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Peter Reinhart’s Challah recipe from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice

I put Reinhart’s recipe in metric and made very minor adjustments to technique (basically the yeast prep).

Challah is so delicious and addictive. At my kids’ preschool, I learned to tear challah rather than cut it, and that it is acceptable for a kid to answer, “Both!” to the question, “Butter or cream cheese?”

I prefer butter, but plain and squished in your hand while driving is pretty awesome too.

Dry ingredients: Put in large bowl or stand mixer

  • 510g (4 cups) bread flour (all purpose works fine)
  • 7g (1 tsp) salt

Yeast-water-sugar preparation: Combine and let sit 10 minutes to ensure it froths nicely.

  • 225g (1 cup) water 105F/40C if possible
  • 28g (2 Tbsp) sugar dissolved in the water
  • 4g (1 1/3 tsp) dry yeast

Egg oil mixture: Whisk together

  • 28g (2 Tbsp) oil
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 2 egg yolks

Egg wash for pre- and post- proof: Set aside and whisk before using

  • 2 egg whites

Mix all the ingredients (except the egg whites wash) until you form a ball of dough. Either knead on a floured countertop for 10 minutes or in a stand mixer set to low-med for 6 minutes. (Window pane test)

Lightly oil a large bowl. Set dough inside and cover with plastic. Let rise for ~1 hour.

Remove from bowl and de-gas approx 2 minutes. Reform into a ball and return the dough to the bowl. Cover and let rise ~1 additional hour. The dough should grow to 1.5 times its original size.

Remove from bowl. Divide in three. Form into balls. Cover and rest for 10 minutes.

Roll the 3 balls into 3 long tubes.

Braid the tubes starting in the middle of the loaf. Do this by laying two of the tubes into an X shape. Put the third tube parallel to one of the strands of the X, but going under the opposite tube if the parallel partner is going over it…(sorry that is super confusing).

Line a pan or cookie sheet with parchment paper and place the braided dough on the parchment paper.

Brush the loaf with egg wash. Cover with plastic and let proof for 60-75 minutes. After proofing brush the loaf with the egg wash a second time. Decorate with sesame or poppy seeds if you want.

Bake in a preheated 350F/177C oven.

20 minutes, then rotate 180 degrees

20-30 additional minutes or until the internal temp is 190F/88C

Transfer to rack and let cool for 1 hour before slicing or tearing.

Below is a photo gallery of the process. The ball of dough in the green bowl that grows, happens twice, but is only pictured once. The first photo is of my messy morning kitchen.

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