Eliana’s Honey Challah for Rosh HaShanah

My Sweet Honey Challah Recipe

This recipe is perfect for Rosh HaShanah! You could even add apples! Original recipe makes 4 loaves; I make 2 and then freeze 2. I usually make it on Thursday night. Note that rising times can vary by altitude.

Ingredients

 Group 1:

  • 3 packets of active dry yeast (You can use 2 but I like my loaves to really rise)
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C – Honestly, I just let the hot water run for a few mins. You don’t want it hot or you can kill the yeast.)

Group 2:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour

Group 3:

  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/4 cup honey (sometimes I use a 1/2 cup)
  • 1 cup white sugar

Group 4:

  • 6 cups all-purpose flour, or as needed

Group 5:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon water

NOTE: You can also sprinkle sesame seeds and poppy seeds on top. I don’t.

Directions

  1. Mix the yeast, 1/3 cup of sugar, and warm water together in a large bowl, stir to dissolve the sugar, and let the mixture stand until a creamy layer forms on top, about 5 minutes. Stir in 3 cups of flour to make a loose sponge. Let the sponge rise for 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, beat 4 eggs, 1/2 cup of vegetable oil, 1 tablespoon of salt, ¼ cup of honey, and 1 cup of sugar together. Then, stir the egg mixture into the yeast-flour mixture until well combined. Continue mixing in flour, 1 cup at a time, up to 9 total cups. I do 6. Dough should be slightly sticky, but not so wet that it leaves dough stuck to your hands.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and knead for 5 minutes to develop gluten. Form the dough into a compact round shape, and place in an oiled bowl. Turn the dough over several times in the bowl to oil the surface of the dough, cover the bowl with a cloth, and let rise in a warm area until doubled in size, about 2 hours. Punch down the dough and knead for another 5 minutes, until smooth and elastic.

Say the Bracha:

When the dough is ready to be shaped into loaves, say the following blessing: Baruch Ata A-Do-Nay Elo-haynu Melech HaOlam Asher Kidishanu B’Mitzvotav V’Tziyvanu L’Hafrish Challah. (Blessed are You, Lord our G-d, King of the Universe, Who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to separate Challah).

Immediately after saying the blessing, pinch off a piece of dough, approximately the size of an olive or one ounce, and say: harai zeh challah (this is challah).

Then wrap the separated piece of dough in foil and burn it in the oven. The separated piece of challah should be burned so that it is no longer usable.

Let’s Braid & Bake!

  1. Grease baking sheets, or line with parchment paper. (I prefer parchment paper.) Cut the dough into 4 pieces for 4 loaves. If you are going to freeze the dough, do so now.
  2. Now, braiding. A lot of people are intimidated by this step but after you do it a few times, it’s very easy. I think the 4 strand loaf is the easiest to braid for beginners. I recommend Googling Tori Avey for this. She has some really good graphics on her site that show how to braid the 3/4/6 strand loaves, round loaves, and dinner rolls. I make 4 and 6 strand loaves for Shabbat.

For 3 strand loaves: Cut each piece into 3 smaller pieces for a 3-strand braided loaf. Working on a floured surface, roll the small dough pieces into ropes about the thickness of your thumb and about 12 inches long. Ropes should be fatter in the middle and thinner at the ends. Pinch 3 ropes together at the top and braid them. Starting with the strand to the right, move it to the left over the middle strand (that strand becomes the new middle strand.) Take the strand farthest to the left, and move it over the new middle strand. Continue braiding, alternating sides each time, until the loaf is braided, and pinch the ends together and fold them underneath for a neat look. I usually do 4 and 6 strand challah.

For 4 strand loaves: Cut each piece into 4 smaller pieces for a 4-strand braided loaf. Working on a floured surface, roll the small dough pieces into ropes about the thickness of your thumb and about 12 inches long. Ropes should be fatter in the middle and thinner at the ends. Pinch 4 ropes together at the top and braid them. Remember: OVER, UNDER, OVER. Starting with the strand to the right, move it to the left over the strand next to it, under the next one, and over the last one. Continue braiding, starting with the strand all the way to the right each time, until the loaf is braided, and pinch the ends together and fold them underneath for a neat look.

For 6 strand loaves: Cut each piece into 6 smaller pieces for a 6-strand braided loaf. Working on a floured surface, roll the small dough pieces into ropes about the thickness of your thumb and about 12 inches long. Ropes should be fatter in the middle and thinner at the ends. Pinch 6 ropes together at the top and braid them. Remember: OVER, UNDER, OVER. Starting with the strand to the right, move it to the left over the two strands next to it, under the next one, and over the last two. Continue braiding, starting with the strand all the way to the right each time, until the loaf is braided, and pinch the ends together and fold them underneath for a neat look.

Place the loaves onto the prepared baking sheets, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 2 hours.

  1. Make egg glaze. Whisk together 1 egg, 1 teaspoon oil, 2 teaspoons sugar, and 1 teaspoon of water in a small bowl, and refrigerate until needed. Brush a coating of egg glaze onto the tops of the bread, and reserve the remaining glaze.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  3. Bake the bread in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, remove from the oven, and brush another coating of glaze onto the bread. Return to the oven, and bake until the tops are shiny and golden brown, 5 more minutes. The bread is done when if you press down on the dough with your finger and make an indent, the indent pops back up. Watch so that the bottom of the loaf doesn’t burn. Let cool before cutting.

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