clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
Beautiful challah bread

Simple Challah Recipe, with braiding instructions


Rich, sweet challah recipe, adapted from Cook’s Illustrated.


For the tangzhong paste

  • ½ C water
  • 3 Tbsp bread flour


  • 1 large egg plus 2 large yolks
  • ¼ C water
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 ¾ C (15⅛ oz) bread flour
  • 1 ¼ tsp instant yeast
  • ¼ C (1¾ oz) sugar
  • 1 tsp table salt
  • 1 Tbsp sesame or poppy seeds, optional

Egg Wash

  • 1 large egg
  • Pinch salt


Make the dough

  • Stir together the ingredients for the paste in a microwave-safe bowl until there are no lumps.
  • Cook the paste mixture in the microwave in 20-second intervals, whisking between cooks, until the mixture is thick, like slightly-stiff cream of wheat or pudding.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the oil, egg, egg yolks, flour paste, and remaining water.

Making the wet-base for challah

  • Change the mixer attachment out for the dough hook.
  • Add the remaining flour and the yeast. Mix together until all the flour is moistened.
  • Let the dough sit, covered, for 20 minutes to hydrate and autolyze. (Use a timer to keep track of the time.)
[gallery link="none" columns="2" size="medium" ids="30242,30243"]
  • Add the sugar and salt and knead the dough for nine minutes at medium speed.
  • Remove the dough and grease the inside of the bowl with oil or nonstick spray. Put the dough back in, cover the bowl, and let the dough rise at 85°F (29°C) until doubled in volume, about 90 minutes.

readying the dough to ferment

Braid the bread

  • Turn the bread out on a countertop. Do not flour the countertop! You need the friction of the bare counter to help keep the strands in place while braiding.
  • Divide the dough into four equal parts and roll them all out into strands about 14–16 inches long.
  • Pinch all four strands together at one end and number the positions, 1–4.
  • Cross strand 4 over strand 2.
  • Cross strand 1 over strand 3.
  • Cross strand 2 over strand 3.
  • Repeat the pattern until you run out of dough. Pinch the strands together and tuck them under the loaf.
  • Place the loaf on a parchment-lined baking sheet and cover it loosely with plastic wrap that has been oiled on the contact side.
  • Set the loaf aside to proof in a place that is as close to 85°F (29°C) as possible.
  • Allow the loaf to rise until it no longer springs back easily or fully when poked, about 2–3 hours.


  • When the bread is done proofing, or nearly so, preheat your oven to 350°F (177°C).
  • Make the egg wash by beating together the egg, the pinch of salt, and a teaspoon of water.
  • Brush the egg wash onto the surface of the loaf. If you are using the sesame or poppy seeds, sprinkle them on now.

Challah going in the oven

  • Place the loaf in the oven and bake.
  • After 35 minutes of baking, check the internal temperature of the loaf with your Thermapen ONE. If the lowest temp you see is 195–200°F (91–93°C), the bread is done.
  • Let the bread cool before slicing, then serve and enjoy!

Sliced challah