Homemade Challah

Jan Rood-Ojalvo
Recipe by
Jan Rood-Ojalvo

This recipe, which comes from the Garden City Jewish Center's cookbook: Sharing Our Favorites, creates moist, crusty challah that has accompanied many Shabbat meals and family parties. The dough can be braided into two challahs, or formed into small challah rolls.

6 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon salt
4 tablespoons butter, melted
2 packages active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups plain lowfat yogurt (optional, but excellent)
2 to 3 cups water
1 egg yolk, beaten with 1 teaspoon milk
sesame seeds or poppy seeds (optional)
  1. In electric mixer with dough hook (or by hand), mix flour, sugar, salt, and yeast. Heat butter, yogurt, and water to about 110°F (warm but not hot), and add to dry ingredients.
  2. Mix until dough forms a ball. (Add more water or flour, as needed.) Knead until smooth and elastic.
  3. Place inverted bowl over dough and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour. Punch down dough, divide into two parts.
  4. For each challah, divide dough into 3 equal parts, roll into ropes, pinch three ropes together and braid. Pinch at the end and tuck ends under. To make one big challah as shown in the photo, place one small braid on top of one big braid.
  5. Place both challahs on greased baking sheet, about 3 inches apart. Let rise until almost double, paint with egg yolk and milk mixture, and sprinkle with sesame seeds or poppy seeds if you're using them. Bake at 375°F for about 1/2 hour or until golden brown (and loaves sound hollow when tapped on bottom).
  6. Cool on rack.

Note: For non-dairy meals and vegans, replace the butter with vegetable oil and omit the yogurt.

Cinnamon Challah Variation  

Each section can be rolled out flat, brushed with melted butter, and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar before rolling into ropes and braiding.