In our house, we make challah every Friday for Shabbat. It used to be my job; then R took over when my hands were hurting, and now she says it’s her job. Sic transit gloria mundi, right? At least she still lets me braid it.
Blogs that give out recipes can be really annoying. Before you can find the ingredients, you have to read the blogger’s life story and their personal connection with the recipe. Not here. No siree, one more paragraph and then we get into the recipe.
This is my personal recipe. I started with someone else’s and then tinkered with it for a few years until I settled on this version. I hope you bake it and enjoy it.
Sara’s Not-Yet-Famous(-but-a-Girl-Can-Dream) Challah
- ⅓ cup warm water
- 4 ½ tsp yeast (or two packets)
- ¾ – 1 cup sugar (you choose: how sweet do you want it?)
- ½ cup canola oil
- 1 heaping tablespoon salt
- 1 cup boiling water
- ½ cup cold water
- 6 eggs
- 8-9 cups flour
Mix the yeast into the warm water and sprinkle a bit of sugar on top. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine sugar, canola oil, and salt. Add 1 cup boiling water and stir well; then add ½ cup cold water.
Test the water temperature. If it’s warm on the inside of your arm but not uncomfortably hot, it’s ready for the yeast. If not, wait a few minutes and test the water again. If it’s too cold, warm it up a bit in the microwave.
Add the yeast.
Beat the eggs in a small bowl, then add them to the large bowl.
Stir in the flour a cup at a time and mix until the dough sticks together like a ball and is no longer very sticky.
Knead well and set aside in a warm place to rise.
(The longer it rises, the more flavourful your dough will be. Minimum rise time is one hour.)
When the dough has risen, divide the dough in four and shape your challahs (there are tons of online tutorials, so I won’t re-invent the wheel. Google “how to braid challah. I use six strands.) Take care to handle it as little as possible—this will keep your challah light and fluffy.
Preheat oven to 325F. Let the shaped challah rise for 45 minutes to an hour (any more than that and it might collapse when you move it.)
Just before you put them in the oven, brush the challahs with a beaten egg (you can also use water) and the topping of your choice: sesame seeds, poppy seeds, streusel, sugar and salt, cinnamon, sprinkles… whatever you want, really.
Bake at 325F for 30 minutes, or until golden. Smaller challahs should be checked around the 20 minute mark.
Remove from oven, cool, and eat some before everyone else eats them first.
And now the obligatory food photos:
(If you use a screen reader, know that all of these photos are close-ups of challah in one shape or another.)