When we moved to Seattle, I realized that it was going to be harder to find groceries, pastries, bread, and other food items that we used to eat back home. On Fridays, Challah was a staple in our home. All we needed to do was to visit any grocery store and buy a warm and fresh loaf. The first year of relocation was the hardest. There were so many things to adapt to, so I didn’t have the energy to try and cook new things. Very slowly, I learned how to do many things on my own that we liked and missed. For sure, there is nothing like the smell of fresh-baked Challah in the house. After trying different recipes, I am sharing with you the one that I love the most! And you don’t need to be a pastry chef to make it.
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The Only Challah Recipe You’ll Ever Need
- 3 1/2 cups (500 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon (10 grams) active dry yeast
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) canola oil+ a little more for greasing
- 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 1/4 cup (300ml) lukewarm water
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
For the topping:
- 1 egg
- A handful of sesame seeds
- In the bowl of a standing mixer with a dough hook, put flour and yeast (or in a large mixing bowl if kneading by hand) and mix/stir for one minute.
- Add egg, oil, and mix for one minute.
- Add sugar, water **read my tip about water below), and mix to form the dough.
- Add the salt and knead for 10-15 minutes (It helps the gluten form and the dough to be elastic with better structure).
- Grease the dough with a little bit of oil, cover with a kitchen towel and let the dough rise until doubled (place the bowl somewhere warm).
- Separate the dough into 3 equal pieces.
- Roll each piece of dough into a long rope.
- Gather the ropes and squeeze them together at the very top. Braid the ropes together like braiding hair and squeeze the ends together when complete.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the Challah on it.
- Place the pan somewhere warm, cover with a towel, and let it rise until puffed, about an hour.
- Heat the oven to 400°F/200°C. When ready to bake, whisk the egg with a tablespoon of water and brush it all over the Challah.
- Sprinkle on sesame seeds.
- Slide the Challah on its baking sheet into the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. The Challah is done when it is deeply golden brown (registers 190°F/90°C in the very middle with an instant-read thermometer).
- Let the Challah cool on a cooling rack. Enjoy!
Tips and Tricks:
- Eggs: I like to use eggs at room temperature.
- Water: Because each flour is different, stored differently, and has different absorption capacities, the amount of liquid will almost always change. Even if you always make the same flour, it may be that on different days, the flour will absorb more liquid than before. So, start with half a cup of water and add as needed gradually. The dough should be very soft but not sticky. Dough that lacks liquid will be stiffer and much less comfortable to work with. The water temperature should be warm.
- The first rise: Most recipes will recommend about an hour and a half or until the dough has doubled. But that figure can also change radically, especially if it's particularly cold weather, which will then require a few hours for the dough to increase in size. In summer, it can be much shorter.
- Shape: Divide the dough into equal pieces by weight. It is essential to braid the loaf slightly loose so the dough can rise.