breads & recipes: challah (brioche)

Brioche Challah Bread Recipe When I first began making Challah for Shabbat on Friday nights I would have to start thinking about it on Thursday so that I wouldn't forget. Now it is second nature and as soon as I wake up on Friday I make the dough. I began making the Challah because I wanted to create a family tradition. We don't belong to a synagogue and it was important for me to set aside the time to recognize what I feel is our most important holiday, Shabbat. Friday night is a time for us to regroup as a family, have a meal together and discuss the weekend, which are often as busy as our weekdays. It is a pause, a breather, a time to reconnect with each other and our faith. The lighting of the Shabbat candles, the prayer over the wine and the bread remind us that we are a part of a bigger picture. We usually have a lot of Challah left over for the below recipe can be divided to make two small loaves, but we like to make a large one. We love the leftover bread as it makes the best French toast. We also enjoy it toasted with butter and jam. Challah is basically a brioche. All brioches have the same core ingredients. Brioche is sweet bread and we find the word brioche in a very famous saying, "S’ils n’ont plus de pain, qu’ils mangent de la brioche". "If they have no bread, let them eat cake". Marie-Antoinette is credited with this infamous quote. It is not certain that she did utter those words and it is also a mistake to think that if she did it was as big a slight as history has made it to be for it may refer to price regulation of bread. You don't have to be Jewish to make a Challah. And, you don’t even have to braid the Challah. You can bake it in small pans to be taken out and eaten with a little butter and jam. You can roll it into little buns to use for sandwiches or you shape it into a loaf to serve at dinner, any day of the week. This bread is extremely versatile, but most importantly it is extremely delicious!
Challah (Brioche) Ingredients 4 cups bread flour 1 tablespoon salt ¼ cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for proofing 1 ¼ cup warm water 1 tablespoon or 1 packet, active dry yeast 1 large egg plus one egg yolk for egg wash ¼ cup vegetable oil ¼ cup honey Directions 1. Place the yeast, 1 tablespoon sugar and water in a small bowl and mix together. Let stand in a warm location letting the yeast proof. (Bubble until about double its volume) 2. Sift together the flour, ¼ cup sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl. 3. In a small bowl whisk together the egg, vegetable oil and honey. (Quick tip: When measuring out the oil and honey first pour the oil in the ¼ measuring cup. Then, measure out the honey. The residual oil in the cup will allow the honey to slide out, taking with it the oil that was coating the side of the measuring cup.) 4. When the yeast is finished proofing make a crater hole in the flour mixture. 5. Pour in the yeast mixture and the egg mixture. Combine by using your dough attachment for your stand alone mixer or if you do not have one oil a sturdy mixing spoon and combine the ingredients until a sticky dough is formed. 6. The dough will be very, sticky. Oil a large bowl and place the dough into the bowl. Cover the bowl with a damp dish towel and let rise in a warm location. (In the winter I put my stove on warm and place the bowl nearby or if I need to run my dishwasher I place the bowl on the counter above it.) 7. Let the dough double in size. Then, with floured hands, on a floured surface, knead the dough a few times and place back into the bowl to rise again. 8. After it doubles in size, again, place the dough on a heavily floured surface. Knead until the dough is not sticky and feels smooth. Then, cut the dough into 3 equal sizes. Roll each portion into a medium to long length for braiding. 9. Once all three portions are ready, begin to braid ¼ down from the top, leaving the top alone for the moment. When you finish at the bottom pinch and tuck the end. Go back to the top and braid, pinching and tucking that end as well. 10. Place the Challah on an oiled baking sheet. Cover and let rise for about 1 hour. 11. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl mix the egg yolk with a bit of milk. Brush the mixture over the Challah. Bake until golden brown.
Photography Data: ApertureFNumber: f/5.0 Make: Canon Model: Canon EOS 50D ExposureTime: 3/10 FNumber: 5/1 ExposureProgram: 3 ISOSpeedRatings: 100 MaxApertureValue: 1/1 MeteringMode: 5 Flash: 16 FocalLength: 50/1
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  • May 18, 2012 at 11:15 am //

    I love Challah – and although I’m not Jewish, I appreciate the traditions. I love the ‘mini-challahs’! Thanks!

