This bread, and how easy it is to make, is too good to be true.

And it earned me major points with my challah-loving husband.

Bread karma has been on my side recently because for a first-ever attempt at making dinner rolls, I could not have been more pleased with the results and the recipe will likely be my go-to dinner roll recipe for years to come.

The lucky streak continued because this challah is the first challah I’ve ever made and was positively blown away with the results and so was my Jewish husband. Not only did he tell me that it’s the best challah he’s ever had, and this is coming from a man who’s family owned a Jewish deli in Chicago, but of all the bread recipes I’ve made recently, he told me the challah is his favorite bread to date, even trumping the dinner rolls. Not bad for a shiksa.

I made the challah using the challah recipe found in the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking cookbook. The concept of the book is quite remarkable in that the authors set out to create bread recipes and a bread-making method that enables one to enjoy freshly bread daily, with just five minutes of active preparation. They wanted to make bread-making accessible and do-able, without any of the hassle, trouble, or labor-intensive challenges that are the common impediments to bread-baking at home.

The overall concept is to make a large batch of dough that can be kept in the refrigerator for up to one week and when you’re ready for fresh bread, simply take a hunk of dough, shape it into a loaf or braid it, allow it to rise for just over an hour at room temperature, then bake it.

The recipes are no-fuss and no-knead. Not having to knead dough is a huge bonus, because even with a stand mixer, kneading takes time. And for the novice bread-maker, or for those who are hand-kneading, knowing if the dough has been properly kneaded or if you’ve needed long enough, can be challenging to determine and having recipes that are no-knead is very welcome.

Although the bread-making method is intriguing and is initially why I bought the book, no amount of shortcuts are worth it if the bread doesn’t taste great and I was really eager to put their recipes to the test. I had read the reviews on Amazon and had fairly high hopes for because people really rave about the book, but I didn’t know if they were raving about the method and concept in general, which deserves raving; or if the actual recipes were really top-shelf and rave-worthy.

I cannot speak for other recipes yet because so far all I’ve made from the book has been the challah, but the book has earned it’s keep and is a five-star smashing success based on the challah recipe alone. Not only is the challah the best we’ve ever had, but I have learned so much about the authors’ methodology to bread-making; how yeast works on the moist doughs, why the dough doesn’t require kneading, and the various concepts and techniques advocated in the book.

It’s one of those life-changing books and although that sounds a bit dramatic, now that I can make fabulous tasting bread at home daily, with almost no effort, is indeed pretty life-changing.

Almost all recipes in the book can very easily be doubled or halved, and I  chose to halve the challah recipe. This produces dough for two loaves of challah, one that can be baked immediately and one that can be baked off within the next week, a perfect quantity for our family.

To make the challah, combine water, yeast, honey, oil, salt and flour in a mixer or large bowl. The authors give a choice of using butter or oil and I chose oil because oil-based challah is softer than butter-based. I used a combination of bread and all-purpose flour. The authors indicate in the opening section of the book that all-purpose flour is just fine for almost all of their recipes, but that bread flour may be substituted if a chewier texture is preferred. I love chewy bread and opted to use some bread flour in conjunction with all-purpose.

After all the ingredients are added to the bowl, mix until the dough just combines, shutting off the mixer or stopping hand-mixing before moving into actively kneading the dough. At this point the dough is pretty wet and sloppy, but it’s by design. Cover the bowl and allow the dough to rise until it’s doubled in size, about two hours.

At this point, you can either go onto the next step, which is rolling out or braiding the dough in preparation to be baked; or take the whole wad of dough and refrigerate it and bake it off within five days for egg-enriched doughs, and seven to ten days later for other dough. I used half of the dough and baked some challah immediately, and refrigerated the other half for challah I baked five days later.

For the bread I was baking immediately, I separated the dough into three pieces, rolled each piece into a long cylinder about a foot in length, and then braided it with a three-strand braid, just like braiding hair. There are some incredibly complex ways to bread challah, with six-stranded braids, flipping it over, twisting and turning it like oragami, but I kept things very basic for my first attempt. I braided it on a Silpat Non-Stick Baking Mat, which is nice because very little flour is needed for the work surface, and the less flour you add to bread dough, the softer and lighter the resulting bread is.

