Challah Bread overhead shot with slices in front and flowers off the side |

The Best Challah Bread

  • Author: Kim |
  • Prep Time: 1 3/4 hours
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 3/4 hours + 7 hours resting and cooling
  • Yield: 1 loaf 1x


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.



For the Flour Paste:


For the Dough:


For the Egg Wash:


  1. Make the Flour Paste: Whisk water and flour in bowl until no lumps remain. Microwave, whisking every 20 seconds, until mixture thickens to stiff, smooth, pudding-like consistency that forms a mound when dropped from the end of a whisk into the bowl, about 40 to 80 seconds
  2. Make the Dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the flour paste from Step 1, egg and yolks, water, and oil until well combined. Add flour and yeast. Fit mixer with dough hook and mix on low speed until all flour is moistened, 3 to 4 minutes. Let stand for 20 minutes
  3. Add the sugar and salt to the bowl and mix on medium speed for 9 minutes (dough will be quite firm and dry). Transfer dough to counter and lightly spray now-empty mixer bowl with vegetable oil spray. Knead the dough briefly to form a ball and return it to the oiled bowl. Lightly spray the dough with vegetable oil spray and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rise until about doubled in volume, about 1 ½ hours
  4. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and nest in a second rimmed baking sheet to prevent the bottom of the bread from getting too browned or burnt. Transfer the dough to a clean counter and press into an 8-inch square, expelling as much air as possible. Cut the dough in half lengthwise to form 2 rectangles. Cut each rectangle in half lengthwise to form 4 equal strips of dough. Roll 1 strip of dough into a 16-inch rope. Continue rolling, tapering ends, until rope is 18 inches long. Repeat with remaining dough strips. Arrange ropes in plus-sign shape, with the end ends overlapping in the center by ½ inch. Firmly press the center of the plus sign in the center to seal the ropes to each other and to the counter
  5. Braid Dough: Lift the rope at 12 o’clock, bring over the center, and place in the 5 o’clock position. Lift the rope at 6 o’clock, bring over the center, and place in the 12 o’clock position. Lift the rope at 9 o’clock, bring over the center, and place in the 4 o’clock position. Life the rope at 3 o’clock and, working toward yourself, bring over the braid and place in the 8 o’clock position. Adjust ropes so they are at 12, 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions. Repeat these steps, working toward yourself, until you can no longer braid. The loaf will naturally list to one side. Pinch the ends of the rope together and tuck both ends under the braid. Carefully transfer the braid to the prepared baking sheet. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until the dough does not spring back fully when gently pressed with your knuckle, about 3 hours
  6. Make the Egg Wash: Thirty Minutes before baking, adjust oven rack to the middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Whisk together egg and salt. Brush the loaf with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds, if using
  7. Bake: Bake until the loaf is deep golden brown and registers at least 195 degrees F, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool on baking sheet for 20 minutes. Transfer baked loaf to a wire rack and let cool completely before slicing, about 2 hours


  • Bread can be stored at room temperature for 3-4 days. Refrigerate for up to 1 week

  • Slice bread before freezing and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Store in freezer for up to 3 months

  • Recipe from Cook’s illustrated Magazine, May & June 2019

  • Category: Bread
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: Jewish

Keywords: homemade bread, challah, jewish, traditional, braided, braid, flour paste, tangzhong, Cook's Illustrated, favorite challah, best challah recipe

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