Challah Recipe

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Ingredients:

  • 256g bread flour
  • 82g water
  • 55g eggs
  • 31g oil (canola or soy)
  • 17g sugar
  • 5g salt
  • 5g Instant dry yeast ("rapid rise")
 

At Le Pain Quotidien, one of our favorite breads to bake is the challah loaf. Lightly sweet and extra fluffy, this traditional bread is made from enriched dough, meaning that it contains fats, sugar, eggs and/or milk. By comparison, breads that do not contain these ingredients are typically called "lean" (think baguettes).

We bake up challah loaves in our bakeries every Friday, but now you can make one at home any time you like! This recipe yields one three-strand braid (oval), one four-strand braid (round), one 9" pan loaf or nine dinner rolls. Find a video tutorial on how to make a four-strand round braided loaf here, and how to braid an oval three-stand challah loaf here.

  1. Mix all ingredients into a smooth elastic dough. The dough after mixing should ideally have a temperature of about 75°F. To achieve this temperature when mixing by hand, a water temperature of about 90°F might be used. If using a tabletop mixer, a water temperature of 75°F might be more appropriate. Water temperature will change with the season — in a warmer environment use cooler water; in a cooler environment, use slightly warmer water.
  2. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover the bowl with plastic.
  3. Leave the dough at room temperature for 1 hour and then give it a punch by gently pressing down on the dough to release carbon dioxide.
  4. Cover the bowl again and leave the dough to ferment for 1 hour more at room temperature. Alternately, the dough could be refrigerated at this point for up to 18 hours. When dough is fermented in the refrigerator overnight, both the structure and the flavor are further developed.
  5. When the dough is properly fermented, divide it using a bench knife and a scale to the desired size. For a three-strand braid, divide the dough into 150-gram pieces. (If you have refrigerated the dough, you can divide it directly from the refrigerator. Resting times will be longer as the cold dough will take longer to proof.)
  6. If you’re braiding the dough, preshape the pieces into a log shape. If making a pan loaf or rolls, preshape the dough round. Leave dough seam-side down on the table and
    cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let rest for 15-20 minutes.
  7. Preheat oven to desired temperature. Braids and pan loaves should bake at 375°F. Smaller things like rolls should bake at 400°F. If you’re using a pizza stone, preheat it with the oven.
  8. Give the dough its final shape and place it on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Cover it loosely with plastic after shaping.
  9. Let the dough rise again for approximately 20-30 minutes.
  10. Prepare egg wash: beat one egg with a whisk until it runs very thin, like water.
  11. When the loaf is ready to be baked, give it a light but thorough egg wash. Sprinkle with poppy or sesame seeds, if desired.
  12. A three or four-strand braid will bake for about 25 minutes. A pan loaf will bake for approximately 35 minutes. 50-gram rolls will bake for about 11-13 minutes, 90-gram
    rolls for about 15 minutes.
  13. Transfer bread onto a cooling rack and allow it to cool fully before enjoying.
  14. Challah should be stored in plastic at room temperature. For longer storage, double wrap the loaves in plastic and freeze.
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Challah Recipe

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