Challah recipe

How to make braided bread

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A 3-braid challah on a baking sheet, viewed from above.


This is my first attempt at writing a recipe in a long time. It was adapted from a recipe in chapter 2 of A Taste of Challah. If you try this out, I’d be happy to hear about your experience.


  • Water
  • Active dry yeast
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Flour
  • Canola or other neutral oil
  • Optionally, filling ingredients (such as raisins or chocolate chips)


  • Measuring cups
  • Three mixing bowls
  • A cloth towel
  • A stirring implement
  • A rolling pin
  • An oven


Activate yeast

Add 1 tablespoon sugar, 2 tablespoons of boiling water, and 1/4 cup room temperature water to a small bowl. Next, add 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (this is the typical size of a single yeast packet) to the bowl and stir. Then cover the bowl (for example with a cloth towel), and let it sit for 10 minutes.

Mix ingredients

Inspect the mixture. It should be foamy because the yeast should be active. If things seem amiss, try again. Otherwise, sift (or just add if you don’t have a sifting implement) 4 cups flour into the second-largest bowl. In the largest bowl, add 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, 1/4 cup oil, 1/2 cup warm water, 1/2 tsp salt, then half of the flour from the other bowl, then mix. Add the active yeast mixture and mix again, then add the rest of the flour and any filling ingredients you wish to include. Add 1/4 to 3/4 cup more water until the flour is absorbed. Add a tablespoon of oil to the bottom of the large bowl (lifting the dough so the oil is between the dough and the bowl) or a new bowl and allow the dough to rise for 10 minutes.


Knead with lightly oiled hands for 5 minutes. Then return the dough to the bowl, adding a few drops of oil to the bowl if it seems dry. Let it rise for 10 minutes again. Knead for 5 minutes. Transfer to the bowl (potentially adding a few drops of oil), cover, and allow to rise for an hour.


Place the dough on a floured surface. Divide the dough into portions. To make one challah with three braids, divide it into thirds. Roll each portion into an oval/pancake shape. If you have filling ingredients that you want to be layered throughout the challah(s), distribute them on top of the flat pancake shape now. Then, roll up each pancake into a log/crepe kind of thing. Cover them and wait five minutes.


Squeeze each log into a longer, thinner, rope-like form. Each should be approximately the same thickness. Pinch the tops together and braid into the desired shape, then apply any garnishes or bread washes. Cover and allow to rise for 45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375Β°F such that the oven is preheated for a few minutes (A Taste of Challah says 20 but I think that’s excessive) before you put the challah in.


Bake the challah for 20-25 minutes, until it starts to brown at the edges. It can be frozen for long-term storage.