This is my favorite recipe for Challah. I love making Challah once every other week for Shabbat. It can also yield three smaller challahs so you can even eat one and freeze the other two. I make my bread half whole wheat and with a little sugar and lots of honey. The bread may not look absolutely perfect but it tastes amazing. It is great by itself, as a sandwich bread or with a jam, fruit butter or spread such as Bicoff Spread or Cookie Butter. This recipe yields two challahs so I usually freeze one challah and then use the other one immediately. It’s still good the next day but will start to lose its moistness by day three, which is why its ideal for french toast.
Making a yeast bread is a bit tricky until you have done it a bunch of times. You have to make sure your yeast is fresh and proofs well. You also have to make sure that the water is warm but not too hot or it will kill the yeast. The other trick is making sure that the dough is the right consistency. The dough should not feel sticky but soft. The difference in taste from store bought is truly significant. This recipe was originally given to me when I took a Challah class at the JCC in Manhattan. The original recipe was adapted by Shoshana Ohriner. She has an excellent website with unique ideas on how to bake all different types of challahs, even ones with sprinkles.
If you are interested in learning more about making yeast breads, I really recommend taking a class either at your community center or at a culinary institute. Please note that I wrote approximations such as 1-2 tablespoons of sugar and 1/2 to 3/4 cup of honey. I have a bit of a sweet tooth! If you don’t want it that sweet you can cut back to 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1/2 cup of honey.
This is how I made it:
3 packages of dry yeast (about 2 tablespoons)
3 tablespoons of brown sugar
3/4 warm water
3 cups of white flour (may need more when mixing)
3 cups of whole wheat flour (may need more when mixing)
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup water
1/2-3/4 cup of honey
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water
In one large bowl, mix flour and salt. Use a whisk to mix. In another large bowl mix eggs, oil, water and honey.
In a separate bowl, proof your yeast by combining it with 3/4 warm water and brown sugar. The water should be warm to the touch, not hot. Let yeast sit for about 5 minutes. When yeast has proofed (bubbles a bit), add the yeast mixture to flour and salt mixture and mix well.
Add egg mixture and continue mixing until dough comes together (use standard paddle on stand mixer). Add flour if necessary.The dough will remain soft but shouldn’t be sticky.
Since I use my stand mixer for this recipe, I switch over to my dough hook at this point. I mix with the dough hook for about 2-5 minutes. The dough will come together as a ball. If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can knead by hand for a couple of minutes. Feel it intermittently to see if you need to add more flour. Don’t add too much flour or it will get too dry. Add a little bit at a time. Place the ball in a well oiled bowl and turn the ball over so dough is well coated with oil. Cover with a towel and let rise for about two hours or until doubles in size.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Punch down dough. Divide dough into two large pieces. For each ball of dough further separate into three pieces. Form three ropes per challah and braid accordingly. Place on lightly greased sheet and brush with egg wash.
Bake for 30-40 minutes. They are done when the challah is browned nicely on top and makes a hollow sound when tapped.
Let cool and eat!