Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Sep 19, 2007 07:26 AM

Need good challah recipe! [moved from Manhattan board]

Any suggestions on a really great challah recipe? Tried the recipe from JC's Baking w/ Julia last year and wasn't too thrilled.

Has anyone tried Joan Nathan's recipe? Thoughts?


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I've made Joan Nathan's Ultimate Challah and really liked it:

    In step 5, I roughly shape them into logs and then let them rest before I roll them out into the strands. I still have a hard time getting long skinny strands so I end up with fat loaves of bread but they taste really good. I also keep it covered in the final rise before going into the oven and usually skip the last step of leaving it in the oven for 5 minutes after turning the oven off.

    2 Replies
    1. re: smbslt42

      Thank you for the recipe and the tip. I will certainly give it a try. Is the recipe more on the sweeter side?

      Have you also come across any chocolate/ chocolate chip challah recipes?

      1. re: ishyu

        It's kinda sweet, but not overwhelmingly so. I think it is great plain, or smeared with Nutella and it makes fantastic french toast.

    2. What didn't you like about that recipe? I made it last week and received rave reviews.

      I've made Joan Nathan's recipe, and that's good too.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Chocolatechipkt

        There wasn't anything particularly bad about it--just was mediocre. It didn't seem sweet or soft enough.

        Does anyone know what happens if you let the bread rise one too many times? I think I may have done that and perhaps it affected it.

        1. re: ishyu

          Hmm ... mine was very soft! I made half into a braided loaf and the other half into little rolls. I don't measure the honey, though, so maybe I added a bit more? Did you knead it long enough?

          Letting the dough rise too much can exhaust the yeast ... but I don't know that one extra time would be so bad. Depends on so many factors, yk?

          1. re: Chocolatechipkt

            Hmm.. so the key is to knead it longer? How do you know when it's enough? Is there any chance that if you knead it too much, it'll get tough (similar to muffin/pancake/biscuit batter)?

            BTW: The photo of those little challah rolls look absolutely scrumptous!

            1. re: ishyu


              I think you need to knead it for 10-12 min., according to the recipe, and that does make a difference. But yes, you can overknead bread dough, too--just not as quickly as with biscuits or muffins. Are you doing this by hand or with a stand mixer? The mixer is a lot easier--it does the hard work for you, though you need to make sure the dough doesn't climb up the hook, lol. If you're doing it by hand, make sure the counter is lightly floured, and don't add more flour unless necessary--that amount will change each time you make the bread. In the end, the dough should be smooth and pliable, not sticky--kind of pillow-like, and it will bounce back under pressure from your fingertips. I love the feel of smooth dough.

      2. Last week I made the version from Bread Baker's Apprentice - delicious but needed a touch more sugar.

        1. Here's what I do:

          Start with 3-1/2 cups AP flour, you will use more for kneading, etc.

          4 eggs (some recipes tell you to separate a couple of the eggs and only use the yolks, but I find if you use the whole egg, the bread comes out lighter and bigger.

          1/4 cup honey

          1/2 cup oil or melted butter (or mixed)

          pinch salt

          1 tablespoon traditional yeast

          tsp sugar

          1/2 cup warm water

          In large bowl put 1/2 cup warm water, blend in tsp sugar. Sprinkle yeast over top and let sit for about 10 min. You know it's ready when it's all foamy on top.
          Add the rest of the ingredients and start incorporating with a wooden spoon. When it starts to cling together in a ball (it will still be very moist), transfer to a floured surface. I keep adding a little bit of flour, as necessary, while kneading. Knead for about 10 minutes. The dough will be elastic and smooth to the touch.
          Place in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. I also put a dish cloth over the bowl and I place it beside (not on) the oven that is preheated. The idea is to keep it somewhere that is warm(ish). Let it rise for 1 hour.
          The dough should have doubled at the 1 hour point. Lightly “punch” down the dough. This is where I either put about 1/2 of a cup of sesames seeds OR 1/2 cup golden raisins OR ¾ cup semisweet chocolate chunks in the dough. I fold over the dough a couple times in the bowl and then let it rest for 5 min.
          Then I let the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. You can do a crown or a braid at this point. For a crown you need to make a very long (about 18 centimetres) rope and twirl it around itself into a crown. For a braid, I find that 5 ropes work best. Join them at one end and take the outside one and put over the closest two beside it. Go the other way over two, and back and forth so that you have a symmetrical braid that joins in the middle (I don’t think I’m describing this part very well, but I just do it this way). For the crown, I have decided that it would stay in the same shape better if it was baked in a narrower pan with higher sides to prevent it from expanding outward when baking, but I haven't tried this yet.
          After the dough is shaped, place on a well greased sheet pan and cover again with plastic and than a towel and place in the same warm spot. Let rise for another hour.
          It will have doubled again. Brush with an eggwash. For the sesame one, sprinkle with sesames. For the raisin one, I sprinkle with a flour/sugar mixture. For the chocolate one, just hard sugar.
          Bake in 325 degree oven for about 40 minutes.

          1 Reply
          1. re: pescatarian

            Looks like a mean yummy challah. Do you know what the difference is between using butter or oil? I've seen both and don't know which one's better. I've also seen some where they've suggested using milk (half milk, half water). Thoughts?

          2. My sister made the challah recipe from the New Best Recipe Cook's Illustrated recipe book--she said it was great!

            1 Reply
            1. re: sibaik

              Marcie Goldman has several variations on challah in her two wonderful cookbooks, A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking and the Best from My favorite is the whole wheat one from the Treasury book. the leftovers make wonderful, dense, french toast. If you cannot get to the book store or library you can purchase a recipe from