Challah {bread}! It’s our first post!

30 Mar

 Happy Easter!

Welcome to our inaugural post to Pretty Little Dishes!  After years of swapping recipes, an inspiring article by the SLR lounge on the folks over at Pinch of Yum, my sister, Kristen, and I (Gina) have been trying to figure out a way to harness our cooking and photography passions, so here we are!  Sometimes our adventures in cooking are homeruns, sometimes they look more like the aftermath of a hurricane, but we’re going to share our perspectives & results here.  Feel free to click the images to pin and share!  The more the merrier!

Our first weekly post was inspired by this image, so if you’re in a pinch for what to bring to your Easter gathering, this bread will surely be enjoyed.

Now, I’ve been making bread for years…I started making it in the morning before work, letting it rise, then baking it during lunch…and this recipe is my favorite.  Once I shared it with Kristen, it became a hit at her house too.  So, in honor of the Easter holiday, we thought we’d whip up our fave bread recipe, and see if we could work it in to the Easter theme.  Here’s how it went…

 Challah Bread

Original recipe from The Knead for Bread

Pretty Little Dishes - Challah Bread

{Kristen’s take}

After making this bread, I no longer buy bread at the local stores, I make this instead! Challah bread takes about 4 hours to make, but it makes a large amount that you can easily cut the loaf in half freezing one half for the next week. This bread is great with sandwiches and goes especially well with French toast!

The step-by-step directions from The Knead for Bread, with photos, are wonderful with no missing steps or ingredients. Some changes I did make, however, are using the same amount of sugar in place of the honey and poppy seeds in the place of the sesame seeds. Also note that the more egg whites applied to the bread pre-baking, the browner/harder the crust will become while baking. Cooking times were also long, so I only bake the bread for 20 minutes at 400 degrees and it comes out perfect every time!

{Gina’s take}

I make some minor tweaks too – for the honey, I’ll use one of my favorites on hand, which is typically Orange Blossom, Wililaiki Blossom, or Blueberry Honey.  Bread flour – I love the King Arthur brand.  I also incorporate 1 – 2Tbsp of flaxseed meal, a ½-1 teaspoon of diastatic malt, and substitute 1 cup of whole wheat bread flour for the white flour.  I also activate the yeast out of the gate rather than when mixed with the flour – so I combine the warm water, honey, and yeast together and stir, dissolving the honey and incorporating the three ingredients together.  For the egg wash – 2 egg whites is a lot.  I usually only use one (and save the other egg white for breakfast), but I only use about a ¼ of the whipped egg for the wash.  For the seeds, poppy or black sesame seeds are my hubby’s favorite.  I also only bake the bread for 20 minutes at 400F.

Now, if you’re going to get creative and go sans-braid (see image below), you’ll need to bake it a bit longer – up to 15 extra minutes since a dough ball – or a dough bunny (inspired by our old pet) in this case, offers less surface area, so the bread needs more time to cook.

{Pretty Little Sisterly Tip}

Diastatic malt helps promote a strong rise in the yeast and gives a great spring to the baked bread.

Challah Bread Easter Bunny

Here is the recipe from ‘The Knead for Bread’ incorporating Gina’s modifications…

5.0 from 1 reviews
Challah Bread
Cuisine: Bread
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 20-25 slices
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 1½ teaspoon instant yeast
  • 3 Tbsp honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3½ cups white bread flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat bread flour
  • 1 - 2 Tbsp flaxseed meal
  • 1 tsp diastatic malt powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Poppy or Black sesame seeds (optional)
  • Egg wash: 1 Egg white (use leftover from egg yolks)
  1. Measure out the lukewarm water and add the honey and yeast, stirring until the honey and yeast dissolve in to the water. Then, in a bowl, combine the whole eggs, egg yolks, and oil together. Whisk until all the liquid ingredients are combined.
  2. Pour mixture into a large bowl. Add in about two cups of the bread flour, diastatic malt powder, flaxseed meal, and salt. Beat together till smooth and very well mixed.
  3. Allow to rest for 15 minutes uncovered.
  4. After 15 minutes have passed, switch out the beater attachment with a dough hook and add the rest of the white and whole wheat flours, half a cup at a time. Blend for about 3 - 5 minutes, or until the flours are incorporated and the dough is sticky but not so sticky that it’s sticking to the bowl. If the dough is too sticky, add ~ 1 Tbsp of flour at a time, but it’s better to have the dough slightly sticky than too dry.
  5. After the dough has been kneaded place into a bowl greased with vegetable oil and turn dough over to lightly coat all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise till double in bulk. This will take an hour to an hour and a half, depending on the ambient room temperature (if your house is cold, it will take longer). After dough has risen, divide the dough into 3 equal parts (I use a scale – typically about 13 oz each).
  6. Roll out each piece of dough into a 15 inch rope. Now, connect the three pieces of dough at one end and braid.
  7. Once the dough has been braided pinch the ends and tuck them under the braid to make a clean braid. Place the braid onto a parchment lined cookie sheet.
  8. Take one of the leftover egg whites and beat (or whisk) the egg white until foamy in texture.
  9. Using a pastry brush and use the foam only, brush the Challah dough very lightly – the egg white foam acts as a glue for your seeds & forms the crust. If you are adding seeds, sprinkle the seeds on to the dough. Save the leftover foam in the fridge. Loosely cover the braid with plastic wrap and allow to rise until the dough doubles in bulk, about an hour to an hour and a half.
  10. After the dough has risen, remove plastic wrap. If you want more seeds, repeat the egg foam & brushing process again, adding more seeds. Place into a preheated 400 F degree oven for 20 minutes on the lowest until the loaf is browned. Cool on a wire rack.


One Response to “Challah {bread}! It’s our first post!”

  1. Virginia Mabry December 9, 2013 at 11:03 pm #

    I enjoyed making this bread! I have never made loaves of bread before trying this recipe. I used this to make my french toast casserole. I cannot wait to make it again!

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