In Jewish culture, the braided challah bread is ensconced in tradition. On special occasions, a blessing is said over the loaves before they are served, and they’re often topped with white napkins or intricately decorated challah covers as the challah represents the manna that was served to the children of Israel during their exodus from Egypt. Poppy and sesame seeds sprinkled on the bread symbolize the manna that fell on them from heaven. Today challah is a popular choice for people of all faiths. Its soft texture, delicate chew, and rich flavor make it a bakery staple as well as a home baker’s go-to. Modern challah recipes use fewer eggs than earlier versions, and many replace white flour with whole wheat or oat flour, which helps keep the dough from being tough and chewy. The tricky part comes when the dough is rolled out for braiding. But worry not: you have options. Many people opt for a simple three-strand braid, but for our version of this recipe, we get a little fancier with four strands. Some recipes call for an intricate six-strand braid, so you have something to work up to. To make the baked braided bread glow with golden color, we recommend brushing it not once but twice with an egg wash. If you want a richer flavor, you can substitute butter for the prescribed oil in the dough. That’s the only substitution we recommend though—the dough can be a little finicky. And make sure to bake up extra; leftover challah makes an unbeatable base for bread pudding or French toast.
Mentioned in this post: