How to make Jewish Challah bread

This recipe is taken from Black Sea by Caroline Eden (Quadrille, £25) Photography © Ola O. Smit and Theodore Kaye.

"Maybe only in Odessa would you find Jewish challah – braided bread – on the menu at an Italian restaurant, but at Bernadazzi, one of Odessa’s best restaurants, I found just that."

Ingredients for one medium challah loaf Serves: 6

  • 500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 7g fast-action dried yeast
  • 2 teaspoons fine salt
  • 50g tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 160ml water
  • 50ml vegetable oil, plus extra for oiling
  • 1 egg, beaten

For the top

Method for making challah bread

  1. Attach the dough hook/blade to your mixer bowl. Combine all the ingredients for the dough, initially keeping the salt away from the yeast, in the bowl. Process gradually until the dough forms a sticky ball. This usually takes a couple of minutes.
  2. Or, to knead by hand, mix the dry ingredients in the bowl and the wet in a mixing jug. Make a well in the dry mix, pour in the wet ingredients and mix until you have a shaggy dough, then knead for 5–10 minutes until smooth and a little sticky.
  3. Have a large oiled bowl ready and knead the dough on a floured surface for 2 minutes, then place inside the bowl, rolling once in the oil, and cover with a damp cloth or cling film (plastic wrap). Leave for an hour somewhere warm until doubled in size.
  4. Take the dough and, on a lightly floured surface, split into 3. Using your hands, roll into 3 oblong pieces around 50cm/20-in long, making sure they will fit a baking tray. If you find you cannot gain the friction needed to roll out the ropes, instead of flouring the surface dampen it slightly with a damp cloth; this can help.
  5. Take the 3 pieces and join them, by pinching and tucking under, at one end, and then plait. It’s important not to do this too tightly as the dough will rise. Pinch and tuck under when you come to the end.
  6. Carefully transfer the plaited loaf to a lightly greased baking tray, cover with a damp cloth and leave to prove for at least 30 minutes but no longer than an hour.
  7. Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/gas mark 5. Brush egg wash over the risen loaf and scatter over the sesame seeds and sea salt.
  8. Bake for around 30 minutes, keeping a close eye, until golden, then remove from the oven, place on a wire rack and allow to cool completely before slicing and eating.
© Speciality Cooking Supplies Limited 2024


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