Challah (pronounced hall-ah) is a traditional kosher Jewish bread. It’s usually eaten on Shabbat, during holidays like Rosh Hashanah or on special occasions, and can be made in a variety of sizes and shapes. Most often it’s braided, and the intertwined strands of the braid are meant to represent love. Challah can be made plain or with fillings like raisins, cinnamon or chocolate chips. The recipe below uses a combination of dried apples and honey for an extra touch of sweetness.
How to Make Challah
Though braiding sticky challah dough can be challenging, the dough itself is easy to make. A basic challah recipe consists of eggs, flour, water, yeast and salt. You’ll start by proofing the yeast, then combining the ingredients and kneading the dough. Then, you’ll be able to shape or braid the challah and bake.
Ready to get started? Check out our step-by-step instructions for Honey & Whole Wheat Apple Challah below.
Honey & Whole Wheat Apple Challah
4 tsp. active dry yeast
1¼ cups warm water (105-115°F), divided
1 Tbsp. room temperature water
2 large eggs
½ cup plus 1 Tbsp. honey, divided
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 tsp. salt
2½ cups whole wheat flour
1 cup dried apples, chopped
3¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 egg yolk
Step 1: Proof the Yeast
The first step in any challah recipe is to proof the yeast. This ensures that the yeast is active and will ultimately create a light, airy bread. In a measuring cup, dissolve the yeast in ¼ cup of warm water. Be careful not to use water that’s too hot, as this can harm the yeast. Stir until dissolved, then let sit for about 5 minutes. When the mixture is frothy, it’s ready to use.
Step 2: Make the Dough
Now that your yeast has been proofed, it’s time to make the dough. Start by beating the eggs with an electric mixer on low speed until just blended. Then add 1 cup of warm water, the honey, vegetable oil, salt, whole wheat flour and the yeast. Continue to beat on low speed for 1 minute, making sure to scrape the bowl frequently. Then, turn up your mixer speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes, still making sure to scrape the bowl. Use a spoon to fold in the dried apples. Add in the all-purpose flour a little bit at a time until the dough leaves the sides of the bowl. It will still be very sticky even after adding in the all-purpose flour.
Step 3: Knead the Dough
On a lightly floured surface, knead your dough for about 5-10 minutes, adding additional flour until the dough is smooth and springy. You’ll be able to tell when your dough is ready by stretching it between two fingers. If it stretches smoothly without tearing, it’s ready. It if tears, you’ll need to continue to knead until it’s smooth and elastic. Once your dough has been kneaded, grease a large bowl and place the dough in the bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the dough has doubled in size.
Step 4: Braid the Dough
Once the dough has risen, it’s time to braid. First, line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Then, on a lightly floured surface, divide the dough into four equal pieces. Roll each piece into a strand, about 25” long. Place 2 strands next to each other vertically on the floured surface. Weave the remaining 2 strands horizontally over and under the vertical strands (it should look like a plus sign). Starting at the bottom, take the strand on the left and cross it over the strand on its right, leaving no space between the strands. Continue working counterclockwise, crossing the next 2 strands over one another. Continue around the loaf with the remaining 4 strands.
For the next round, start at the bottom, and take the strand on the right and cross it over the strand on the left, working clockwise around the bread. Continue twisting the strands around the challah in opposite directions until almost all the lengths of the strands are shaped in the loaf. Pinch the ends of the strands under the loaf to seal them.
Step 5: Bake the Challah
Place your braided challah on the prepared baking sheet and cover with a clean towel. Let it rise in a warm place for 30-45 minutes, or until it has doubled in size. Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a small bowl, beat an egg yolk with 1 tablespoon of honey and 1 tablespoon of water. Brush over the top and sides of the challah. Transfer to the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
If the challah is golden brown after 30 minutes, cover loosely with aluminum foil. Continue to bake for 15-20 minutes or until the bottom sounds hollow when tapped. Remove from baking sheet and cool on a wire rack.
Step 6: Enjoy
Challah is delightful on its own, but there are many ways to serve it for maximum deliciousness. Try topping a slice with honey or jam. You can even make French toast or bread pudding!
How to Make Honey & Whole Wheat Apple Challah
Learn this easy recipe to make homemade challah. A simple braiding technique creates this traditional round loaf.Shop the recipe!