Monday, March 15, 2010


This is a bread that enjoyed at Friday night dinners in Jewish households. The kosher law prohibits the serving of dairy with meat, so this bread is usually without any milk products so that it can be eaten along with meat. Since I was not worried about keeping kosher, I sprinkled some parmesan on my version of this bread. Some people add milk instead of water to the recipe; this has a more softer, tender, crumb. But, I kept it lean by using plain water instead. I also added some thyme and pecans to give the bread more flavor since I was not interested in baking something plain. You might've seen varieties of this bread at some point in your life. For me I remember when I was about 6 my Amma and me were watching some silly game show on TV and one of the rounds required the kids on the show to braid dough. It was a race and the team that braided the dough the fastest would win. My Amma and me were so excited about this for some strange reason, we rushed to the kitchen and she prepared some bread dough and we braided it just like on the show. I don't even know if my Amma remembers this story well. It's just something that came to me while I was baking the bread; I hope she remembers it because that was one of the happiest baking days of my life! So enough of the senti part, now for the real story! How to make challah! By the way, it is pronounced Hallah as pointed out by one of our friends.

  • 3/4 cup warm water (as I always say, make sure it's not too hot or too warm as this will kill the yeast).
  • 2 tbsp of honey
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp of active dry yeast
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 tbsp of neutral oil (this would mean sunflower or canola oil that doesn't have much flavour but I used olive oil to keep it healthy)
  • 2 and 1/2 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour (plus some extra while rolling the dough out)
  • 3/4 tsp of salt
  • 1/4 cup of fresh finely chopped thyme
  • 3 to 4 tbsp of finely chopped nuts (I used pecans, but feel free to use whichever one you desire)
  • 1 egg lightly beaten (to brush over or to glaze)
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese or cheddar cheese
Step 1 - Mix and knead the dough:
  • Combine the warm water and honey in a bowl and sprinkle the yeast over the top.
  • Whisk by hand and blend well.
  • Let the mixture sit for 5-10 minutes till the yeast is activated, foaming or bubbly.
  • Add eggs and oil and whisk by hand.
  • Stir in the salt and flour.
  • Mix all these ingredients together for 8-10 minutes.
  • Add nuts and thyme and stir for another 2 minutes
Step 2 - Rise the dough:
  • The dough will be a little sticky and tacky at this point. Oil a fresh bowl and scrape the dough from the first bowl into the fresh one. The dough as I said is very sticky so it would help to oil your palms before handling the dough.
  • Cover the bowl with a damp lint-free cotton towel or plastic wrap and set aside for 45-60 minutes.
Step 3 - Punch and shape the dough:
  • Put the dough on a floured work surface and press firmly to remove large air bubbles. Be sure not to knead the dough at this point.
  • Divide the dough into 3 parts.
  • Roll each part between your palms and the work surface to create long sausage-like forms.
  • Each roll has to be at least 15 inches in length.
  • Place all 3 pieces on a baking tray lined with wax or butter paper.
  • Pinch the top of all 3 pieces together so as to join them at one end.
  • Then, begin to braid the strands of dough.
  • Once braided tuck in and pinch all seams.
  • Cover the braided dough and let it rise one more time for 40-50 minutes.
  • Glaze the braid with the beaten egg and sprinkle grated parmesan or cheddar cheese over the center.
  • Bake the bread at 375 degrees fahrenheit or 190 degrees celsius for 20-25 minutes till the challah is brown.
  • Done!


  1. viji says................
    My dear,How can I ever forget those days???I think, I too was at times crazy like you, & got very inspired by these things, & run to the kitchen to try these new things!
    i think, that was an experiece I too cherish close to my heart!
    Hey, the braids look perfect..........feel sad, you had to cut it.

  2. Looks delicious girl:)... and nostalgic memories huh....soo sweet:)

  3. hey there!
    this is my first view of your blog and this entry caught my eye.. i've made challah before and didn really do it this way.. this is infact the better version of it :)
    i love how you personalize your entry.