Challah bread is a rich and buttery loaf, that is typically braided. Generally, this type of bread is made for the Jewish holidays and Shabbat.
A lot of people get nervous when it comes to braiding bread. However, there is nothing to fret about, as it is quite simple to braid challah dough. In this article, we will be giving you some braiding tips on how to braid challah.
How To Make Challah Bread
Before you start braiding challah, you need to make your challah dough using a challah recipe of your choice.
You can either make it by hand or in a stand mixer/bread machine. This process will take a few hours to complete.
In a small bowl, you need to combine warm milk, butter, eggs, honey, and yeast together. You want to whisk these ingredients together and leave n the side for up to 3 minutes to foam up.
After that, you can put your flour and salt in either a stand mixer with a dough hook or a large bowl. Slowly add your yeast mixture and combine using either a wooden spoon or a spatula.
Now it’s time to knead your dough. If kneading by hand, then you will knead for between 5 and 6 minutes. While with a mixer, you only need the machine to knead for 4 to 5 minutes.
You are aiming for a bread dough that is shiny and soft, but is still slightly sticky.
Put the dough to proof in an oiled bowl covered with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel. This proofing stage may take between an hour to 90 minutes in a warm place. You want the dough to double in volume.
After this time, you can get your dough out to think about shaping, and braiding your bread, before one final proof, back under the plastic wrap.
When it comes to baking challah, place the challah dough on a greased cookie sheet, and apply an egg wash and your desired toppings like poppy seeds or sesame seeds.
How To Braid A 4 Strand Challah
Once your dough has finished proofing, transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. After you have knocked back the dough, knead it into a round circle. Then divide the dough into 4 equal portions using a knife or bench scraper.
With each ball of dough, roll it out using a rolling pin and create a long rope shape. Then, you can place all four ropes next to one another, and attach them together at the top, by pressing the ends together.
Now follow these braiding instructions to braid your four-strand challah dough.
- Take the rope on the right (rope 4) and weave it over rope 3 and under rope 2 and the left strand.
- Now take the rope that has become the new rope 4, and repeat this same step again. Going over, under, and over once again.
- Complete this sequence until there is no dough left.
Once the bread has been braided, you can pinch the ends together and tuck them under the challah loaf. Finally, allow the bread to rise a final time before baking. Then brush the challah dough with an egg wash and some sesame seeds or poppy seeds.
4 Strand Round Challah
If you want to create a round loaf, try the 4 strand round challah. This braiding process is different from a normal braid.
Divide your dough into 4, and lay two strands horizontally. Then, with the other two strands, lay them vertically onto the other strands.
With the vertical strand on your right and weave the top half under the upper horizontal strand. Then, with the vertical strand on your left, weave the lower half under the lower horizontal strand. Try to keep all the strands as close together as possible, to reduce gaps.
Now, with the lowest horizontal strand, weave it over the vertical strand on the right. Continue this pattern, going around the circle in a counterclockwise motion. With the loose ends, tuck them under the loaf, and your challah braid is complete.
How To Braid A 6 Strand Challah Bread
A strand 6 challah bread is definitely a challenge, but with some practice, there is nothing stopping you from trying this challah recipe. A 6 strand challah bread, will impress your friends and family.
Divide the dough and create six strands. Now, like before, lay all your strands next to one another and pinch them at the top to connect them.
With 6 strands you need to remember the following pattern – over 2, under 1, and over 2. Once again, take the strand that is on the right and weave it towards your left.
You will take this strand and weave it over 2 strands, under 1 stand, and then over the final 2 strands.
Continue with the same pattern until no more dough is left. Pinch the ends once again and allow the bread one final rise, before adding egg wash and baking.
Do You Have To Let Challah Dough Rise After Braiding?
After you have braided your dough, you should put it onto a baking sheet, and give it one final proof before baking.
With a lot of bread dough, if they are naturally wet dough or sticky dough, then they have to go through another proof.
As you have plaited your dough, you must give it one final rise to follow the braid to set in. This also means that when the dough goes into bake, the braid won’t come undone.
In addition to this, it also makes sure that your challah bread isn’t dense or doughy in the middle. Therefore, give it 20 to 30 minutes for its final rise, as it doesn’t need as long as you left it for its first proof.
Now you should be able to braid challah at home. We have covered strand challah and round challah, thus braiding challah shouldn’t seem so scary anymore.
By following our steps, you will create an impressive-looking challah loaf either by hand or using a bread machine, that should be golden brown and taste delicious.