Monday, September 10, 2012

My First Challah

My first challah and really excited to make it, not excited about how it tastes like but rather excited over braiding the bread actually. It is a Jewish bread that is traditionally eaten on Shabbat ( rest day ). I understand for challah, there are 3 braid ones, 4 braid, 5 braid, 6 braid and also a double braid ( meaning one smaller loaf on top of another bigger loaf). I want to make a 6 braided one. I'm not even good at braiding hair, so you think i'm so clever to make a 6 braided loaf?? With the guide from youtube here, of course! If you are really keen on making a 6 braid challah, do watch the video, it's really helpful. I have to watch it many times, keep pausing it and writing the steps on a piece of paper. Importantly is that if you're braiding it for the first time, make sure nobody talks to you, nothing distracting you, off the phone or something because once you stop, it can get quite confusing continuing the steps. Ha!

I'm using Peter Reinhart's recipe here to make my challah, although it is an enriched type of bread, i dont actually find it rich though but it's quite a delicious bread. Nice texture, soft. I ate many slices just on its own and kept one loaf in the freezer. I noticed that a lot of challah recipes use vegetable oil and not butter and it seems that in sabbath meals, meat and dairy food are not to be consumed together, so i think that could be one of the reasons why no butter or milk are used in most challah recipes. Do you know how to pronounce challah? I for one will pronounce it as ' cha-lah" but no, not right, it goes something like 'ha-lah'.

Recipe ( from Peter Reinhart The Bread Baker's Apprentice )
makes 2 loaves
4 cups ( 18oz ) unbleached bread flour
2 tbsps ( 1 oz) sugar
1 tsp ( 0.25oz) salt
1 1/3 tsp ( 0.15oz ) instant yeast
2 tbsps ( 1 oz) vegetable oil
2 large ( 3.3oz) eggs, slightly beaten
2 large ( 1.25oz) egg yolks, slightly beaten
3/4cup plus 2tbsps to 1 1/8cups ( 7-9 oz) water, room temperature
2 egg whites, whisked until frothy, for egg wash ( i used 1 whole egg, beaten )
sesame seeds for garnish

1. Stir together the flour, sugar, salt and yeast in the bowl of an electric mixer/machine. In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, eggs and yolks and 3/4 cup water. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and beat with paddle attachment ( i used a dough hook all the way ) on low speed until all the ingredients comes to form a ball. Add the remaining water, if needed. ( i added about 1/4 cup water more )
2.Change to dough hook and increase the speed to medium low speed for 6 mins, sprinkle more flour if needed, should pass the windowpane test ( mine takes about 15 minutes to achieve that ). Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and form a round dough and let it proof in an oiled bowl for 1 hour.
3.Remove the dough from bowl and knead for 2 mins to degas. Reshape it into a ball again and let if proof for another 1 hour, should be 1.5 times its original size.
4. Remove the dough and divide the dough into 2 equal portions and each portion, divide into 6 pieces and let the rest for 10 mins before shaping. For how to shape the 6 braided challah, kindly refer here.
5. Line a sheet pan or baking tray with parchment paper and transfer the loaves to the pan . Brush the loaves with egg wash and mist the loaves with spry oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Proof for 60-75 mins or until the dough has grown to 1.5 times its original size. Preheat the oven at 350F/177C, brush again with egg wash and sesame seeds on top. Place it in the middle rack on the oven.  ( I only did egg wash once that is just before putting it in the oven and did not mist the loaves, i overlooked it!)
6. Bake for 20 minutes, rotate the pan 180degrees and continue to bake for another 20-45 minutes, depending on the size of the loaf. The bread should be rich golden brown and register 190F in the center. When done, transfer the bread to a rack and cool at least 1 hour before slicing.  ( i baked mine at 175C for 20 minutes , rotate the pan and baked for another 20 minutes)

Linking this post to Bake Your Own Bread ( BYOB) hosted by Heather, MIchelle and Connie


  1. Lena, are you sure you are not good at braiding hair? you have done a very good job on braiding the bread, so nice!

  2. Lena good at braiding hair? I am sending over my girl to you!

  3. What a beautiful bread! This is so special and you've done a wonderful job!

  4. This is such a beautiful loaf! Can't believe its your first time making it.

  5. Beautiful! I still have not dared to try the 6 braided challah, too confusing as you said.

  6. So nicely braided and you say your first challah! You are too humble lah...

  7. Lovely Challah! And nice work on the 6 braided! It looks like the work of a pro! I will have to try with that, one of these days! And like you, I am lousy with braiding hair, my daughter always complained and asked me to learn when she was younger! I learnt but I failed too! Hahaha!

