Classic Challah Bakealong: Challenge #17

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Welcome to our January Bakealong challenge. Each month, we’ll announce a new recipe for you to try, along with helpful tips and step-by-step instructions here on our blog. We invite you to bake this striking braided Classic Challah Bread, then share a photo of your creation, tagging it #bakealong. Enjoy!

We’ve learned quite a bit from you, our readers, over the past 18 months about what makes a successful Bakealong project.

You’ve told us you love working with yeast bread; and you enjoy sampling breads from different cultures. You also appreciate learning new techniques, particularly different shaping methods. Given all of that, this Classic Challah Bakelong should make you very happy!

Classic Challah Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Classic challah is a soft loaf made with all-purpose flour (or a combination of all-purpose and whole wheat flours) and enhanced with both eggs and a sweetener (either sugar or honey).

Challah is similar in taste and texture to Greek tsoureki or Swiss zopf, but unlike those breads it’s dairy-free. Traditionally served at the Jewish Sabbath and on most holidays (save Passover), it’s safe to say challah and its many incarnations are a part of Jewish cuisine and culture in much of the world.

Classic Challah Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

What distinguishes challah from other soft white breads is its striking appearance. Shaped into a coil or braid (from simple to intricate), the loaf is a shiny, deep-mahogany brown, thanks to a coating of egg glaze before going into the oven.

So, are you ready to test your yeast bread skills with this Classic Challah Bakealong? Don’t worry, we’ll offer you plenty of support along the way (even if you’re an all-thumbs dough shaper like me!)

Learn how to braid your most beautiful challah ever with this Classic Challah Bakealong challenge. Click To Tweet

Gather your ingredients

1/2 cup lukewarm water
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey
2 large eggs
4 cups (17 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon instant yeast

First step: Weigh out 17 ounces of flour; or measure 4 cups of flour by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess. The more accurately you measure your flour, the better your bread will be; too much flour will yield a dry, heavy loaf.

Mix and knead the dough

Combine all of the dough ingredients and mix to make a rough dough.

Classic Challah Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Knead the dough — by hand, using a stand mixer, or in a bread machine — to make a soft, smooth dough. It’ll still have a slightly rough surface; that’s fine.

Classic Challah Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, and cover the bowl.

Classic Challah Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Let the dough rise

Allow the dough to rise for about 2 hours. It won’t necessarily double in bulk, but should become noticeably (if not dramatically) puffy.

Gently deflate the dough, and transfer it to a lightly greased work surface.

You may braid the challah the traditional way, into a three-strand braid. But for this Bakealong challenge, we’ll be tackling a fancier six-strand braid.

We’ll show you how to make a six-strand braid in the step-by-step photos below. But we encourage you to first watch our video, which will give you a feel for the rhythm of this braiding technique:

Classic Challah Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Divide and shape the dough

Divide the dough into six pieces. A scale is a big help in dividing the dough evenly.

Classic Challah Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Shape each piece into a rough log.

Classic Challah Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Cover the logs, and let them rest for 10 minutes.

Classic Challah Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Roll each piece into a long rope. Your goal is ropes about 20″ long; if the dough starts to shrink back as you roll, cover it and let it rest again for about 10 minutes, then resume rolling. The short rest gives the gluten a chance to relax.

Make a six-strand braid

Pinch together the ends of the strands so that all six strands are joined at one end.

Mentally number the positions of these strands 1 to 6, going left to right. The outermost strand on the left is #1; the outermost strand on the right is #6.

While the individual strands themselves will move, this numbering of positions will remain the same: looking left to right, the order of the strands is 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

Classic Challah Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Now, cross the two outer strands. That’s easy, right?

To continue and ultimately finish the braid, you’re going to repeat a sequence of four steps (labeled 1, 2, 3, 4 below) all the way through. Each photo shows where the numbered strand should end up at the completion of the step you’re performing.

Classic Challah Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

1. Cross 1 over 2 and 3.

Classic Challah Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

2. Cross 5 over 4, 3, 2, and 1.

Classic Challah Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

3. Cross 6 over 5 and 4.

Classic Challah Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

4. Cross 2 over 3, 4, 5, and 6.

Repeat those four steps:

Classic Challah Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Cross 1 over 2 and 3.

Classic Challah Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Cross 5 over 4, 3, 2, and 1.

Classic Challah Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Cross 6 over 5 and 4.

Classic Challah Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Cross 2 over 3, 4, 5, and 6.

And repeat again:

Classic Challah Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

1 over 2 and 3…

Classic Challah Bakealong via @kingarthurflour 5 over, 4, 3, 2, and 1…

Classic Challah Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

6 over 5 and 4…

Classic Challah Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

2 over 3, 4, 5, and 6.

Here’s the process one more time, in motion.

Keep repeating this sequence until you get to the end of your strands.

Classic Challah Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Gently pick up the braided loaf, and place it on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet.

Classic Challah Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Let the braid rise

Cover the loaf with lightly greased plastic wrap, and let it rise until it’s very puffy, 90 minutes to 2 hours at room temperature.

Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 375°F.

Classic Challah Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Whisk together 1 large egg and 1 tablespoon water. Brush this glaze over the risen loaf.

Bake the challah

Nest the challah on its baking sheet into another baking sheet, if you have one. This double layering of pans will help prevent the challah’s bottom crust from browning too quickly.

Put the challah into the lower third of the oven, and bake it for 20 minutes. If it’s a deep golden brown, tent it loosely with aluminum foil. If it’s not as brown as you like, check it again at 30 minutes.