After it’s braided, the dough rises for forty minutes if using freshly made dough; or if using previously refrigerated dough, this second rise is for one hour and twenty minutes.

Immediately before baking, brush the dough lightly with eggwash. I used about half of one beaten egg for the eggwash and didn’t over-do it because I didn’t want the bread to either taste too egg-ey or turn too browned in the oven, both of which can happen with eggwash. The bread bakes up quickly, in about twenty minutes, so watch it carefully so it doesn’t burn.

I cannot speak highly enough about this bread. It’s light, soft, tender, and almost croissant-like in how delicate and fluffy it is. It has a butter-like quality, even though I didn’t use butter in the dough and chose to use oil instead. It doesn’t even need to be buttered to enjoy it and it has a light sweetness from the honey. It stayed fresh for days wrapped in plasticwarp and placed in a gallon-sized ziplock.

The loaf I baked five days later with refrigerated dough tasted exactly the same as the first; absolutely perfect. Although the authors suggest that refrigerated dough can take on an almost sourdough-like quality as the yeast ferments over time, I didn’t sense any changes to the taste of the bread from the dough that I baked immediately versus that which I waited to bake. This could be because it’s an egg-enriched dough and a sweeter dough compared to other doughs.

It really was too good to be true when I braided five day old refrigerated bread dough that I didn’t ever have to knead, let it rise for an hour and half, and baked it.

Pulling apart a braid never tasted so good.

Challah Bread
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This challah recipe comes from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking and is incredibly easy. I halved the full recipe and the recipe below makes two loaves of challah, one which can be baked after about 3 hours (first rise is two hours, second rise is 40 minutes). The other half of dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days and baked off when you're ready. This is truly make-ahead dough and there's no kneading. It's extremely easy, fuss-free bread making, and great for anyone who's new to bread-making or challah-making. The challah turns out light, fluffy, almost croissant-like, with just a hint of sweetness and my Jewish husband approves. This was my first ever loaf of challah and I will use this recipe for a lifetime. The other half of dough, if you don't want to make a second loaf of challah with it, can be formed into dinner rolls or filled to make cinnamon buns.
Serves: 2 loaves, about 10-inches each
  • scant 1 cup water, warmed to about 125F for Platinum yeast, about 105 to 115F for most other yeast (full batch calls for 1¾ cups water)
  • 2¼ teaspoons active dry yeast (one ¼-ounce packet, I use Red Star Platinum)
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¼ cup canola or vegetable oil, or ¼ cup butter (oil creates a softer loaf, butter creates a crustier crust; butter-based dough is firmer and possibly easier to work with than oil-based, but I have no trouble with oil-based and prefer softer challah and use canola oil)
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¾ tablespoon salt, or to taste (the full recipe is 1½ tablespoons salt, halved is ¾ tablespoon, not teaspoon, which I think is way too much; I used no salt with great results)
  • 3½ cups all-purpose flour (I used 2½ cups bread flour, and 1 cup all-purpose; the authors indicate that bread flour may be substituted if a chewier bread is preferred)
  • 1 large egg, for eggwash
  • sesame or poppy seeds for sprinkling, optional
  1. Making the Dough - Add the water to a glass measuring cup or microwave-safe bowl and warm the water to temperature, about 30 seconds on high power. Using a thermometer, check the temperature. If you don't have a thermometer, when inserting your finger, it should feel warm but not hot. Add the water to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Sprinkle the yeast over the water and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. Add 2 eggs, honey, oil (or butter), salt to taste, and mix on low speed for about 2 minutes, until well combined. Remove the paddle, put on the dough hook, and add 3 cups flour. With the mixer on low speed, allow hook to fold in the flour; it will take a minute or two. Sprinkle in the remaining ½ cup flour and allow it to become just incorporated; don't move into actively kneading the dough; just incorporate the flour and turn mixer off.
  3. Turn dough out into a lightly greased large mixing bowl (do not knead it), cover bowl with plasticwrap, and allow it to rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 2 hours. Punch dough down and either move on to the next step (baking it) or dough can be stored in refrigerator for up to 5 days before baking it later. If baking later, place all the dough into a large bowl or container with a lid, allowing the lid to remain slightly ajar so there is a tiny bit of airflow, and refrigerate dough until you are ready to move onto the next step, Baking Day.
  4. Baking Day - You can move onto this step immediately after the 2-hour rise, or after the dough has been refrigerated for day(s).
  5. Divide dough in half; set aside other for later or make two loaves now. If dough is sticky, use floured hands to work with it. Place dough on a Silpat Non-Stick Baking Mat , adding a bit flour if necessary, or place it onto a floured work surface. Divide dough into 3 equal portions. Roll each portion out into a 12-inch long cylinder. The dough is very springy and will want to recoil and shrink back but be patient and keep stretching it or rolling it, either with your hands, a rolling pin, or just stretching it out as best you can; previously refrigerated dough behaves better and has less of a mind of its own.
  6. After you have 3 long cylinders about 1-inch each in diameter, place them on the baking mat and baking tray where you plan to bake them. Pinch one end of all three together and start braiding down, just like you're braiding hair. After you've reached the end, gently pinch off and tuck the ends underneath the loaf, just making it neat. Cover dough with plastic wrap and allow it to rise in a warm place for 40 minutes if using fresh dough, or for 1 hour 20 minutes if using previously refrigerated dough (even though my dough was fresh, I allowed it to rise for closer to 1 hour rather than just 40 minutes on the baking tray, placed on top of the preheating oven). Preheat oven to 350F midway through this rise.
  7. Beat 1 egg and immediately prior to baking, brush eggwash all over loaf (I use about half of the egg as I don't want bread to get too 'eggy', just shiny). Sprinkle with optional sesame or poppy seeds (I use neither). Bake for 22 to 25 minutes, or until challah is a pale golden and set. Tthe internal temperature should be ~190F however I judge by color. Allow bread to cool before slicing or pulling apart and serving. I store bread wrapped in plasticwrap, then placed in a ziptop food storage bag or in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  8. With the other remaining half of unbaked dough, it can be refrigerated for up to 5 days and then should be used; or it can be frozen and then thawed, and used. This dough may be used for more challah; raisins may be added, or used in dinner rolls, cinnamon rolls; or get creative with it.
This recipe is a half-batch of the Challah recipe in Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking and makes two one-pound loaves. Make one now, make the other within 5 days for egg-enriched dough, storing the extra dough in the refrigerator until baking day. The full batch makes 4 loaves.

