Challa is a Jewish festival bread, and festive it is indeed. It's quite sweet, and, when braided and glazed, is very pretty. It's been a tradition in my family for as long as I can remember, though we are not Jewish. I can't speak for its authenticity (the fact that it uses butter is somehow bad, I know), but I can say it's really really yummy. This recipe makes four loaves.



  • Mix melted butter, warm milk, sugar, salt. This should be quite hot.
  • Add 3 eggs. Should be warm but not hot.
  • Add yeast.
  • Add 2 cups flour. Mix well, then let sit about 15 minutes.
  • Add 3.5 cups flour, then use the last half cup as you knead the dough.
  • Once the dough can be handled without falling apart (it should be a single relatively smooth lump at this point), knead for 10 more minutes.
  • At this point, cut the dough into 4 pieces - each of these becomes a loaf. I'd try to explain the braiding process, but I'm not sure how. Basically, take one lump of dough, divide it into 3 or 4 smaller peices, and roll those into long cylinders. Then braid them however you like. What you want is a loaf 4-5 inches long and 2-3 inches tall.
  • Put these in a warm oven until they're double that size. Make sure to turn the oven off while the bread is rising.
  • Remove from oven, then brush with that last beaten egg and (optionally) sprinkle with poppy seeds. Bake at 325-350 F for 20-25 minutes. The loaves will be a dark golden brown when they're done.

Challa is really good toasted with butter. It also makes a great gift, because (seriously) it's very tasty. If you try this, please let me know how it went and whether you liked it.

It's yummy, I swear. And not too hard to make. Some baking experience is helpful, and honestly, if I can do this, anybody can do this. Make sure to have a few hours set aside because the whole eterprise is pretty labor-intensive. YM, as always, MV.

A traditional Jewish egg-based bread which is usually decoratively braided. The most commonly found variation of challah is a slightly sweet egg-glazed braid of three strands of dough finished with a dusting of sesame or poppy seeds. It makes a wonderful French toast, peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or it is even good plain; however it is best enjoyed just two-hours from the oven.

Challah is a simple and easy yeast-leavend bread to prepare. The dough is very rich, as it contains many egg-yokes and a lot of butter: but it is because of this richness that the dough is a such a joy to knead under one's hands.

Challah is traditionally served on the Friday night sabbath, where it remains covered by a cloth until the prayer or brocha (pronounced: brugch-ha) is said over the bread. In some families, the bread is uncovered and the head of the family tears small pieces from it which are tossed onto the other family member's plates.

Challah and challah traditions are something which varies very much from family to family. Some family's challah contain fruit, nuts, saffron, olives, herbs, and even cheese. Some of the best challah to be had is a desert variation which can be commonly found at most delis: chocolate challah!

True, Challah is a "festive bread". But as Jews consider the Sabbath as a festival that occurs every week, it is also used at the two meals on the Sabbath.

Traditionally two loaves are used at each meal, to represent the extra piece of Manna that the Children of Israel had to collect on Fridays in the wilderness while going from Egypt to Israel. The Manna was provided daily, and had to be collected each day. However, as the laws don't permit carrying in public on the Sabbath, they had to collect a second piece on Friday. Hence two loaves of Challah at both Sabbath meals (Friday night and Saturday lunch).

Additionally, you will almost never find Orthodox Kosher Challah made with butter. This is because most Jews have meat for the Sabbath meals, and the dietary laws strictly prohibit having milk and meat foods together at the same meal. Of course, there's nothing to stop a Jewish vegetarian making Challah with butter at home, but no strictly Kosher bakeries will do this.

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