  8. I'm so exciting when I saw your challah! I sruggled a bit when I had to make the 3 braid bread & this is double the braids, double the confusion to me, hahaha?

  9. Lena, you have done it so beautifully! First time,kah? Cannot believe. Hah! Hah! It really looks like a nice bread to eat. When I am brave enough, I will try making it. Very impressed lah.

  10. Lena, this one looks too comprehensive for me to bake. kekekeke! Wait till I have the courage.

  11. Lena you braided the challah very neat and gorgeous. So actually how to pronounce " challah" - calah? or kalak?

  12. This looks delicious! I have never made one either, but you have made me want to try. yum!

  13. Yes, indeed it looks very nicely done, good job Lena :) and the bread looks very soft and fluffy. Learn to braid bread, can also braid hair, kill two birds with one stone hahaha!

  14. This ha-lah looks very soft and yummy~~ how does it taste? Sweet and can go without spread?

    I only know how to do 3-braid one, err, not challah of course! I mean hair :) So now, can you do six-braid on my hair?

  15. I love Peter Reinhart bread book :) Your challah bread looks great and you have done a great job on the braiding of the bread :)

  16. Saw this challah bread especially during Christmas time, but don't know when i will try this, long list to go. Anyway, your challar look beautiful.

  17. it looks perfect to me!! What patience to bake your own bread- I haven't done this in ages.

  18. hheehhee i also learn a thing or two from youtube as well, Lena. Your challah looks great. I bet it smells heavenly while to dip this in creamy tomato soup..yum yum

  19. Oh my gosh, what an ABSOLUTELY stunning braid. I have always been intimidated by anything more than a 3-strand. I'll have to check out that video. This is so beautiful, thanks so much for adding it to the BYOB bread basket this month, Lena =)

  20. Dear Lena,

    Your first challah
    And oredi so well made
    I rate it a five-star
    And I will be glad
    To have a loaf of your challah
    To eat with my home-made kaya

    No matter how awkward the situation
    I am not one who can blush crimson
    So,if you can make me turn pink
    Without the use of food or drink
    Whether out of shyness or whatever
    It will be a miracle for sure
    I won't turn away and hide
    The blushing is my 'glow of pride'
    For being able to blush for the first time
    Able to do so till the poets run out of rhyme
    Like you said, blushing is a good thing
    Hope for a miracle from God, my King
    However, I am not a "blusher"
    Only a happy-go-lucky dreamer

    Have a great week

  21. Eileen, Hundred Eighty DegreesSeptember 10, 2012 at 8:34 PM

    Hi Lena, this is a awesome braid! Didn't look amateur, well done: )

  22. All I can say is , gorgeous braided bread ! :D Wonderful job , Lena ! I've been eyeing this plaited bread recipe and looking at your wonderful creation , I think I'll attempt that 3 strand braid ! lol

  23. Wow Lena. you challah looks beautifully braided and the texture is just perfect.
    Have a wonderful week ahead :)

  24. That's one perfect challah, Lena. Thumbs up for you.

  25. Lena, your bread is gorgeous and looks like it came from a fine bakery! Your pictures have me drooling and wanting to crank up the oven!

  26. Lena your bread has a very nice looking, and the cross section shows that the bread is nice and soft :)

  27. jess: thanks and yes, i'm lousy at braiding hair!

    edith: no! it will be a torture for your girl! LOL!

    brittany: thank you!

    mich: thanks, good help from youtube!

    jeannie: actually quite confusing. Even if you ask me to do it again, i will still hv to refer back to that video!

    chris: thank you!me humble? really?

    joyce: I'm so lousy at braiding hair, cant even braid my own hair, you will see my hair all loose here and there!!

    jessie: actually the braiding follows the the same steps consequently, when you really want to make one someday, i urge you to watch the video.

    phong hong: you can always start with 3 braid first. You not brave meh? that japanese cheesecake was a brave attempt!

