I swore to myself that Challah bread could only be perfect if it came in a package. From a store.
When I baked it at home, I could never get it to resemble closely enough the texture and look these store brands consistently produced. It just wasn't possible. Nope. Nada.
Until now! This Challah Bread recipe is the absolute BEST. The bread bakes up the way it's supposed to with that airy, soft interior and golden brown crust. Hallelujah, my friends, hallelujah!
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The Best Recipe Resource
You've most likely read my posts about how I trust only a select few resources for solid, go-to recipes. One of these sources is Cook's Illustrated Magazine which is also home to America's Test Kitchen.
I rave about their magazine, their website and cookbooks.
Not only does ATK produce amazing and consistently good recipes, the authors and test kitchen staff explain the multitudes of tests they ran to produce such results as well as in-depth explanations as to why certain methods or ingredients work so well and others do not.
They also provide us readers with the ultimate, best recipe after concluding their tests. Works for me!
I love reading about all their tests and methods, I usually learn something(s) new, and benefit from a perfectly crafted recipe. (This is not sponsored in any way, I just love this publication and all that they do)
In addition, I secretly (well, not so secretly anymore!) would love to be a member of the Test Kitchen. How freaking cool would it be to test recipes every day and get paid for it?!
I know this isn't everyone's cup of tea, but for me, this would be a dream job.
Holla for the Best Challah Recipe
Now, Cook's Illustrated has previously published a recipe for Challah that I've been using for years. I liked it. Didn't love it. But, it was the best one I could find.
Until.... they came out with their FAVORITE Challah recipe recently. And now it is definitely my favorite challah recipe, too!
I mean, look at it! The rich golden crust. The perfectly soft and airy inside. It's just like the store-bought versions, only better.
Why? Well, because it's homemade, that's why! It fills my house with the most tantalizing aroma while it's baking and it delights my tummy with it's satisfying texture and taste.
Until now, I did not think this was possible. Thank you, ATK and Cook's Illustrated!
As you'll see in the recipe, one of the critical methods that ATK employs to produce their new favorite challah is an Asian method of creating a flour paste out of cooked flour and water called tangzhong.
This technique produces softer yeast breads - exactly what we want in a challah. I linked a quick article from King Arthur Flour about this method, how it works in bread recipes and why it's becoming so popular in the US.
Basically, it rocks in every way, creating a superior texture in soft breads and helping them stay fresh longer. Win win!
Tips for Making This Recipe
- Like most recipes for homemade bread, it's recommended that you weigh your dry ingredients. In this case, weigh the bread flour and the sugar (the other dry ingredients are in small measurements, too small to weigh). The cup measurements are provided in the recipe as well as the weights for convenience. However, a much better texture and chew will result from this challah bread recipe if you weigh your ingredients rather than measure them in cups. This is because weight is much more precise a measure so your proportions of dry to wet ingredients will be precise to produce the best result
- Most bread recipes call for you to knead your bread on a well-floured surface. For this challah bread recipe, it is not recommended that you flour your kneading surface. This is because friction is needed to roll and braid the ropes of bread dough. Also, this is a stiff and dry dough, so adding additional flour will increase the dryness, resulting in a much drier and denser loaf of bread. Nope, we do not want that
- When rolling out the 4 strands of dough for this challah recipe, taper the ends of all the ropes. This helps you create ends that are less bulky and more proportionate to the rest of the braid. Bulky ends may also require more baking time which could result in overbaking of the rest of your loaf
- Rather than baking your challah bread on a single baking sheet, nest two baking sheets inside of one another to keep the bottom of the loaf from getting too dark or burnt
- As difficult as it may be, follow the recipe instructions to allow the challah loaf to cool completely for at least 2 hours before slicing and eating. (Good luck with that one!)
Useful Kitchen Tools for Making Challah
Like this recipe? Follow me on Pinterest for lots more recipes just like this one! And don’t forget to pin this recipe for later by clicking on one of the images below the recipe. Or, click on any of the images in this post to save to Pinterest.
How to Braid 4-Strand Challah Video (<1 Minute)
Looking for more delicious bread recipes? Give these a try:
10 servings per container
- Amount Per ServingCalories110
- % Daily Value *
- Total Fat
- Saturated Fat 1.5g 8%
- Cholesterol 37mg 13%
- Sodium 125.1mg 6%
- Total Carbohydrate
- Dietary Fiber 0.6g 3%
- Sugars 2.6g
- Protein 3.5g 8%
* The % Daily Value tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
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