The instructions outlined here are how I interpreted and adapted the recipe, making it as streamlined as possible and makes the dough mixing extremely easy and fast.

The ingredients listed in the recipe are half of what is outlined in the recipe in the book. It's noted in almost all recipes within the book, "This recipe can easily be halved or doubled", and I chose to halve it.

I question their quantity of salt; I would think twice before adding that much salt to a sweet-ish bread; I used none. I used oil because I wanted a softer and less crusty bread; butter will create a firmer crust. I did, however, want chewier bread and used a combination of all-purpose and bread flour; the book calls for all-purpose in this recipe. However, in the opening chapter they give a nod to using bread flour in place of all-purpose if you prefer chewier bread.

Related Recipes:

Honey Dinner Rolls – Soft, light, fluffy, tender, moist and the dough has just enough chew to really sink my teeth into. They’re the absolute best dinner rolls I’ve ever had and were an ultimate hit with the family. I will make this recipe over and over, forever and I highly recommend these for Thanksgiving or any holiday gatherings

Cinnamon Raisin English Muffin Bread with Cinnamon Sugar Butter – If you’ve never made bread before, this is a goofproof, foolproof, no-knead recipe that’s perfect for the first-time bread maker. You’ll never have a need for storebought English muffins again, especially because this bread is spiked with cinnamon-sugar and raisins

Cinnamon Swirl Bread – As close to a cinnamon roll as a bread can get and still be called bread rather than dessert. Rich, sweet, and light. This bread is for the cinnamon lover’s and is abundantly flavored with cinnamon, which is used twice in the bread recipe, and again in the cinnamon-sugar butter I serve it with