    yan: start to make bread first, then slowly you can attempt this:)

    angeline: ''ha-lah"

    cathleen: hey, your bread looks good, i think you can try making this, shouldnt be a problem to you!it's also a nice bread to eat!

    esther: hahaha! i imagine the person who lets me braid her hair will suffer then!

    yvonne: like a normal bread but very slight sweet and not really eggy taste. I dare not braid your hair, you will end up crying probably!

    elin: thank you so much, i want to try the 5 min method soon!

    sonia: yeah, me too hv so many bakes want to try, as if we making money! haha!

    daphne: yes, bread baking do takes up time, sometimes can even go up to 6 hours! phew!

    jen: actually this is quite a soft bread, the crust is soft too. It's delicious with spread and yes, good with soups too!

    heather : thank you! i missed joining last month and so glad that i could make an entry to BYOB this month!

  28. dreamer :

    ok, so you're not one who can easily blush
    what if i do something to make you frust
    would you go banging the door creating a fuss
    or just silently keep it on the hush

    I am also not one who can easily turn pink
    not after a drink or BBQ under the sun
    unless i see George Clonney giving me a wink
    Not only pink, will turn red too like a plum!

  29. eileen: thank you, you're really nice!

    anne: hahaha! ok ok 3 braid one!

    amanda: thank you and thanks for coming by!

    juliana: thanks, you hv a wonderful week too ! also a delicious week!

    angie: thank you! but i have to tell you that all your breads always amaze me!

    chris: oh chris, thanks for your compliments always! you made me smile:)

    Daphne: thank you! you must be very busy with your cake orders!! have a good week!

  30. Lena, this is such a beautiful loaf ya! Your six braid challah is soooo swee! I think I have never attempted more then 4 braids, hats off to you my dear. ;) Plus the inside looks so soft, yums!!

  31. Your first challah is already a six-braid! So talented, lena!

  32. Hi Lena, I have eaten a similar bread here in Toronto, but with raisins.....yours sure looks fantastic. I love the texture inside....and can imagine with ice coffee, it'll just be sinfully out of this world.

    With a lady like you, any man or hubby would be happy coming home after a hard day's see this bread. I would!
    Lena, you're simply great!
    Have fun.

  33. Wow, congrats for the challah! I plan to try it some day too :)

    You're brave to start with the six-braided one!

  34. girl- you should be so proud of yourself! This challah looks down right delicious and amazing and perfect and buttery and moist! all the above and more! So happy for you. wishing i had a slice right now

  35. What a beautiful Challah you have! I love to see braided bread, it gives me the sense of cosy and warmth feeling and it brings up the real feel of a bakery. Seeing this bread reminded me the bakery I visited while I was in Zurich years ago. Under the wooden ceiling and the whole place filled with the wheat and the fresh oven bake fragrance... Awww....

  36. Hi Lena, very nice challah bread.... got white coffee or not? LOL
    You can braid very well, look beautiful.

  37. WOW! These look so pro mann! Gorgeous bread with amazing braid! Well done Lena! BTW I've baked the nectarine cake & it was delicious! Can I link to your blog for the recipe if I post it in my blog. Thanks for sharing your wonderful recipes. It was always AWESOME! :)

  38. Wah magic hamds you have there...very skill with the braid.

  39. bee : i never attempted 4 braid, from the book also looks a lil confusing but you follow the video to make 6 braid, i'm sure you cam also make this!

    maureen: if i make this without reference, then i'm talented! LOL!

    lee: thank you! hope the man comes home and dont say, ' hey, i work like a dog and you so free playing with dough' haha!

    miriam and bogdan: thank you! i'm sure you can do it as well! look at your croissants, they are wonderful!

    jessica: thanks, dear! yeah, i should be proud of myself, i'm really happy seeing this 6 braided challah!

    honeyboy: i wish i can go to one of those swiss or french bakeries and taste their bread! the way you described i wish i'm also there!!the environment is just so different from here.

    amelia: thank you, it's not really that simple doing it for the first time but still fun!

    kit: thank you! yeah, sure you can link it back to mine, or you can link it back to either joyce or zoe's blog, no problem! happy to know that you like it!

    mkgirl: mana ada magic hand, itu semua help from the video but it was quite fun doing the braiding!

  40. Fluffy, soft and yummy. Brilliant job!!

  41. This is brilliant stuff just like a professional baker. Can't believe you made this at home!!Too good!!