Considering Challa: Aiming High

You all know what challa is.
that soft, sweet, tender, lovely bread that Jewish people usually eat on Friday evenings.
so many times have I made Challa; it was actually the first bread I ever made, and that first, easy lovable product is what initiated my current love for bread baking.
The perfect Challa for me is a mildly soft, thin crust with tender, soft crumb that melts in your mouth. it's excellent when its fresh with anything, especially for dipping in your egg at dinner, but also toasted, with salted butter on top.
After not baking Challa for a very long time (started meddling with sourdough and such), I had an urge for something made of just plain yeast, and it was Friday, and we went to dinner, and making Challa was obvious.
I didn't want to use my regular recipe- though it yields a great bread, its always somewhat flattens during baking. So I tried a recipe for Saffron Challa (without the Saffron) by Sussan of Wild Yeast that I slightly adjusted. Her recipes never let me down, and the bread in the picture looked just gorgeous.
did only 2/3 of the amount (small oven and all):

(no saffron) 4 eggs Challa
adjusted form Wild Yeast
(yields 2 500g loaves)
400g flour
200g high-gluten flour (used Shtibel #2 for bread)
200g warm water
7g instant yeast
11g salt
34g sugar
54g egg yolk (a little less than 3 from #2 eggs, I weighted)
66.6 whole egg (1 egg and a bit, #2, weighted)
45g olive oil

  1. Wake up the yeast (not a must): put the dry yeast in a small bowl with a tsp of the sugar and 1/2 cup of the warm water. mix gently, and let them sit while you weigh and measure all other things.   
  2.  Combine all of the dough ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on low speed until just combined, then mix on low or medium speed until the gluten has reached nearly full development (great explanation in Wiled Yeast blog!). 
  3. Transfer the dough to a covered, lightly oiled container. Let it sit for 2 hours. After the first hour, gently press the dough to degas it (Forgot to do that all together!).
  4. Turn the dough onto a very lightly floured counter and divide it into pieces of about 500 g each. Further divide each piece, depending on the number of strands you want for each loaf.
  5. while dividing, pre-shaped the dough into chubby sticks and let them sit for about 10 minutes. then I rolled the sticks into forming longer strings, like when you shape a baguette.
  6. Braid or otherwise shape the dough as you please (see shaping notes in Wiled Yeast. I braided a 4 strings braid and tried the spiral-circle thing that opened in the oven). Place shaped loaves on a large parchment-lined baking sheet, spaced as far apart from each other as possible.
  7. Beat one egg with a fork and mix it with a teaspoon or so of water. Brush the egg wash lightly onto the loaves. Save the remaining egg wash.
  8. Slip the loaves into a large plastic bag or cover with plastic wrap. Proof at room temperature for 1.5 – 2 hours, until the dough springs back very slowly when pressed lightly with your finger.
  9. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 380F.
  10. Before baking, give the loaves another light coating of the egg wash. Throw a few ice cubes in the bottom of the stove to create steam.
  11. Bake the loaves for about 30 minutes, until the crust is a shiny dark brown.
  12. Place the loaves on a wire rack to cool.

great loaves, though they reminded me somewhat a bought Challa. The crumb was soft though slightly stiffer than I like, a little too chewy. Also, since I'm married to a cholesterol-problematic guy, this thing has a little too much eggs for me. But what a hight!!

this turned out so nicely it was submitted to Wiled Yeast's YeastSpotting (:


  1. Well that certainly turned out lovely! I have made eggy breads like Finnish Pulla but never actually challah. I will have to try it soon. Thanks for sharing. ☺

  2. Thanks for your comment! not a fan of eggy breads, but the looks on this one was just irresistible. (:



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