Outback Steakhouse Wheat Bread {Copycat Recipe} – This recipe is based on my love of Outback’s bread and makes two small loaves of hearty, dense, wheat bread. The bread is ever-so-slightly sweetened and is infused with subtle hints of molasses, and a dead-ringer in the flavor department. Serve with honey butter for even more authenticity

Cinnamon Bun Pie – Best cinnamon rolls I’ve ever made (to date) and they’re ready from start to finish in less than 30 minutes because they use a shortcut. I’m working on yeast-based cinnamon rolls next

Baked Vanilla Donuts with Vanilla Glaze – No-yeast baked donuts that are as easy as making muffins and if you don’t have a donut pan, the batter can be baked as muffins

Have you tried any Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day recipes?

There are three books:

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking (2007), which is the one I bought

Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day: 100 New Recipes Featuring Whole Grains, Fruits, Vegetables, and Gluten-Free Ingredients (2009)

Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day (2011)

If you’ve tried any recipes that you love, I’d love to hear about them and your favorites.

Have you ever made challah?

If you’ve never made bread, or challah, there’s no reason to be intimidated because neither the bread-making nor the braiding is challenging and the bread is scrumptious.

Everyone says that challah makes the best French toast but I normally think of the bread used for French toast as the bread that’s a little past its prime and that you need to use up. This challah was so light, flaky, moist, tender and croissant-like that we had to restrain from inhaling the loaf in sitting. No need for butter, jam, honey, or anything and it was that good on it’s own. Maybe one day we’ll have extra for French toast.

113 comments on “Challah”

  1. I have always been so intimidated by challah bread recipes. They sounded so dang difficult to attempt. I think I mentioned before that my recipe yardstick with blogs is typically french toast and nearly all blogs I read say that challah makes the “best french toast ever.” I typically just use day old whatever I have laying around the house bread, though because I figured there is no way I have time to make such a difficult bread. I thoroughly read your recipe and this sounds absolutely doable. I love the way it looks when it comes out of the oven: so soft and doughy and chewy.

    And since your husband has something to compare it to, your bread must be stellar to earn such high praise from someone in the know! Looks delish. Can’t wait to give this one a go. Maybe for Christmas morning baked french toast! :-)

  2. It is awesome how you are really throwing yourself into bread making. This looks like another hit! I aldo very often omit or greatly decrease the salt in recipes as I just don’t have a taste for salt. Nice to know I’m not alone in wanting the actual flavor of the food to shine.

  3. So…I just sent my mom the Amazon link to this cookbook because I’ve GOT to have it. Fresh baked bread daily? I’m all about it…now, I just hope mine turns out as gorgeous as yours. Averie, this looks amazing!

  4. I MISS gluten when it comes to things like this. Doughy, chewy, bread… Ugh, give it to me! Yum.

  5. Geez, this looks and sounds fantastic–no-fuss bread recipes are such gems (and, like most gems, so hard to come by!). I know our school has a “Challah for Hunger” club in which they sell challah on Fridays to make money for charities…I wonder if they got a similar recipe since they’re making so many :)

  6. a huge huge huge congrats to you Averie because you NAILED the challah on your first try. I am beginning to think you were born in a bread bakery of some sorts because all of your yeasted bread recipes have been spot on and unworldly impressive! These recipes after another – you never cease to amaze me! And that is HIGH praise coming from your hubby. Look at how doughy this is! So chewy and soft and perfect. it honestly looks like it came from my corner bakery – which, by the way has the most unbelievable chocolate chip scones (just sayin!). This is such a beautiful bread and I need that cookbook. It sounds like the perfect solution for those of us frightened by how daunting bread making can seem! And the braid – perfection. Wow. I love your photos too – can’t wait to see them on FG!!! :)

  7. OMG yummmm challah! This looks so fluffy and pretty and yumlicious!

  8. You are on a roll with bread! :) I love the recipe and the bread looks so moist and delish! I can see making french toast with it!!! One more work day left and then I’m off for a week! You know I’ll be making bread! I”m going to give your Outback Bread a try probably on Saturday!! I may try the 5 day bread too! Make the dough Monday and serve it on Thanksgiving!!

