BEST Challah Recipe
By Dana Must Knit
This recipe uses 2 packets of rapid rise yeast and subsequently boasts only two rises (one rise, one ‘proof’). With careful planning and a calm, undistracting vibe in your home, you could be out of your kitchen with bragging rights within 2 ½ hours. The key to not killing the yeast is to actually measure the water temp to be sure. (I know this after finally relenting after years of resistance followed by failure.) See below for recommended nuking time. This recipe yields two large crown-shaped Challahs, traditional for the High Holidays.
5 to 5 ½ cups bread flour (yes, bread flour)
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
2x 2 ¼ teaspoon packages rapid rise yeast
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 cup water, nuked for 50 seconds to reach 120 degrees
1/3 cup honey
3 eggs for dough + 1 egg set aside for egg wash
an oiled bowl, for the first rise
• Whisk four cups of the flour, both packets of yeast, the salt, and sugar together in a rather large bowl.
• In a separate bowl or glass liquid measure, heat the water by nuking it for 50 seconds and test the temperature using any kitchen thermometer handy. Just do it.
• Whisk the eggs and honey together in a separate bowl, and then combine with the warm water.
• Quickly add the liquids to the dry ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon. The dough will be stickyish.
• Turn the dough onto a floured surface. Adding the extra 1 ½ cups of flour as necessary, knead, with all of your Superwoman strength and perseverance, for 8+ minutes. Good kneading makes a difference (and will tone your arms in the process, win-win).
• The dough will be smooth and elastic when you’re done and it’s now ready to be placed in the oiled bowl, turning it so its covered in oil. Cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap and set aside for the first rise in a warm place at the back of the counter.
• Set the timer for 1 hour and don’t leave the house or fall asleep.
• On the floured surface, punch down the dough, cut in half, and let it rest (it will be more pliable if you do) for several minutes while you make ready two cookie sheets with parchment paper. This is where the dough will be ‘proofed’ (that’s what my Grandma calls the final rise, so just go with it).
• Stretch and hand-roll each piece into a long 30-36” snake and shape into a crown for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, coiling it around itself from the center out, and sealing the end with a dab of water and a pinch. If you choose to braid, cut each of the first halves into thirds for 2x three-stranded braided Challahs, then roll, braid, and pinch accordingly. For a four-stranded braid, use the Force!
• Place Challahs on the parchment-readied cookie sheets, cover with oiled plastic and let ‘proof’, setting the timer for 1 hour. Don’t leave, don’t nap. Do a chore in the general vicinity.
• When there are only 20 minutes left of the ‘proofing’, heat the oven to 375.
• When the timer chimes, beat the final egg in a small bowl, adding a splash of water and a dash of salt. Gently (or they will deflate before your eyes) brush the Challahs with the egg wash.
• Place both in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until full deep-golden brown and emitting a hollow sound when tapped on the bottom with your finger.
• Allow your family to lavish you with wondrous praise in amazement of your apparent new superpower.