Once you’ve tented the challah, bake it for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until the loaf looks and feels set and its interior registers at least 190°F on a digital thermometer.

Classic Challah Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Remove the bread from the oven, and place it on a rack to cool.

Store any leftover bread, well wrapped in plastic, at room temperature for several days; freeze for longer storage. While challah does tend to dry out after a day or so, it’s always good toasted or made into grilled sandwiches or French toast.

High-altitude adjustments

Do you bake at altitude? Check out our high-altitude baking tips.

Make it whole wheat

While challah made with 100% whole wheat flour will be heavier than that made with all-purpose flour, it will still be soft and delicious. For best flavor, we recommend substituting white whole wheat flour for the all-purpose flour. Increase the amount of water to 3/4 cup, adding up to an additional 2 tablespoons water if necessary to make a soft, smooth dough. Allow the just-mixed dough to rest for 20 minutes before kneading; this gives the flour a chance to absorb the liquid, making it easier to knead.

Make it ahead

Prepare the loaf up to the point where it’s braided and on the pan. Tent it with greased plastic wrap, and place it in the refrigerator overnight. Next morning, remove the dough from the refrigerator (keep it covered). Let it warm and rise at room temperature for 60 minutes before baking as directed.

Baking gluten-free?

The intricate braiding involved in challah doesn’t easily lend itself to the absence of gluten. We don’t recommend you try to bake gluten-free challah, but instead urge you to check out our tempting array of gluten-free bread recipes.

Classic Challah Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Take the challenge!

Are you ready to take the Classic Challah Bakealong challenge? Follow this post on your tablet or laptop, or print the recipe. And when you’re done, remember to post your photos, tagged #bakealong. We’re looking forward to seeing your gorgeous braided challah!

Classic Challah Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

photo courtesy of Anne Mientka

One final note: Our new silicone bread braiding mat offers both a reduced-stick work surface, and handy instructions for shaping a six-strand braid. 

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!

comments

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      No problem at all, Amy. A 1:1 substitute of sugar is just fine, and then add a few tablespoons of water to compensate for the lost moisture from the honey. Happy baking! Annabelle@KAF

    2. Jake Sterling

      In general, I have had good luck substituting Golden Syrup for honey. Lyle’s is the most common brand and is from the UK. Golden syrup is a byproduct of cane sugar refining and has a delicious, slightly caramel flavor. You can get Lyle’s Golden Syrup from King Arthur. You can also get Golden Syrup that is made in the USA from a company in Alabama. It’s called *Golden Eagle Syrup*. I’ve heard that it is better than Lyle’s but I haven’t tried it so I can’t say for sure. Golden Eagle is a bit cheaper, but harder to find in the North; however, I recently googled the company and you can get it from them by mail order.

    3. Zofia F

      If not honey, I have had great results using maple syrup! Substitute 1/4 cup maple syrup for the 1/4 cup honey.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Certainly, Dolly. You’ll simply have to add in additional water a tablespoon at a time to compensate for the extra liquid bread flour absorbs. 4-6 tablespoons should be plenty sufficient. Happy baking! Annabelle@KAF

    2. David Ehrlich

      I always use bread flour for challah — it rises higher than AP flour, and makes a beautiful, somewhat larger loaf. I knead the dough a good 10 minutes before the first rise, to activate the gluten; after that, the rises are always impressive.

    3. PJ Hamel, post author

      David, bread flour, with its higher protein level, can indeed provide a great rise. And, as always, there are numerous paths to good results: we find we enjoy the combination of tender texture and good rise provided by all-purpose flour in this recipe. Whatever works and makes you happy, that’s the way to go. PJH@KAF

    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Lucy, I like to combine the ingredients at speed #2 using the beater attachment, mixing until everything comes together and the dough forms a ball. Then I switch to the dough hook and knead for about 7 minutes, again at speed #2. I’ll go a bit longer if the dough doesn’t seem supple enough. Hope this helps — PJH

  1. Rachel

    My challah always seems to rise in the oven, breaking the brown glaze where the strands meet. So I lose the very even all-over brown color as shown in the pictures. Could it be that after braiding I need to allow the loaf should rise longer?

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Rachel, I think everyone’s challah breaks apart a bit at the seams of the braid; you can see the “stretch marks” in the recipe photo at the top. This is due to oven spring, the natural increased activity of yeast when it hits the oven’s high heat. All I can suggest is making sure you’ve thoroughly coated the loaf with the glaze, even letting it pool in those seams around the braid strands where it’s most likely to expand. Good luck — hope this helps. PJH@KAF

    2. Sherri

      I have learned over time that if I allow the Challah to rise longer, until the dough is almost over proofed and a bit jiggly like Jello when touched, that I don’t have pronounced stretch marks and the loaf is evenly browned.

    3. Mary P

      I just tried something new—I removed the challah from the over after the first ten minutes and applied a second egg wash. It covered the lighter areas as the bread starts to expand in the oven and yields a glorious, lacquered crust!

    4. Bonnie M Bateman

      I had the same problem, my challah was delicious, but didn’t rise as high as I’d have liked. I later figured out that I was brushing on too much egg glaze and it was running down into the crevices of the braid and sealing them. When I was stingier with the glaze, the unglazed crevice provided good oven spring and my bread was lighter, with a higher loaf.

