There is nothing like the scent of freshly baked bread filling up your kitchen. These beautiful braided loaves of traditional easy challah bread are light, soft and fluffy, with a beautiful golden brown crust coated in sesame seeds. It's rich in flavour and is slightly sweet. This easy three-strand braided challah takes just 20 minutes of actual prep work to come together. It's the perfect side of bread to serve with every day meals.
What is Challah?
Challah (also known as "egg bread") is a traditional Jewish bread that is baked when celebrating the Sabbath or other holidays. It is a braided loaf of bread that is made rich with eggs, sweetened with honey, and has the softest, fluffiest texture, perfect for french toast. There are many variations of challah in different parts of the world and you can customize it with a wide array of ingredients such as almonds, raisins, cinnamon, and so on (like in cinnamon raisin challah bread).
Challah is often compared to brioche bread as they are similar in texture, but they have their differences. Unlike brioche bread which is made primarily of butter and milk, traditional challah is made with canola oil and eggs for enrichment.
- active dry yeast
- liquid honey
- vegetable oil
- eggs - you need one egg for the dough, and one egg to be used for the egg wash on top.
- all purpose flour
- white sesame seeds - to sprinkle on top.
How to Make the Best Easy Challah Bread
First, prepare the dough. In a medium mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in water and whisk in honey, oil and one beaten egg. The mixture should start to bubble and develop a yeasty aroma. In a large mixing bowl, add flour and salt. Pour in the yeast mixture and mix well until fully combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl (there should be no dry flour particles visible).
Next, knead the dough on a clean surface for 5 minutes until it turns into a smooth dough ball. Transfer the dough back into the bowl and coat with a little bit of oil to prevent it from drying out. Cover the bowl with plastic cling wrap and let it rise at room temperature until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
How to Braid Challah Bread with Step-by-Step Pictures
Now we are ready to braid the challah. We are making two 3-strand braided challah. You could also make one 6-strand challah.
- Punch down on the dough to deflate it completely and roll it into a log. Divide the log into 6 equal pieces and roll each piece into a long rope, about 1-inch thick.
- Place three ropes side by side on a lightly floured surface and pinch them together at the top to seal.
- Braid the three strands together by alternating the right strand over the middle strand and the left strand over the middle strand. Continue the pattern, alternating between the right and left strands until it reaches the ends. Pinch the ends together to seal.
- Repeat the same steps with the second challah.
Then, place both challah on a parchment lined baking sheet, spaced apart. Cover with cling wrap and let rise until almost doubled in size, about 45 minutes depending on the room temperature.
Now we are ready to bake. First, brush a generous amount of egg wash (beaten egg) evenly over the top and sprinkle with sesame seeds. The egg wash adds shine and creates a beautiful golden crust during baking. Then transfer into a 350 F preheated oven and bake for 25 minutes until the top turns golden brown.
Let the challah bread cool down to room temperature before slicing, about 30 minutes.
Challah Bread Storing Tips
- How to store: Store challah in a bread box or an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to one week.
- How to freeze: You can also freeze challah in an airtight container or freezer bag for up to 3 months. To thaw, place in the refrigerator or kitchen counter.
- How to reheat: To reheat refrigerator or frozen challah that has been thawed, place in the air fryer or oven at 300 F for 5-10 minutes. You can also cut into slices and toast in the toaster or toaster oven.
More Bread Recipes
- Brioche Bread
- Small Batch No-Knead Bread
- No Knead French Baguettes
- Easy Small Batch Ciabatta Rolls
- Homemade Sunflower Seed Bread
- Easy Homemade Everything Bagels
- Cheesy Garlic Dinner Rolls
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