Classic Challah

For the New Year: Old World Tastes and Modern Methods
October 22, 2018
Florentine Bars
April 1, 2019

Yield: makes 3 medium challahs

Prep Time:

20 minutes


store at room temperature for 2 days; may freeze for up to 3 months


two 1/4-ounce packets or 4 1/2 teaspoons

1/4 cup warm water

3/4 cup sugar, plus 2 teaspoons sugar for proofing yeast

1/2 tablespoon honey

1/2 cup canola oil, plus 1-2 teaspoons for greasing the bowl

1 tablespoon fine salt

1 cup boiling water

1/2 cup cold water

3 large eggs plus 1/2 yolk (save rest for glazing)

6-7 cups bread flour

Preparation Directions

  1. In a 1-cup measuring cup, dissolve the yeast in 1/4 cup warm water and mix in 1 teaspoon sugar. Let sit until mixture becomes thick, for about 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, pour the oil, salt, remaining sugar and honey into a large mixing bowl. Mix with a whisk. Add the boiling water and mix well. Add the cold water and mix in.
  3. Beat the eggs in a medium bowl and add all but 1 tablespoon of the eggs to the oil mixture. Reserve the remaining egg in the fridge to glaze the loaves.
  4. When the yeast mixture is thick and bubbly, add to the bowl and whisk in. Add about 1 cup of the flour and whisk in well. Add another cup of flour and whisk in. Now you’ll need to switch to a wooden spoon. Add more flour, 1 cup at a time, until you have added a total of 6 cups of flour. Make sure you completely mix in each batch of flour before adding the next one. When the dough gets hard to mix, dump onto the counter and scrape out as much dough and flour as possible from the bowl.
  5. Add flour, starting with 1/4 cup at a time, and then adding less, by tablespoons, squeezing it in with your hands each time, turning the dough over and over and kneading until you have a smooth dough.  You will know the dough is done when you rub your hand across the dough, and it doesn’t stick and feels smooth. You will unlikely add all of the flour in the recipe.
  6. Place 1 teaspoon oil into the bowl and rub around. Return the dough to the bowl, turn to coat in the oil, and cover with a clean dishtowel. Let rise for 1 hour.
  7. Shape as desired and place on a parchment or Silpat-covered baking sheets.
  8. Let rise for 45 minutes.
  9. Preheat oven to 350°F. Brush the top and sides with the egg mixed with 1 teaspoon of water. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until golden.