  2. Monica Soule

    I’ve made this Classic Challah many times, but only as a three strand braid. I’m going to have to up my game!

    Reply
  3. Carla

    This is wonderful bread. I do my six strand braid a little different…but the main thing is to find a method and stick with it. The four strand is very pretty too. when I need to take someone bread…this is at the top of my list. I think they like it best for French Toast!!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Carla, you’re absolutely right – if you have a braiding method you know and like, stick with it! True in so many aspects of baking, right? There’s usually not simply one “correct” way to do something. And I agree: French toast or grilled sandwiches are absolutely delicious with challah! PJH@KAF

  4. Thomas

    Can I make this with sourdough starter? I’m pretty new to bread making, but I just ordered sourdough starter from you guys and am excited to use it, plus this bread looks so cool!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Thomas, you could… but challah isn’t really a bread that takes well to sourdough, since it’s got its own mild sweetness that tends to fight with sourdough’s tang. I’d suggest you get your starter going and try some of the basic recipes that came with it. When you become an accomplished sourdough baker, you can try working some starter into this challah recipe — just enough, and using the optimal amounts of fermentation, to enrich the bread’s flavor without making it sour. Best of luck with your new starter! PJH@KAF

  5. Abby Farber

    Hi – I really want to try this but am a little intimidated by the 6-strand braiding. Could you possibly re-post the YouTube video…..but turn it upside down for those of us (me) who will be running the video a few times while braiding? I know you have the still photos and the video is SO helpful…..but upside down. (If I turn my iPad upside down the video rotates…) Thanks KAF!

    Reply
    1. Pat

      Try using the lock orientation button. It looks like a lock. You can then turn your tablet upside down and the video won’t rotate

    2. BGinBmore

      You can lock the iPad rotation, either from the Control Center or by using a switch on the side

  6. Elie

    OK, although I love what you guys do and I only want to offer positive comments, I do have to admit that this is a very American, not very traditionally European-Jewish, looking challah.
    The knuckles in the braiding are too tight and small, the height is too low, the loaf is too long and narrow, and the dough is too sweet.
    This is also quite a rich dough for my tradition.
    However, if you ignore my peanut gallery commentary, do yourself a favor and shmear the challah with some good ‘ole shmaltz and add a handful of gribenes on top and you’ve got yourself quite the delicacy!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Not ignoring your comments at all, Elie — always glad to hear from an expert! Yes, this is no doubt an Americanized version of challah; it’s inevitable that the “true” European-Jewish challah would morph on its way across continents, oceans, and centuries. That said, I think we can all enjoy different versions; and while I’ve never had either schmaltz or gribenes (though I know what they are), if I ever have the opportunity I’ll definitely give ’em a go! Thanks for connecting here — PJH@KAF

    2. Bonnie M Bateman

      I like challah the way I grew up with on the East Coast in jewish bakeries. Fewer knobs, so that each knob is a serving of bread, risen as tall as possible and somewhat stubbier. It all tastes the same, but we like what we like…

  7. Jessica Clary

    I’m going to tackle this one on Sunday! I’ve only made bread in a bread machine but want to get into doing it by hand (especially since the bread machine has died!). Can’t wait to see how it goes!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      There’s always the chance you may need to make some slight adjustments based on the environment in your kitchen, Henry, but as long as you’re measuring your flour using a scale or the KAF method, 1/2 cup should be just about right. There’s a lot else that moistens this dough, like eggs, oil, and honey. Happy baking! Mollie@KAF

  8. Johnny M

    I’m in the middle of making this bread right now and braiding video really helped me out. Great challenge for the new year!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Johnny, so glad to hear the video is a help. It can be complicated when you’re just learning, until you get the hang of it; I found the video (which I stopped and started continually) was a big help to me, too. Enjoy — PJH@KAF

    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Trent, I’d use the same recipe, but make the strands thinner; depending on how many strands you might reach a point of no return where you HAVE to make the recipe larger, but too much larger and the bread won’t fit on a typical baking sheet. Good luck — PJH@KAF

  9. Tammy

    I’ve been making challah for years using a recipe very similar to yours (except I use sugar rather than honey), and was very happy to join this month’s baking challenge. I usually make a full recipe but make 2 loaves instead of 1, so while I finally mastered the 6-strand braid, I prefer to make a 4-strand braid for these smaller loaves. I’ll post pictures of my finished loaves on Instagram with your hashtag.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Tammy, thanks — we’ll look forward to seeing those 4-strand braids on Instagram soon! PJH@KAF

    2. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Karen, smaller loaves will bake faster than larger loaves, so check for doneness around 15 minutes and tent with foil if it’s getting too brown. The loaves may take as much as 20-25 minutes to bake through fully, depending on size. If you have an instant-read thermometer, check the internal temperature. It should reach 190°F when it’s done. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Tamara, some challahs will have chocolate chips kneaded into the dough; I suggest doing that after the first rise, just before braiding. Once braided, be sure to tuck any chips on top down beneath the dough’s surface, so they don’t burn while the challah bakes. I’ve also seen recipes for “chocolate challah,” where there’s a swirl of chocolate throughout the bread; these are actually chocolate babka. We did chocolate babka as a Bakealong last year; check out our recipe, I’m sure you’ll love it. PJH@KAF

