There are so many recipes on the internet and in cookbooks on how to make the best Challah. It can get overwhelming to choose, and sometimes you end up relying on a good friend’s experience and special touch.
That is how I ended up only making “Chaya’s Challah”. Chaya is a former colleague and Orthodox Jew (not on social media to tag!) who shared (and made) with me her wonderful recipe handed down to her, which is not too sweet and not too salty…and always comes out fluffy and a bit crispy on top.
The special ingredient is, of course, to knead it with love and when possible, make 2 kilos to do the Hafrashat Challah blessing.
And, she has a little trick about the water temperature…
This Challah always comes out wonderful, and I hope it will for you too.
What you need:
1 kilo flour
2 Tablespoons of dry yeast
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil
1.5 Tablespoons salt
2.5 cups warm water
1 beaten egg for brushing
Optional: Sesame seeds, poppy seeds, or topping of choice.
*Double the recipe to do the Hafrashat Challah blessing.
**I learned from Chaya that the water temperature should be the exact temperature you would want to take a shower in, so feel it with your finger before.
- Sift the flour. Then add in the yeast, sugar, salt and oil.
- Make sure the water is the temperature you would like (see Notes section above), and add in all the water, mix a bit, and start kneading.
- Knead for about 8-10 minutes. You want a non-sticky dough. Add a bit more flour or water if you feel it needs.
- Let the dough double in size. In the summer this can take sometimes less than an hour. On a cold winter day, it could take two hours. Be patient and use your eye as a judge.
- When the dough doubles in size, I knead it for another few minutes and then spread a bit more oil in my hands and put around the dough before it rises again.
- Let it double in size again, punch it down and if you are making 2 kilos it is time for the Hafrashat Challah blessing.
- Now you are ready to shape your Challah. I always tend to make the regular 3-braided Challahs, and sometimes make them longer to make a beautiful circle shape. There are many tutorials on the internet for more complicated shapes! I am really a beginner in the shaping department. (Scroll down for a few basic tutorials)
- Once shaped, brush beaten egg all over the Challahs (Chaya always did this with her hands and I adopted!) and add on the top whatever your heart desires: sesame seeds, poppy seeds, a little bit of both…
- Bake in a preheated 180C (350 F) oven for 30‑40 minutes or until the Challah’s are golden-brown. Check also the bottoms of the Challahs that they have crisped up a bit.
- Enjoy the heavenly smell coming from your oven and of course the Challahs themselves soon after.
Here are a few photos.
My shapes above aren’t perfect. Shaping Challah takes time, practice and a bit of luck. Keep at it! No matter the shape, the smell is heavenly and the Challahs always taste amazing.
Two tutorials of the 3-braided Challahs I usually make:
Wishing you all a Shabbat Shalom and a lot of merit from the mitzvah of making Challah.
5 Replies to “Chaya’s Challah”
Please could you explain what the term “push down” means. People I spoken to tell me to knead the dough for a while more and still others tell me to squash the air spaces.
Regards and thanks
Hi Sue, thanks so much for writing. When I say “push down” it means after the dough has risen/doubled in size, you want to push down on the dough and let all the air out and start kneading it again for a few minutes. I try to approach cooking and baking in a very easy going away and especially with Challah it has a special blessing already. So don’t worry about air spaces or any complicated terms. Knead the dough, let it rise, punch it down, knead it again, rub it with a bit oil, let it rise for the second time. Have a good energy while making it and hopefully make 2 kilos to do the bracha. It will all work out:) Happy baking.
What flour do you use ?
Hi Nicole, thanks for writing. I use regular white flour for this Challah. I know it has become popular to make Challah with a range of different flours and blends, but we have tried to stay simple in this regard. During the week we eat a variety of other breads like 50% whole wheat sourdough, but our family loves regular white challah on Shabbat with different Israeli salads, Moroccan Fish, and Yemenite Soup. Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom and happy to hear if you make the Challahs.
I though challah needed at least strong flour but I will try with the regular one. Thanks