  9. I love challah! I hope that you have some leftovers for french toast. That is the best!

  10. mmm i love challah! so buttery and light and almost sweet…i keep hearing great things about this artisan bread book. i will really have to find it somewhere.

  11. Am making this one…hopefully, tomorrow! Thank you for posting this and I’ll be asking for the book, too. :D

  12. This looks so good! I have never made my own bread, but I should!

  13. I need to try this. I love Challah bread!

  14. I just gazed at your photos for about five minutes before even reading anything…this is beautiful bread! So pully and swirly and chewy-looking! A few years ago I made Dorie Greenspan’s Challah recipe and I Loved it! So much, in fact, that I was afraid to try it again for fear that it had been a stroke of luck that I’d managed to pull it off. This recipe looks doable and fearLess. ;) And I like the refrigeration option!

  15. This challah is the most beautiful bread I have seen in a long time. Your lovely photos make me want to just pull off a hunk and savor each delicious bite. I just may tackle this one!

  16. Yikes – I am terrified of yeast, but you inspire me. Maybe dinner rolls first?

    • The english muffin bread I linked to in this post is totally goofproof – It’s a bit of a denser bread, it’s like English muffins rather than a ‘slice of bread’ but it’s super easy. But honestly the challah dough is super easy to make – the braiding is the only thing at all hard and it’s not hard! And the dinner rolls are easy, too, but you have to hand shape 12-14 rolls. Not a biggie though really!

  17. I’ve never have challa before but would really love to try it though I always felt intimidated with yeasted bakes. However this recipe and your challa makes me want to attempt it!

  18. You know how people get all mouthwatery after seeing a juicy steak or a chocolate and pb cake or something? I get that way with bread. Seriously. And this challah is definitely mouthwatering and perfect. Your braid is absolutely stunning and this bread looks so insanely fluffy and light. I have actually never tried challah bread but oy vey, I need to ASAP.

  19. The soft, tender crumb of that bread has me drooling! Your braiding skills are impeccable, too. It’s been far too long since I worked with yeast and now I’m craving it like nothing else.

  20. It’s fresh out of the oven! Thank you! And once again, it looks just like your pictures! You are making me look good! My DH says it reminds him of Hawaiian rolls. I think it’s that little bit of sweetness from the honey! Oh, I forgot to say I cheated. I put it all in the bread maker on the dough setting. But from the time it came out, I followed all your steps. Perfect! Thank you! I need to go tear off another piece!

    • I am so glad to hear you made it and that it’s a big success! I agree with your description about the Hawaiian Rolls! YES! I have actually seen recipes for Hawaiian bread lately and one thing they do is to use pineapple juice in the dough and I was actually going to try the challah dough by replacing all the water with pineapple juice but haven’t tried it yet.

      Glad to hear this method works in a bread maker – I don’t have one so I didn’t know but sounds like it does and thanks for the report on it all!

  21. Pingback: Red Star Platinum Yeast Gift Basket Giveaway

  22. Just too good. Making two more loaves this morning. Sent one of yesterday’s home with DDL. Company coming today. I know they will love it, too. Pinned!

  23. you are killin me girl with your bread. I love bread! why am I scare to make bread? so not only have I said you need your own cookbook – but now your own bakery!

  24. Challah is awesome – especially with cinnamon and raisins swirled into the mix :)

  25. Averie!!! I messed the recipe up! I got distracted and did the Challah after I doing the Tres Leches, and I used cake flour instead of bread flour and/or normal flour … I have to say it did not work!!! :( My daughter got a good laugh out of it … I am intent on trying it again – maybe tomorrow! I will keep you posted! :) … hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

    • Eeek – yes as moms we are often multi-tasking and have so many things going on in the kitchen at once, people talking to us, and not paying attention will do you in, every time! Yes, you HAVE TO use regular flour – cake flour is usually ONLY good for cakes, period. And definitely not bread! Yes, try again with the right kind of flours (bread or AP) and you’ll be fine :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.