  10. Valerie

    I don’t know what I’m doing wrong, but I just threw my second batch of dough away. I can’t get my dough to rise even with brand new fresh yeast. I got a little bit more rise on the second batch, but I had to let it sit for about 3 1/2 hours. When I tried to roll the logs, they were tight rocks that kept snapping back into place. I can’t wait until February bakealong! Maybe I’ll have better luck with that one!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Valerie, so sorry! It sounds to me like you’re using too much flour; the drier the dough, the harder it is for it to rise, and the more difficult it is to roll out the strands. If you do try this again, try cutting back the flour a bit; the dough shouldn’t be so sticky that it sticks all over your hands, but it should feel soft and supple, not tight. Please watch this video, how to measure flour, for the optimum way to measure your King Arthur Flour for our recipes. And good luck with Bakealong going forward — thanks so much for your willingness to hop on board and try new things! PJH@KAF

    2. Valerie

      Hi PJ, thanks for replying. I weighed my flour on my digital kitchen scale, but I wonder if I’m not kneading it long enough.

    3. Bonnie M Bateman

      Maybe your house is a little cold in winter. Mine certainly is. So I proof my bread at 78-80 degrees, in my home-made proofing box (a clear plastic file tote with a heating pad set to low. I use my instant read probe thermometer to monitor the temp, and sometimes it proofs almost too fast. People also proof in a closed oven or on top of the refrigerator. And I agree that experience counts with the amount of water you need at different times of the year.

  11. Pilar

    I am dying to try this. My family loves raisin challah (we usually buy at a local bakery). Possible to add raisins to this recipe? Would anything have to change in order to do so? Thanks!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Pilar, go ahead and add raisins; sounds like a great addition. I suggest kneading them in after the first rise in the bowl, just before braiding; that way their sweetness bleeding out into the dough won’t slow down that initial rise. Do try to tuck any raisins that end up sticking out on top underneath the dough once the braid is rolled, as they’ll burn quite badly otherwise. Good luck! PJH@KAF

  12. Nicole

    Is it possible to freeze? If so, at what stage can I freeze it and how do I bake it once I take it out of the freezer?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Nicole, you can freeze the dough at three different points. You can freeze it right after the dough is kneaded before it rises the first time; after the dough has risen once and then the loaf is shaped; or after the loaf has been baked entirely. We tend to prefer the last option, as it ensures the final crust color and texture turn out well. If you’d like to try freezing the shaped loaf, cover it well in plastic and freeze for up to a month. When you’re ready to bake, let the loaf thaw in the fridge overnight (or the unshaped dough, if you’ve frozen it at that step). The next day, take it out and shape it if necessary, then let it proof slightly at room temperature until it looks puffy. (This may take up to a few hours depending on the temperature of your kitchen.) Once it looks nicely risen, bake as directed in the recipe. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  13. Emily Barre

    Quick question, I’m excited and ready for the challenge this morning but I was wondering if I can use coconut oil in place of vegetable oil?
    We started using coconut oil in place of butter a few years ago, so I keep that on hand, but I hate subbing on a new recipe and I don’t have vegetable oil in the house.
    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Emily, you’re welcome to use coconut oil in place of the vegetable oil in the recipe. Just be sure to warm it up slightly before adding it to the rest of the ingredients so that it’s in a liquid state. No other adjustments are necessary. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  14. Gay

    Made the 6 strand challah. Picture perfect! Of course used video. My first challah! I weighed each piece to make equal strands. I was an ounce short on honey and I do believe it was definitely needed. I did bake until 180F but thought I should have removed it from the oven earlier. Delicious but a tiny bit overdone. So easy!

    Reply
  15. Heather Hem

    Wow this is exciting! I am “new” to baking and this looks like fun. My first bread was the Cinnamon Star – beautiful and delish! Can’t wait to try this one – today in fact! I got an Instagram account for this reason – just to post the pictures. One thing I have learned with yeast breads is patience!

    Reply
    1. Jani

      I totally agree! I, too, am new to baking, especially bread, and I am learning so much from these Bakealongs. And I’m impressing people along the way, which is always nice! 🙂

  16. Gretchen

    I tried making this bread, but it was very dry and knocked the bowl off the stand when I tried kneading it. I had measured the flour so I tried again. This time I weighed the flour and was very careful of all measurements.i noticed that by weighing it, I used about 1/4 c. less, but the dough was not much looser than the first, but I decided to bake them. The first came out fair with a heavy bottom crust. The second sat longer, but was easier rolling into logs. Both looked beautiful coming out of the oven, but the second one was tough. Does letting it rise for too long cause this? I loved working the 6 braids and noe feel quite accomplished! I’ll try it again one day soon. In the meantime the second loaf is being turned into crumbs. No waste.

    Reply
    1. Susan Reid

      Gretchen, it’s always a good idea to keep some of the flour (between 1/2 and 1 cup) called for in a recipe out of the mixing bowl, and only add it a bit at a time if the dough is still sticking to your hands or the mixing bowl as you knead it. Flour can be quite variable, becoming very dry in the winter and absorbing moisture from the air in summertime. Winter recipes usually need less flour for that reason. It’s much easier to keep some aside and not use it than it is to increase the moisture in a dough that’s already formed. The dough should feel soft and supple. If it’s stiff and more like play dough, there’s too much flour! Susan

  17. Gwen

    Delicious! I replaced honey with sugar and used white wheat flour and put loads of poppy seeds on top and was very agreeably surprised. Thanks for the recipe! 🙂

    Reply
  18. Jo9rdy

    My Grandma made this bread but she used three sets of braids and pinched them at the ends and she also put raisins in it.