    • May 18, 2012 at 8:57 pm //

      Thank you so much, Challah really is so versatile = )

  • May 18, 2012 at 12:32 pm //

    Beautiful! I love challah but have never tried making it. This might be my Sunday project.

    • May 18, 2012 at 8:58 pm //

      You’ll love it Lindsey, it’s a very versatile bread, any shape, you can use loaf pans and it can be used to make sandwich, for a healthier version we sometimes use soba flour.

  • May 18, 2012 at 2:13 pm //

    I love challah! My uncle converted to Judaism several years back and I remember eating this at his house on Friday nights. I still get some from Noah’s Bagels every once in awhile. Looks beautiful!

  • May 18, 2012 at 2:42 pm //

    Your honey challah looks so delicious. Iactually made my first six strand braided challah yesterday for daring bakers. :)

  • May 18, 2012 at 5:38 pm //

    I admire your attention to tradition. These days, not many people pay respect to the importance of simply re-grouping with your family. I’d love to start doing so with my own family :) Maybe not brioche, I’ll give that one to you :D

  • May 18, 2012 at 6:26 pm //

    This is so cute! I actually just ate one today, but that butter made my stomach so happy!

    • May 18, 2012 at 8:57 pm //

      lol, feel free to use some butter.

  • May 18, 2012 at 6:27 pm //

    Oh wait! Yours don’t have butter in it?! Hummm then what was the thing I just ate? They look exactly the same..

    • May 18, 2012 at 8:55 pm //

      No Butter in the recipe, but you can top it off with butter. When we celebrate Shabbat on Fridays, we omit diary products as much as possible. But if you aren’t Jewish, feel free to put a pat of butter and enjoy with some jam.

  • May 18, 2012 at 9:09 pm //

    My absolute favorite food in the whole wide world. And…that is a perfect looking brioche/challah.

  • May 18, 2012 at 10:02 pm //

    I love challah and brioche both. I didn’t realize that they are technically the same thing. I love your miniature version.

  • May 18, 2012 at 10:28 pm //

    Wow – what a perfect golden brown! These must have been a pleasure to gobble down. Brioche Challah is a bread that can certainly stand on its own.

  • May 18, 2012 at 10:31 pm //

    Your challah looks fantastic! It does make amazing French toast. Making little buns out of the dough is a great idea. I have to try that!

  • May 18, 2012 at 11:17 pm //

    Yes, the infamous saying by Marie Antoinette – in college my French teacher adamantly denied she ever said it, but no one will ever know for sure! The challah looks absolutely gorgeous. I love the idea of making small buns with the dough.

  • May 19, 2012 at 1:04 am //

    i’ve never tried challah… i need to start baking with yeast. i love how you give the photography specs, i have no clue how to use my Nikon, I just click.

  • May 19, 2012 at 1:27 am //

    You don’t even have to be Jewish to light the candles on Friday and feel connected to something larger! My partner is Jewish, so sometimes we take a moment on Friday evening. GREG

  • May 19, 2012 at 5:28 am //

    Gorgeous photo of the challah! You must have been reading my mind because this particular bread is something on my to-bake list. Thank you for the recipe!

  • May 19, 2012 at 8:54 pm //

    Your challah looks so good! What bakeware would you recommend baking the mini challah in, because I would love making it this way. Thank you.

  • May 20, 2012 at 12:02 am //

    Wow, looks amazing!!

  • May 20, 2012 at 1:40 am //

    I LOVE Challah! And I love that you used oil in this. Whenever I make it, I normally eat half the loaf before it’s even cool. It’s just so wonderful, especially when warm. And what a beautiful picture. :)

  • May 21, 2012 at 12:31 pm //

    Lovely picture! Shows the lovely texture and all I can think off right now is how can I get my hands on that?!