in addition to the ingredients called for in the recipe, but rather part of the water called for). Allow yeast to foam before adding to the rest of the ingredients.
**If you wish to braid a 6-strand challah loaf, which is shown in some of the photos here, read this post, which includes a video tutorial! :)
We like to serve this fresh with butter. We don't slice ours; everyone just pulls a piece off. The leftovers can be sliced and used for challah french toast.
Updated to add: Another great way to enjoy leftover challah is in Overnight Challah French Toast! :)
This beautiful bread tastes as good as it looks! It is always a treat to have this with a meal. The texture is great, and there are a variety of toppings--butter, preserves, or even sugar and cinnamon sprinkled on top of melted butter! This bread is somewhat time-consuming to make (60 minutes encompasses the making of the dough as well as the kneading and braiding) but the effort is well-rewarded. One of my favorite breads! My rating: 10/10
Be sure to watch my videos about how to make
this beautiful 6-strand braid! It's easier than you think! :)