    Reply
  19. Abby J Altshuler

    Came out great and was fun to make. I’m at 7000′ so gave it a second rise but otherwise didn’t change amounts. I DO weigh the flour as it is SO different than going by cups. How do I post a pic on your site, I don’t use Twitter but do use fb, do I post it there?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Facebook is perfect, Abby! You can either post it to our wall, or post it on your own wall and tag us @kingarthurflour. Thanks for sharing! Annabelle@KAF

  20. Sue Cohen

    I am definitely going to try this braiding method with my recipe. I use 8(!) egg yolks in my batter with 4 cups of bread flour. The result is a very tender and rich crumb and thick crust. I also find that allowing the second rise to happen in the refrigerator overnight gives the bread more flavor. I definitely need to allow the dough to rest before braiding. I find I get “bounce back” which results in uneven braids. Thanks for the tips!

    Reply
  21. Tracy

    Hi PJ and KAF! Thanks for the bakealong. I made a few recipes last year but hoping to try all the bakes in 2018.

    So I made the challah yesterday. I fought with the braid but eventually got it (thank you for the photos!). Video needed to run a second time at half speed, lol. Anyways, after the first 20 minutes in the oven it started burning and even after being tented. :(. Just one side burned, so we’re enjoying 80% of it. I want to try again. Lower the oven temp? Any advice would be great. Thanks!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Tracy. Thanks for giving this recipe a go! I’ve had the same problem on a couple of occasions where it just got too dark for my liking too quickly. I found tenting the loaf at the 15 minute mark is effective in that you still have a nice golden color, but it’s not going to be blackened by the time your timer goes off! Annabelle@KAF

  22. Cyndi

    Yay! Finally something I felt like I could bake and eat. I made this yesterday and it looked just like the picture. I sprinkled sesame seeds on after basting with egg wash and baked as directed. Came out perfect and was very tasty. I did the 6 strand braid, which was a challenge because I could not see the pattern to it but it was fun to do and will definitely do it again. (Thank goodness for the braiding video) Thanks for a fun recipe to start the year.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Cyndi, you’ve mastered another technique – the six-strand braid! I struggled trying to get the hang of it myself, until it finally clicked; but it’s a tough one, so congratulations. Glad you enjoyed it! PJH@KAF

  23. Jo Anne

    This was by far, the best loaf of Challah I have ever baked. By following the instructions to tent, the outside was perfectly browned, while the inside was amazingly chewy, the way I expect Challah to be. I have been baking Challah for years, and have never achieved that perfection! I have always tried “tweaking”… was I over-kneading, under-kneading, too much liquid, too much flour, etc. I compared this recipe to the one I had been using. It was different, so I decided to give it a go. So glad I did. We devoured the loaf! And as for the braiding… I had already mastered the four-strand braid, and by following the video, was able to produce a lovely six-strand braid. I have replaced the old Challah recipe with this one… quite possibly the best loaf of any kind I have ever made!

    Reply
  24. Vagelis

    Tsoureki tastes and looks 100 times better from Challah, of course due to the fact that there is actual taste and flavor in it. Milk, orange, butter, mahlab or mahlepi, anise, cardamom, and mastic. Best tasting sweet bread you will ever have in your life. Google it and make it. Satisfactikn guaranteed!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Vagelis, we prefer to think of baking as a sharing activity, rather than a competition. It’s OK for everyone to have their own favorites, based on personal preference. Thanks for the shout-out for tsoureki, though — here’s our recipe, for those interested. And feel free to post your recipe here so we can enjoy it with you! PJH@KAF

  25. Ratty

    Great recipe! I followed the instructions to braid the bread and it worked!! Question: how do I post a picture of my bread for the BakeAlong?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Ratty, we’re so pleased to hear about your challah success! You can post a photo of your bread on our Facebook page or on Instagram using #kingarthurflour, and we’ll be sure to see it. We look forward to seeing your loaf! Kye@KAF

  26. Hanita

    I’ve been baking challah for nearly 50 years, and what strikes me about this recipe is how much oil it uses. Can you explain its purpose? An alternative would be to use only 2 tablespoons of oil and add an extra egg.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Hanita, most of our challah recipes have a comparable amount of oil in them because it’s one of the prime ingredients responsible for the soft, moist, and tender texture of the bread. You’re welcome to experiment with reducing the oil and adding an extra egg instead, noting that the bread may not be quite as tender or stay fresh for as long without the full amount of oil. Kye@KAF

  27. Diane McKenna

    I made this for the first time yesterday. It looks beautiful but didn’t rise much and has a cake like texture. Tastes good but not like Challah I have purchased in the bakery. I am new to yeast baking. I use one of your no knead recipes often and it says the water temp should be about 110 degrees. This seems more than lukewarm but that recipe rises nicely. Should I go with the 110 as “lukewarm”? I also used my Christmas gift Kitchenaid mixer for the first time to make dough. It seemed dry and cracked apart even though thoroughly blended. I see your suggestion to use the beater and then the dough hook. Will try that the next time!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Diane, kudos to you as a new bread baker for tackling this project! It sounds to me like you maybe using a bit too much flour, given what you say about the bread’s texture, lack of rise, and cracking as you prepared the dough. If you don’t measure by weight, be sure to fluff the flour in the bag or canister first, then sprinkle it gently into a dry measuring cup (measuring cup designed for dry ingredients – i.e., no lip on the edge), and level it off. You can also raise the water temperature, but that’s a short-term fix; a softer, more supple dough would be better. Good luck next time! PJH@KAF

