Challah, a traditional Jewish bread, is baked every weekend and braided in a fancy way to welcome to the beloved Shabbat (Saturday). It is soft, sweet, fluffy, and crumbly. It’s great for French Toast, sandwiches, or just as is. This time I am giving you my favorite Bakery Style Challah Recipe.
It took me a while to figure out how to achieve consistent results for this Bakery Style Challah recipe. After many failed attempts, research and having the pleasure of talking to the one and only bread master, Jeffrey Hamelman from King Arthur Flour, I finally achieved the perfect Challah. All of this leads me to offer you the following bullet points.
It might be a bit long, but definitely worth your time. Please take the time to read all the points before you start baking.
The recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups of water. I only use 1 cup because I learned that the less water I use, the fluffier and lighter the Callahan turns out.
Depending on the climate of your hometown and/or time of year, you might still need to use the full amount of water. Feel free to experiment and adjust accordingly.
How can you tell?
Start by adding 1 cup of water into the egg yolks mixture, then add it all to the dry ingredients and give it about 1 minute to hydrate. It might look like it is super dry and needs more water, but PLEASE be patient as it might take a minute.
If the dough formed but some dry ingredients cannot be absorbed, add 1/4-1/2 teaspoon at a time.
The dough should try to “climb up” the hook, but if it is over-hydrated the majority of it will be stuck to the sides of the bowl. (If that happens, do NOT add more flour. Keep following the recipe as is. The Challah will still come out delicious!)
Mixing the Dough
Most times it takes no more than 5 minutes to mix the dough. The way I check is by pinching a small piece of dough and gently stretching it with my fingers from the middle out. You want the dough to be able to stretch a little and then tear. If it tears right away, mix it some more.
Why stretch and tear?
When baking bread you want the end result to be the best result: soft, light, and easy to bite, with some crumbs. What you don’t want is a chewy texture that is hard to bite or a flat and dense bread that resembles more of a cake.
Making sure that the dough had formed the right amount of gluten, (hence the stretching) but was not over-mixed, (hence the tearing) is the best way to achieve the best bread.
There are no corners to cut with this one. Plan ahead and give the dough the time to work its magic.
The yolk and oil make the dough pretty heavy; time is key. There is plenty of sugar in the recipe for the yeast to puff air into the dough, the only ingredient for this one is time.
I make the dough the night before, and allow it to rest overnight. I braid it in the morning and bake it in the afternoon.
Don’t get discouraged, It may seem like a lot, but overall resting time aside, it is a total of 1 hour of work.
Post Bake Cooling
As you take any baked goods out of the oven, it continues to bake since its temperature is still high. The same with this Challah. Since the baking sheet gets cooler faster, the Challah might “sweat” at the bottom and lose its crunchy texture.
Remove the Challah from the pan no more than 4-5 minutes (or immediately) after taking it out of the oven.
Storing this Bakery Style Challah Challah
The Challah is best if eaten within the first two days.
It also freezes quite well. You can bake the full amount as specified below, eat some, and freeze the rest. To store for use after baking, place the Challah in a plastic bag, and store it in a cool/room temperature. For freezing, wrap the Challah with aluminum foil and place it inside of a plastic bag. When ready to eat, take it out of the freezer, remove the foil and allow it to thaw.
If you have more questions, please leave me a comment at the bottom of the post.
Here are some other Jewish Cuisine posts you might enjoy:
Bakery Style Challah
Sweet light and fluffy traditional Challah Bread.
- 6 1/2 Cups Bread flour (795 g/ 28 oz)
- 1/3 Cups + 1 TBS Sugar (85 g/ 3 oz)
- 2 1/4 tsp Salt (14 g/ 0.5 oz)
- 2 1/2 tsp Instant Yeast (10 g/ 0.3 oz)
- 7 1/2 Large Egg Yolks (130 g/4.5 oz)
- 1/4 Cup Vegetable Oil (45 g/ 1.5 oz)
- 1 – 1.5 Cups Warm (90F) Water (start with 1 cup, see notes) (340 g/ 12 oz)
- 2 Large Egg whites
- 2 TBS Poppy or Sesame Seeds (14 g/ 0.5 oz)
Place the flour, sugar, salt and yeast in a bowl of a standing mixer and use the flat paddle on the lowest speed to incorporate all.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks and vegetable oil until blended. Add the warm water while whisking.
Add the yolk mixture into the dry ingredients and keep mixing until the it is mostly hydrated and looks like a messy dough.
Switch the paddle attachment to the dough hook and knead at low speed for 5-7 minutes.
Place the dough in a large ball (OK to leave in the mixer bowl), apply a thin layer of oil on the dough and cover with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rest and rise for 8-10 hours.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and divide it into 2 pieces (about 680 g/ 24 oz each). Let the dough rest for 20-30 minutes to allow the gluten to relax.
Divide each piece into as many pieces as you wish to braid and roll each piece into a long sausage than braid into challah.
Place the braided dough into a loaf pan or a cookie sheets that were lined with parchment paper and let rise for 4-5 hours.
Brush the dough with the egg whites and sprinkle with your choice of seeds.
Bake for 25-30 minutes at 350F. (turn the pans mid bake time)
Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack,.
You can braid and bake the Challah on a cookie sheet or braid and bake in a 2 8″x3″ loaf pans.