Braided Challah Bread
This glorious Braided Challah Bread from Baking with Julia brought back childhood memories of my first bites of this delightful, dense, and chewy loaf!
Try this Challah Bread Recipe and dazzle your friends and family with this gorgeous Jewish bread. Your kitchen will fill with a tantalizing aroma as this egg bread bakes in the oven.
Why You Must Make
- Braided challah was my absolute favorite bread as a child, it’s delicious!
- Soft, chewy, eggy. I loved it from my first bite.
- It’s perfect for French toast and other breakfast casseroles, but just as tasty smeared with some creamy butter.
This wasn’t a loaf commonly found in Ames, Iowa, where I grew up. It was on our annual family summer vacation to Aspen, Colorado, where I was exposed to my first challah bread recipe.
Wired up with anticipation, my sisters and I could never sleep the night before departure. 4 girls, dosed with banana Dramamine, piled into the back of our green Plymouth Satellite station wagon with my dad at the helm and my mom at his side.
No seat belts, no radio, no air conditioning, just each other singing, bickering, and bugging my parents for the duration of the 12-hour ride. The stretch across Nebraska was unending, but when we finally caught a glimpse of the foothills of the Rockies, our excitement was palpable.
Note: With the addition of butter, this challah recipe is not considered parve, so more of a brioche than challah. But whatever it’s labeled, it’s a winner. Parve or pareve is a Yiddish term that means the dish does not contain meat or dairy.
I made challah pretzels with half my dough, and those disappeared even faster than the loaf. Whole Wheat Challah is wonderful, too! I’ve also made a delicious, autumnal Pumpkin Challah.
I’ve never been formally trained but these are some tips that have helped me braid challah bread. It certainly helps if you grew up braiding hair, although it’s simple enough to learn even if you’re a novice braider.
- PRO-Tip: Start with the easier 3-stranded braid. There are some fun 6+ stranded loaves, but they’re for the more advanced bread baker.
- PRO-Tip: Practice with some defrosted frozen bread dough. The results won’t be quite as tasty, but you won’t have to learn both the making of the dough and how to plait at one time. I did this when teaching some friends how to braid bread and it worked well.
- Begin with forming 3 evenly sized ropes of dough. Roll them on a very lightly floured work surface, but do not stretch. The lengths and diameters should be the same.
- Start by placing all 3 ropes on a parchment-lined baking sheet and pinching the 3 ropes together on one end.
- Start the braiding process by crossing the rope on the right over the center rope, then the rope on the left over the center rope. Repeat until the braid is complete.
- Pinch the ends of the ropes together and tuck them under for a clean look.
- Allow the bread to proof per your recipe’s instructions, then glaze and bake.
- Sprinkling the top with sesame or poppy seed is a nice finishing touch.
Frequently Asked Questions
Challah is made with both eggs and oil (or butter). It is a rich bread with a light, airy texture plus a slightly yellow color. It’s a traditional Jewish yeast bread.
Brioche is a French creation and is a rich, though light, yeast bread. It can be made into loaves, but is often formed into small buns. There are special fluted molds used to create brioche à tête which are small buns with an extra dough topper creating a “tete” or head.
Challah, hallah, or challa is a Jewish bread, served on the Sabbath as well as holy days. Typically braided but it can be made into many other shapes.
It’s traditionally made without butter so it will be kosher/dairy-free. This version does contain butter so is not kosher.
Challah is braided just as you’d braid hair. The dough for one loaf is made into three equal-length ropes. To braid, they are lined up side by side, then one rope is crossed over another just as with plaiting hair.
The braids represent truth, peace, and justice.
A slice of challah is delicious with a drizzle of honey, dipped in flavored oil, but I love it with butter. Jam can also be added. Use it for toast, for sandwiches or serve it sliced with almost any meal!
You May Also Like:
- Pretzel Rolls
- Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls
- Swiss Butter Braid
- Whole Wheat Country Bread
- Homemade Pita Bread
- Potato Bread Recipe
- Braided Easter Bread
- More Bread Recipes
A delicious braided egg bread.
- 2 packages of active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup lukewarm water (about 110°)
- 1/3 cup sugar, plus a pinch
- 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, thinly sliced, plus 2 tablespoons, melted
- 1 cup warm milk
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature, plus 1 extra-large egg beaten with 1 extra-large egg yolk and 1 tablespoon water, for glazing
- About 6 cups of bread flour
- Cornmeal, for dusting
- Sesame seeds, Poppy seeds, optional
- In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water with a pinch of sugar and let it stand until it starts to bubble.