  28. Maria Roberts

    I live at 7000 feet. I was always told to use bread flour instead of all purpose flour. Do you have any suggestions in this regard?
    I know how to adjusted leavenings, so that isn’t the issue, just the type of flour.
    Thank you

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Maria, no need to use bread flour here; stick to all-purpose, so your resulting challah is a bit more tender. Adjust the yeast/rising as you usually do. Good luck — PJH@KAF

  29. Marilyn

    This bread is good, but I’d like to give it a little more of an egg taste. To add an egg or an egg yolk, how must I balance other ingredients?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Marilyn, if you’d like to add an additional egg to the dough, reduce the liquid by 1/4 cup and add more water only as needed to make a smooth, slightly tacky dough. If you only add the yolk, reduce the water by 2 tablespoons to start. We hope that helps, and happy baking! Kye@KAF

  30. Heather

    I found out I’m a perfectionist with very little patience to 6 strand braid. I also lacked the counter space and had to attempt it while positioned at a wonky angle. Gave up and just did three strand braid. Had to add at least a cup more flour then recipe called for so worried it won’t taste great. It was such a goopy unkneadable mess with just the amount I weighed out per recipe.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Heather, the dough should be just slightly tacky to the touch, so we’re glad you followed your baking instincts and added more flour to make a workable dough. Sometimes this is necessary when using a low-protein content flour (like other brands other than King Arthur Flour). In these cases, add additional flour until the dough comes together and is smooth and bouncy. We hope your challah still turned out deliciously! Kye@KAF

  31. Ellen

    I am in the middle of making this now, and after some trial and error got the braid done. The dough didn’t seem to rise much at all during the first rise. I weigh all of my ingredients, and my kitchen is usually pretty cold, so I have the folding bread proofer for baking. Could I have not kneaded the dough long enough? I used my KitchenAid and kneaded for 7 minutes on #2. The dough looked pretty much like the first picture, but it didn’t really get puffy, even after three hours in the proofer. The braid is currently rising, so I’ll have to see if that gets puffy.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Ellen, this bread isn’t a huge riser either as dough in the bowl, or shaped loaf. But once it gets into the oven it should rise pretty dramatically. Your kneading time/speed sounds fine, so hopefully you ended up with a beautiful loaf! PJH@KAF

  32. Kathleen L Kelm

    The six strand bread is beautiful. There is a 7 strand method I was taught for the Sabbath loaf based on making 2 three stand braids and stacking. Quarter the dough, then quarter one of the quarters again. Follow the instructions for creating the strands. Braid the three big quarters and the three little quarters, then make a strand of the lonely leftover strand. Stack the little braid on the big one and crown the bread with the 7th strand, the Sabbath. This makes a triangular bread slice.

    Reply
    1. Becky

      Kathleen, I make Houska and it stacks like your instructions — but they always fall over in the oven!!!! How do you keep that from happening???? I’ve tried putting in toothpicks/skewers and using moisture between the layers. Do you have suggestions??? It would be beautiful if it didn’t fall over!

  33. Gina

    This recipe was simple, yet yielded a fine loaf of challah. Excellent texture/crumb. Impressive braided loaf! This will now be my go-to for challah bread!
    Using some 3-day old leftover to make bread pudding right now.

    Reply
  34. Sandra Roth

    Have been making challah for years and your recipe is the best. Will now use it instead of my older one. Using the 6 strand braid is perfect as it rises high, looks amazing and the taste is delicious. Love the challenges and have participated in many of them with some successful & some not.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      So good to hear praise from an experienced challah baker, Sandra – thank you! PJH@KAF

  35. Elaine G. King

    When I learned to make Challah many years ago, I was taught to make a three strand braid, and then a smaller three strand one to go on top of the first one. My mother’s family is French, so I wonder if anyone else was taught to do it this way.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Elaine, I’ve seen challahs made this way, and they’re beautiful. So many different ways to shape challah, aren’t there? Thanks for sharing here — PJH@KAF

  36. GO

    Based on the comments, I think my dough has too much flour. I kneaded it by hand and it is pretty stiff. I am about half hr into the first rise. Any interventions recommended at this point, or just go ahead and see how it turns out? Thanks.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      At this point, it’s difficult to add more water, which it sounds like is what your dough might need. You can try mixing in a few teaspoons of water to see if the dough will absorb it, but you may just need to bake your loaf and see how it turns out. (Bread pudding is a fantastic way to use up bread that might otherwise not get eaten.) Next time, be sure you’re either measuring your flour by weight using or scale or this fluff-sprinkle-sweep technique shown here. We hope that helps, and happy baking! Kye@KAF

  37. Rob Blakeley

    I substituted 10% wheat flour and used bread flour. Added a bit more water to compensate. Tastes good, rose very well. Crumb was a bit “grainy” compared to the “stringy” of store-bought. Was that due to the flour type? Not enough water?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Rob, we wonder if you might simply have needed even a little more water in your dough. This could be true simply when baking in the dry winter, but especially so when using flours (like both whole wheat and bread flour) that absorb more liquid. Dry dough will create a more tight-knit loaf, one where the gluten strands are less extensible and more likely to break apart. Mollie@KAF

  38. Lorraine Brochu

    Challah v. 1, made the mistake of trying to knead dough with (apparently) dying bread machine – and disregarding the liquids first rule. Bread a horrible, shrunken carb mess.

