Prep Time: 30 minutes
First Rise: 1.5 hours
Second Rise: 1 hour
Baking Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 3.5 hours
- 2 tsp active dry yeast
- 1 cup lukewarm water
- 4 to 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup white granulated sugar
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 large egg yolk (reserve the white for the egg wash)
- 1/4 cup neutral-flavored vegetable oil **very important that it’s NEUTRAL flavored, ie grapeseed, canola, vegetable
- In a small bowl, combine the yeast and water and give it a quick stir to help dissolve the yeast. After about 5-10 minutes you should see a thin frothy layer across the top. This means that the yeast is active and ready to use. (If you do not see this or if your yeast won’t dissolve, it has likely expired and you’ll need to purchase new yeast.)
- Whisk together 4 cups of the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer (or in a large mixing bowl if kneading by hand).
- Make a well in the center of the flour and add the eggs, egg yolk, and oil. Pour the yeast mixture over the egg slurry. Mix the yeast, eggs, and flour with a long-handled spoon until you form a shaggy dough that is difficult to mix.
- If using a stand mixer, this is where you’d want to switch to using a dough hook and knead the dough on low speed for 6 to 8 minutes. If you’re doing it by hand, turn out the dough onto a floured work surface and knead for about 10 minutes. If the dough seems very sticky, add flour a tablespoon at a time until it feels tacky, and not too sticky. The dough has finished kneading when it is soft, smooth, and holds a ball-shape.
- Clean the bowl and coat with oil. Place the dough in the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and place in a warm, draft-free place. You never know where that might be in your house, so get creative! Let the dough rise 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until doubled in size.
- Separate the dough into three equal pieces, and roll each piece of dough into a long rope roughly 1-inch thick and 16 inches long. If the ropes shrink as you try to roll them, let them rest for 5 minutes to relax the gluten and then try again.
- Lay the three ropes parallel to each other on the counter and squeeze them together at the top. Braid the ropes together (like you would braid hair) and then once you’ve finished, squeeze together the ends.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment and place the loaf on top. Sprinkle the loaf with a little flour and drape it with a clean dishcloth. Again, place the pan back in that warm, draft-free place and let it rise again for about 1 hour.
- About 20 minutes before baking, heat the oven to 350°F. When ready to bake, whisk the reserved egg white with a tablespoon of water and brush it all over the challah. Be sure to get in the cracks and down the sides of the loaf. This is what makes the loaf all crusty, golden, and delicious!
- Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, rotating the pan 180 degrees halfway through. We want to make sure that this beauty cooks evenly!
- Let the challah cool on a cooling rack until just barely warm. Now, this might be one of the hardest parts of the entire process, but try to resist eating the entire loaf right then and there. However, if you simply have no sense of self-control, then make an extra loaf and no one will know. Enjoy!