- In a medium saucepan, combine the sliced butter and the milk. Warm over low just until the butter melts. Stir in the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar, honey, and salt. Pour the milk mixture into a large bowl and stir in the yeast and the 4 eggs.
- Add the flour, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring vigorously with each addition. Stop adding flour when the dough has cleaned the sides of the bowl and it is difficult to stir.
- Grease a large bowl with 1 1/2 tablespoons of the melted butter. Place the dough in the buttered bowl and brush the top with the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of melted butter.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a thin towel and let rise in a warm spot until doubled, about 2 hours.
- Punch down the dough, then cover and let rise until doubled again, about 1 1/4 hours.
- Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and sprinkle the paper with cornmeal. On a lightly floured work surface, divide the dough in half. Cover one half with plastic wrap and divide the other half into 3 equal pieces.
- Using lightly floured hands, roll each piece into a 10-inch-long rope with tapered ends.
- Arrange the ropes side by side and just touching. Starting in the middle and working toward one end, braid the ropes together, bringing the outside ropes over the center one. Pinch the ends to seal and tuck them under.
- Turn the loaf around and repeat with the other half, this time braiding the outer ropes under the center one. Seal the ends, tuck them under and transfer the loaf to a prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough. Cover the loaves with thin towels and let rise for 35 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 375°. Brush the loaves with the egg glaze. Let stand uncovered for 10 minutes, then brush again with the glaze.
- Sprinkle with sesame seeds or poppy seeds if desired.
- Bake the loaves in the upper and lower thirds of the oven, switching the pans halfway through baking, for 35 to 45 minutes, or until they are golden and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Tent the loaves with foil if they become too brown during baking.
- Transfer to a rack and let cool thoroughly before slicing.
Total time does not include proofing times.
This recipe contains butter so is not dairy free so not kosher.
Serving Size:2 slices
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 186Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 56mgSodium: 250mgCarbohydrates: 33gFiber: 1gSugar: 4gProtein: 7g
28 Comments on “Braided Challah Bread”
Great looking bread! Love the poppy seed and sesame seed split. And your post was wonderful! It brought a smile to my face. (such great memories)
Perfect looking Challah, Liz! I so miss baking with TWD…I must get back to it! I might just back this one this week! Loved your childhood memories of driving with your family! Your dad had to be a saint, driving with four girls in the back!
Amazing looking bread! Definitely better than the store bought version.
Oh my goodness you are amazing posting two breads in one day! Your challah looks beautiful. Sweet story too, Liz =)
Ooo, such a festive looking challah! That road trip sounds fun 🙂 No “are we there yet?”
Love the loaf and the story!! 🙂 It was delicious bread!!
I totally love challah, too! And no seat belts? you made me remember those days, too! And the Paradise Bakery-I used to love Main Street in Aspen. Bit different now-but still good. I always use butter in my challah unless I am taking it somewhere where I know they keep Kosher.
Challah is so good. Your braiding is beautiful. You can tell a true baker when they turn out such pretty loaves.
Hahah, that sounds like quite a car ride! Your Challah came out perfectly, Liz! It’s hard to get the braid perfect, but you totally did. The best part of having Challah around is making french toast with the leftovers 😉
I bought a loaf of challah from Whole Foods while we were Indiana a while back. Yours is much prettier and I bet it tastes better also.
Definitely worth the effort and making it for the holidays sounds like a wonderful idea.
Oh, what a lovely loaf! I love your bits on top. I kept mine bit-less because I used it as Dorie’s French toast!
Challah is my fav too and yours looks just beautiful.
That’s one beautiful loaf, Lizzy. I’m in the bread baking mood today and this will be a perfect choice.
This looks amazing! We make a very very similar in texture sweet bread here in Greece -especially during the Easter- called ‘Tsoureki’. Tsoureki has Chios Mastic flavor. Now we ‘re really looking forward trying Challah as well! 🙂 Thank you Liz!
This challah looks incredible Liz! Love how pretty you got the braid. Challah has been on my “to try” baking list and I can only hope mine comes out half as pretty and delicious as yours 🙂
I love challah, it’s truly one of my favorite breads! Your loaf is beautiful:@)
Liz, what a wonderful post and what a picture perfect Challah – I have yet to try my hand at this recipe today and we will see where that leads us. I love that you added both sesame as well as poppy seed to the top – it does look very festive as well us utterly irrestible to me!
Have a great week!
This is gorgeous! Ever since I saw a challah I wanted to make it (I have never tried it before!) This looks great!!
Absolutely gorgeous challah, your braid is perfect!