    Still, she persisted.

    Challah v. 2, kneaded by hand, liquids blended together then added to flour, turned out a treat with beautifully soft dough. Used melted butter in lieu of vegetable oil. Bread bakers probably know this, but I discovered that one package of yeast is not a tablespoon and must be supplemented. Lessons learned, I’ll make this pretty bread again.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We’re thrilled to hear that your persistence paid off, Lorraine. Keep up the good work! Mollie@KAF

  39. Monica Soule

    Well, I hate to admit it, but the six strand braid totally defeated me. I read PJ’s instructions, I watched the video, I braided while watching the video (stopping it, starting it). Then I braided while looking at PJ’s instructions. By that time my strands were a dried out mess, so I gave up and just pinched two strands together and made a traditional three strand braid. I hope it rises and doesn’t turn into a Challah brick. I’m a pretty visual learner and I usually see the patterns in things quickly, but not this time! I’ll have to practice this using different colors of yarn or ribbon. In the meanwhile, I’m labeling this one #epicfail. Lol

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We really are sorry to hear it, Monica, but we’re also really confident that you’ll get the hang of it eventually. Keep us posted on your progress practicing! Mollie@KAF

  40. Laura

    Oh my goodness! What a beautiful Challah bread! I’ve mastered a five strand bread (after a few disasters!) but this six strand is just gorgeous. I saw someone’s suggestion of using different coloured ribbons to help get the hang of this & I think that’s what I’ll have to do.
    At the fear of sounding like a know-it-all, I see a patten of first or second timers having trouble with their bread cracking or ending up brick-like, even though they weighed the flour religiously. One thing about making bread that the more seasoned bread makers know is that flour is very fickle. If it is very humid outside, you may need less flour; if it is dry & cold, you may need more. The general rule of thumb is to weigh the flour, then take a cup out before you start mixing. It’s easier to add more flour than to take it out! I’ve seen this tip mentioned in the comments, but quite often it’s too late. I think it may help the newer breadmakers if this is mentioned in the recipe. Just an idea!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Laura, thank you SO much for bringing up this subject! As you say, flour can be very “fickle,” absorbing moisture from the air during hot, humid weather, or drying out when it’s cold/dry out. The result? A recipe that worked just fine in the summer may make noticeably dry dough in winter (and vice versa). I like your suggestion of leaving a cup of flour out, then adding it gradually as needed. Thanks so much – ditto for the colored ribbon tip. We were thinking of putting food color in our dough, but ended up thinking it might just look too muddy (AND be a waste of perfectly good dough!). Next time – ribbons! Thanks again — PJH@KAF

    2. Tonia

      Laura – I live in a semi-arid area (north central WA state) and generally need to add more water than what is called for in most ALL recipes. I use all flour called for along with all liquid, then always have and extra cup of warm water ready to slowly drizzle in until I know the dough is right. I always like when a recipe indicates what the finished dough should be like in texture (soft, firm, slightly tacky, etc.). AND I especially like the pictures KAF have to show what should look like! 🙂

  41. Laura

    I was told to decrease my salt. I have in the past used 3/4 tsp for 3 cups flour. Is it possible to use less salt and what would be the effect. Could the freshly ground kosher or pink salt work for the measurements.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Absolutely, Laura. Pink Himalayan salt is a favorite, and it can be swapped out in this recipe no problem. Happy baking! Annabelle@KAF

  42. Jo Anne

    I am making this bread yet again as it is definitely popular in our house! My question is this… if I want to have two loaves, can I double the recipe and weigh out my strands from the large blob of doubled dough, or should I mix and raise the two batches separately?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Jo Anne. As a general rule of thumb, you can typically double a yeast bread recipe no problem. Anymore than than and the ratios can get a bit out of whack. Weighing your dough into strands should be perfect. Happy baking! Annabelle@KAF

  43. Daniel

    That braiding video is crazy. It’s like it’s upside down. It would be more helpful to see the braiding from the baker’s point of view, which would be my point of view. I’ve been trying to braid for half an hour. I stopped to admire my work half way through and then I lost my place. I do like a challenge though!

    Reply
  44. Tonia

    Made whole wheat challah — my version!
    Overnight starter
    1 c white whole wheat
    1/4 tsp. instant yeast
    1 1/4 cup water
    Combine all, cover and let work overnight at cool room temp.
    Next morning: Add oil, honey, salt, eggs (as called for in KAF recipe) 2 teaspoons instant yeast and 3 cups AP flour to starter, mix as indicated adding more warm water if needed (I live in north central WA state and it is very dry here so I needed about 1/2 cup more water). Proceed with KAF’s recipe as indicated.
    I did bake at 350F for about 40 minutes on a doubled baking pan. AND I made two small loaves at opposed to one BIG loaf. Turned out delicious!!! 🙂

    Reply
  45. RS

    I used half white flour and half white whole wheat and added a little extra water, the dough was still very dry. How much water would I add if I tied to mix the 2 flours again? We have had successs with odor going this half and half mixture on a few of the recipes we got from here.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi RS, you shouldn’t need to add too much additional liquid when replacing half of the flour with white whole wheat. It’s possible that you’re simply using too much flour, which is causing the dough to be dry and stiff. To ensure you’re using the right amount, either measure your flour by weight using a scale (1 cup of white whole wheat flour = 4 ounces), or use this fluff, sprinkle, sweep method. Add additional water until the dough feels just slightly tacky to the touch. We hope that helps, and happy baking! Kye@KAF

  46. Efrain Vargas-Hernandez

    Good morning from New Jersey,
    I made the six-strand Challah bread and it was awesome and very delicious alone or with anything you want on top. Thank you so much. I can alway depend on your recipes KAF.

