Challah Braiding!

Our challah dough is based on a family recipe, and is made of orange juice, olive oil, honey, and eggs. I converted the recipe to a wild yeast version, which gives the bread additional flavor and texture.    This is a really versatile dough. Unlike pizza dough, you can freeze challah dough.

  • Rolling is one of the most important parts of creating a nice braid. You want your strands to be, ideally, the same size and shape. This uniformity and neatness is key to a beautiful braid.

    • Don’t use too much flour; that makes it harder to roll.

  • Temperature.  Keep your dough at between 70-80 F. Challah is happiest at around 75-78 F.  If you go too much above 80 F, the dough will rise really fast, and if you head into the upper 80s and 90s F, you’ll notice that the oil will start separating out from the dough. So be careful with temperature!

  • Braiding. Braiding is all about practice!  If you practice 50 times, you start to build muscle memory. You can practice with ropes. Here are some good sites for these shapes:

    • 6 braid long: “To make a 6-braid challah, either straight or circular, take half the dough and form it into 6 balls. With your hands, roll each ball into a strand about 12 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide. Place the 6 in a row, parallel to one another. Pinch the tops of the strands together. Move the outside right strand over 2 strands. Then take the second strand from the left and move it to the far right. Take the outside left strand and move it over 2. Move second strand from the right over to the far left. Start over with what is now the outside right strand. Continue this until all strands are braided. For a straight loaf, tuck ends underneath. For a circular loaf, twist into a circle, pinching ends together. Make a second loaf the same way. Place braided loaves on a greased cookie sheet with at least 2 inches in between.” NYTimes

    • 6 braid lattice for round

    • 6 braid round complex

    • 4 braid

    • 8 braid

  • Rise! Let rise until at least double in volume. This will take 1.5 to 3 hours depending on temperature.

  • Egg Wash. Mix 1 tablespoon water and 1 egg. Brush generously right before baking; make sure you get the egg wash in all the nooks and crevices.

  • Pop air bubbles before baking. I cut them with a pair of scissors.

  • Baking. 350 F degrees for 25 minutes, and then check every 2-3 minutes until the crust is how you like it. Turn the challah over to look at the underside — if it’s a golden brown and tapping it produces a hollow sound, your challah is ready to eat!