I don’t mess with yeast-based breads often. It’s one of those once a year things, like when I make homemade cinnamon rolls, or foccacia bread. One might think making yeast breads can be a bit fussy, but it’s actually not as fussy as you would think. It’s all about getting the yeast to activate. The rest is gravy.
Growing up my grandmother would go this little bakery down the street called Fiegs. She’d buy her beloved pumpernickel bagels, which incidentally I would gag at the smell of when I was little, but now adore! – funny how taste buds change, uh? Every so often she’d bring home a loaf of Challah bread. Pumpernickel bagels were her favorite, but Challah was a close runner up, if not equal. She also knew my sister and I loved tearing off knots and eating them. My grandmother is 84 now and it’s my turn to bring her a treat. This recipe makes two loaves. Seeing the smile on my grandma’s face when I handed her a warm loaf of Challah bread this morning was priceless.
If you make this recipe, be sure to give the extra loaf to someone you love, it’ll make their day.
After the dough has risen and been punched down, divide it in half.
I made one loaf rosemary, honey, and olive oil – the other loaf just honey and olive oil.
Knead each half of dough for about 5 minutes and then cut into quarters.
Roll quartered dough into 1 1/2 inch thick snake ropes. This makes a round braided knot by weaving ropes together and tucking the ends in at the end.
Another method would be to make 3 dough ropes, pinch one side of ends together and braid tucking the tail end under.
With the remainder egg , generously brush over both loaves. That’s where it gets it’s shiny golden top.
You can sprinkle it with sesame seeds or leave it plain. I left the rosemary one plain.
Rosemary, Honey & Olive Oil Challah Recipe
Recipe adapted from All Recipes
Makes two loaves
2 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F)
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup honey
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon salt
8 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 sprig of fresh rosemary, finely chopped (about 1 tablespoon per loaf)
In a large mixing bowl (or standing mixer), pour barely warm water in and sprinkle over 1 tablespoon yeast. In a separate small bowl, mix honey, oil, 2 eggs, and salt together. Add mixture to yeast water and mix on low. Add the flour one cup at a time, beating on low after each addition. Knead dough until smooth and elastic-y and no longer sticky (add flour if needed). Lightly grease a large bowl with olive oil, (or grease the bowl you mixed your dough in) and place mound of dough in it. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 1/2 hours or until dough has doubled in size.
With your fist, (this can be fun) punch down the risen dough and plot it onto a floured surface. Divide dough into two parts and knead each half for five minutes, adding flour as needed to keep from getting sticky. Divide each half into quarters and roll into long snakes, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter.
Pinch the ends of the three snakes together firmly and braid from middle. Either leave as braid or form into a round braided loaf by bringing ends together, curving braid into a circle, pinch ends together. Grease two baking trays and place finished braid or round on each. Cover with towel and let rise about one hour.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Beat the remaining egg and brush a generously over both loaves. Bake for about 40 minutes. Cool on a rack for at least one hour before slicing.