4 Round Challahs Made Easy
What you need:
Make it happen:
1. Place very warm (but not hot, let the faucet run for a bit) water in a mixing bowl.
2. Add honey, making sweet water. Add yeast, mixing lightly, so it all gets wet.
- The yeast will eat the sugar in the honey water and produce carbon dioxide, which is what makes the bread fluffy.
- If you don’t mind getting your hands dirty, you can gently and manually break up the bigger yeast bubbles at first, so that all the yeast is able to come into contact with the water.
3. Allow to sit for 10 minutes or so, usually less… until you see little eruptions.
- If you’re not watching the yeast water, you might miss the “eruptions”, but you’ll see clearly that it’s all puffed up when you come back to it. That’s totally fine.
- Once you see that it looks like it’s not puffing up much further, you’re ready for the next step.
4. While you’re waiting, mix eggs and vegetable oil together in a cup. Add the eggs and vegetable oil to the bowl and mix with a wooden spoon.
- I don’t know why you need to use a wooden spoon. My recipe says wooden spoon, and it’s worked for me so far.
5. Add flour and salt.
- Remember: salt and yeast are not friends, and mixing them will hurt your rise. Don’t put the salt in with the yeast right away. Wait until you’ve added some of the flour.
- (I put in half the flour, then add salt, then add the rest of the flour.)
- If the dough is not holding together as a ball, add a bit more oil or water. If the dough is very sticky, add more flour.
- The dough is ready when it sticks together as a ball and is not sticky to the touch when you poke your finger in.
- If I’m using a mixing machine/KitchenAid/etc., this usually takes 3-5 minutes. If I’m doing it by hand, it takes 6-10 minutes or until I get too tired and decide it’s ready.
7. Work it out.
- Take half the dough and put it onto a floured work surface.
- Knead it out, and punch a few times until very smooth.
- Then do the same with the other half of the dough.
8. Place in oiled bowl(s) and cover in plastic wrap and/or towel.
- The oil makes it easy to take the dough out for braiding, without it sticking to the sides. Saves so much hassle!
9. Allow to rise at least one hour in a warm place, preferably more, until dough has risen.
- Your oven, turned off but with the light turned on, is perfect for this. Before I learned this trick, I put it in the closet, though, and it turned out fine.
- If you’re going to let it rise for more than two hours, split the dough into two separate bowls so there’s room for more rising.
- Now that I’m working from home, sometimes I let my challah rise for like five hours during the work day. It doesn’t rise much more after the two hour mark, but it doesn’t hurt it.
10. After an hour-plus, bring your bowls to the counter/table. If the fates are in your favor, the dough will have doubled in size.
11. Punch gently into each bowl to deflate the dough, and remove it.
12. Knead out all the air bubbles, and get ready to braid!
- I set up my baking sheets with parchment paper before I start braiding. This way I can transfer my masterpieces as soon as they’re ready and don’t have to touch them after they do their second rise.
- But, challah (like the Jewish people) is resilient and will rise wherever you need it to, so you do you.
Now it’s time to braid! Using your three-strand braid skills, turn each “side” of the lattice square into a braid.
Place each lower strand over the higher strand next to it, going clockwise for the first round, counter-clockwise for the second round, clockwise again for the third, and so on until you run out of dough.