Impress your friends and family by baking this (surprisingly easy) Braided Challah Bread
Spring is in the air (yay!) and so is the pollen (booooo!) here in the desert southwest – so I choose to stay safely inside and celebrate spring by baking beautiful Braided Challah Bread, instead of sneezing my head off outdoors. This is a loaf I’ve been wanting to try for a long time! It’s made from a very simple egg dough, but surprisingly there are a lot of variations on this recipe. I’ll be adding one more variation to the internet today, but I think it’s one any home baker will find surprisingly easy and relatively fast from start to finish!
I ALWAYS use Rapid Rise yeast when I bake bread. Why? Because I don’t have a million hours to wait around for bread to rise. Who has that kind of time anymore??? A real travesty is that most home baker’s (and food bloggers too!) don’t know how to properly use this wonderful baking tool; they treat it like regular yeast. So sad!! Rapid Rise yeast is specially treated to thrive in hot liquids, so it’s essential that you use a food thermometer so you know when your liquids have been heated to the optimal temperature.
Rapid Rise yeast is simply added strait into your flour. No proofing needed. Also, no first rise needed; instead a quick 10 minute rest in a covered bowl replaces the entire first rise of your bread. There’s an hour of your time right there that you can do lots of other productive things. Sheesh! Rapid rise yeast will have your dough doubled in size within about 20-30 minutes, then it’s ready to bake!
This recipe requires room temperature eggs. But you just pulled your eggs out of the fridge and they’re pretty cold, so what to do? Simply place them in a bowl of hot water for about 10 minutes while you assemble the rest of your ingredients. Changing the water out half way through for more hot water will warm them even faster.
Braided Challah Bread dough has a lot of egg in it (which makes it deliciously moist and rich), it is also a very sticky/loose dough. After kneading it for 5 minutes, I knead in a few more spoonfuls of flour to release it from sticking to the sides of the bowl and make it a little easier to handle.
Once you’ve let it rest for 10 minutes, spray the sides of the bowl and the top of the dough with non-stick cooking spray. Tipping the bowl on its side, pull the dough away from the bottom and spray the bottom of the bowl and the dough with spray also. Roll the dough around to ensure it is completely covered. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in a very warm oven to rise. Traditionally, challah bread has three(!) raises before finally being baked. We only need two with my streamlined recipe, and both go quickly thanks to rapid rise yeast!
After the first rise, empty the dough out onto a clean work surface. Divide into 5 equal dough balls. If you can do a three-strand braid, a five-strand braid is no problemo! At all! Seriously. I have included instructions in the recipe for creating the five-strand braid for this loaf (seriously it is soooo easy, ya gotta trust me on this). AFTER braiding, brush with an egg wash/water mixture to get that ‘challah’ golden brown color on top.
Feeling adventurous?? Smoosh the ends of your braided loaf together to form a wreath- so pretty! Tie a ribbon around the section with the ends to discreetly cover, and give the baked loaf as a gift! (Totally optional btw.) I completely BURNT this lovely wreath or I would have included pictures of it when it was finished. I was trying to multitask a bit too much that day….
Oh! Look at that amazing color! That crunchy crust hiding the rich and fluffy bread below- this is baking at it’s finest folks. Braided Challah Bread is a recipe all home bakers should master.
This amazing Braided Challah bread will become a true favorite, and makes a lovely addition to any special meal. Enjoy, and as always I love to hear your feedback and please rate the recipe :0)Print