    Reply
  47. Amy

    Due to an egg allergy in my family, we make a water challah instead (I believe this it is a Sephardic version of the egg challah). For the glaze, I use a maple syrup & milk mix. My kids like to have one loaf made with cinnamon. For this, I roll out the logs, spread a thick layer of cinnamon butter on it and roll it back into a log before braiding.

    I’m looking forward to trying out your tips for rolling and resting the dough and using a digital thermometer. Last week, I baked my challah in my combi-steam oven and got beautiful, soft results. This week, I’m going to do my own bake-off with one in the combi-steam and one in the regular oven with the thermometer. I’m anxious to see the results!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Amy, sounds like you’re a challah veteran; the maple syrup/milk glaze sounds tasty indeed. Keep experimenting — that’s the best way to learn. I hope you get just as pleasing results from your regular oven as you did from the combi-steam. Cheers! PJH@KAF

  48. Melynda

    Have made this twice now – each time easier to do. Big hit with my family. I did add a third egg on my second try as the dough was a bit too dry the first go – maybe my large eggs are not as large as you expect? Anyway – it made a perfect dough and a gorgeous bread with this one change. Having done the cinnamon star bread and now this – I can’t wait for the next challenge.

    Reply
  49. Bonnie M Bateman

    I’ve made several of these delicious challahs, learned a lot, but especially not to over knead (makes it tough), not to over-proof the second rise (the loaf comes out flatter) and also NUTELLA ! I was raised buttering this bread, but oooh!, a Nutella spread? Yum.

    Reply
  50. douglas miraldi

    I just made this bread, and it turned out great , the bread was a golden brown and I did just like you said and tented it. 2/ 3/ 18 thank you great bread.

    Reply
  51. jean

    I keep all my flour in the freezer. I pulled a sack of white whole wheat flour. Now the problem is the expiration is 2 years old. When I bought it was before my health was really bad. So is it still usable or should I throw and get fresh.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We appreciate the desire to get the most out of your product, Jean, it’s only natural! However, we simply can’t guarantee the performance or safety of any product past its best-by date. Annabelle@KAF

  52. Jasmine Wang

    Hi,

    I tried this recipe weighing out the flour, but I’m concerned I used too much flour because I got a really dense loaf of bread (instead of a light and fluffy bread). My question is, how long should I knead the dough before? will that result in a tough, dense loaf, or was the flour the problem? I also made sure the yeast wasn’t past its expiration date. It also didn’t rise very much, if that helps in troubleshooting!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Jasmine. We’re glad you reached out! It definitely sounds like there was too much flour, which is a common problem in dryer months. Ideally, you want the dough to be tacky, like a sticky note, and soft like your cheek when you poke it. As far as kneading goes, most doughs take about 5-7 minutes in a stand mixer on speed 2, or 10-12 minutes kneading by hand. It sounds like you did everything right, it just needed a couple tablespoons of extra water to compensate for the dry air. Hope this helps! Annabelle@KAF

  53. Kristin

    I made this bread over the weekend, on a rare day when I had all the time in the world to let it rise, and it came out beautiful and yummy. My bread-making dilemma is that I don’t generally have the time to make a loaf uninterrupted, start-to-finish because I have two busy little boys and am in the thick of their school and extracurricular activities. How flexible is this dough if I had to let it sit for an extra hour or two during one of the risings, because I have to leave the house to pick up my kids from school? I run into this problem ALL THE TIME with all kinds of breads, but the longer the risings called for, the more of a problem it is.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We’re glad to hear your enjoyed this recipe, Kristin. Your dilemma is a common one! This bread works beautifully when you make the dough the day before, let it have its first rise, shape it, and then stick it in the fridge overnight. You can pull it out and bake it the next day, and it doesn’t need more than an hour to get puffy after removing it from the fridge. This is a safer way to spread out bread baking than letting rises go longer than needed. When you give a loaf an extra hour or so to rise, it tends to overrise and then collapse, giving you a denser, heavier loaf. I hope the fridge tip can work for you and your family! Annabelle@KAF

  54. Mary

    Hi
    I made his and loved it and want to make it again and wondered if I could mix the dough and let it rise in the fridge overnight , then let it come to room temp in the morning and braid , do the 2nd rise. Would that work?

    Also to sub half of the flour with white whole wheat, did you all say not to adjust the amount of water ? I think I read that, but there are tons of comments !!

    Thank you !

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Mary, you’re welcome to use the approach you’ve suggested: complete the first rise in the fridge overnight. We tend to let the shaped loaf rest in the fridge so it’s ready to bake the next day, but you can opt for chilling the first rise if you prefer. (Just note that it may take a few hours for the dough to come to room temperature and proof after shaping, longer than indicated in the recipe.) We didn’t need to adjust the amount of water in the dough when we used half whole wheat flour, but you may need to depending on your environment. If the dough feels stiff or dry, add 1-2 tablespoons of water to see if that helps. The dough should feel supple and smooth. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

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