Challah Bread — Pain Challah

Are you thinking, what the hell is that?

Ah yes, like many, I like bread. What would we do without it I wonder? About 4 years ago, in order to try to solve a health stomach discomfort I suffered from, I “tried” to follow a detox diet recommended to me by my doctor. Why did I even think it could work? Seriously, I was a good student and have full trust in my Russian doctor. The diet principle was easy: eliminate mostly every possible food, that is all the foods I enjoyed eating – including bread – and live on rice, vegetables, fruit, fish and well, nothing more. After following this diet strictly for 3 weeks, you were supposed to reintroduce each food, one by one, in order to possibly isolate the food causing the problem. I lasted on the diet for …about 3 days, if I am even generous. Only rice, rice crackers, vegetables ? No dairy, no wheat, what can I say? It was not meant for me. I was born la baguette sous le bras (wearing the baguette under my arm), so despite my love for rice and vegetables and fish, I just did not make it. Too hard for a girl like me, who enjoys food so much. In the end, I guess I was the stronger anyway since what really made me feel better was resuming my consumption of meat. And the redder, the better. But this is another story I will tell you one day.

So I stayed on bread as it is simply not possible for me to imagine morning breakfast without bread.

When I was a teenager, I just loved to make brioche, plain or with nuts, just like the very one Pascale from C’est moi qui l’ai fait describes here. For those of you who do not speak French, Pascale refers to the hazelnut brioche from a small village bakery in Lorraine, which she loved eating for breakfast while she was a kid (not the village, the bread…ahhhhh, can you tell that I am still struggling with English syntax at times? When people say that English is easy, My taylor is rich!) I should surely ask you the name of this bakery Pascale, since I am from Albestroff in Lorraine and know Seingbouse quite well . To the readers, no need to try, unless really necessary, to see on a map what kind of a big city Albestroff is since it is a tiny village of 600 people, that is counting the cows, goats, oui? ah, no, maybe not. Quand même!

Now of course, as all people who have made brioche know, brioche is not just your average quickly prepared filling a craving food. It requires time. So because I can have some of those cravings that need to be satisfied, and in place of the long process involved with my brioche, I have chosen to make a challah.

Challah is a traditional Jewish egg bread that makes me think of brioche. Perhaps less sweat sweet and less fatty, but still soft and sweet enough. It does take time to make challah, but this is mainly rising time, and certainly less than my brioche! I sometimes use my bread machine to mix the ingredients and do the first rise, or I do it manually. If I use the bread machine, once the dough has risen for about 1 hour first in the machine, I then shape it the way I like, before letting it is rise again for another hour. Then I bake it, (oven at 350 F for 30 mns).

Last night, when I suddenly had this challah urge, I just forgot to make a third piece for the braid, ah, so instead of a traditional 3-braided bread (I have always been more than average at braiding my hair anyway!), my challah had two. At that time of the day, I think I had a good excuse!

Challah Bread

You need:

  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp gluten
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 3/4 tsp yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • Poppy seeds
  • 1 yellow yolk with water for the glaze

If I decide to do the dough by hand, I proceed this way:

  • Take a small bowl and dissolve the yeast in it with a bit of warm water and honey. Let rest for a while, until it bubbles.
  • Then add the vegetable oil, salt, honey and eggs to it.
  • Continue with adding the flour, one cup at a time.
  • Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead until smooth , adding more flour if necessary.
  • Put into a bowl, cover, and let rise until it doubles (about 1 hour).
  • Punch down the dough and separate it into three long braids.
  • Braid the 3 pieces together, and place the bread on a baking tray.
  • Let it rise until it doubles (about 1 hour).
  • Mix the egg yolk with water for the glaze, and brush the bread with it.
  • Add the poppy seeds on top.
  • Bake the bread in a preheated oven at 350 F for 30 minutes, until the crust has a nice golden color.

Et voilà! Next time, I will present my brioche (yes, I admit, I still prefer the brioche feel under the tongue, melting like snow!)

Posted in Bread, Breakfast


  1. I’ve never made challah, but this sounds simple (and delicious) … I can’t wait until you bake and blog about your brioche.

  2. Je fais ma challah toutes les semaines depuis presque 10 ans, j’ai un blog concentré sur le pain mais je n’ai encore jamais pu publier ma recette qui est un peu faite au feeling! Ta challah est très réussie même avec 2 brins. Mais pourquoi ajouter du gluten???

  3. Speaking of challah bread, recently the “Honolulu Advertiser” had an article featuring french toast made from challah bread. Here it is:

    3 large eggs

    Pinch of fine salt

    1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

    3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

    5 to 6 slices fresh challah

    Confectioners’ sugar, maple syrup or jam, for serving

    In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, salt and vanilla.

    Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a 9-inch frying pan over a medium flame until melted. Working with 1 piece at a time, turn 2 challah slices in the egg so that it soaks the bread. Put both slices in the pan. Cook until lightly browned on one side, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn with a spatula and cook for another 2 minutes, or until browned on the second side. Serve up those 2 slices immediately and continue cooking, using 1 tablespoon butter for each batch, until you’ve used all the bread and egg. Serve sprinkled with confectioners’ sugar or with maple syrup or jam.

    Makes 2 servings.
    From: “The Food You Want to Eat” by Ted Allen (“Queer Eye for the Straight Guy”)

  4. Hi Tania,

    Thank you! Yes the brioche is coming..;-)

    Hi Lilizen,

    Go for it, it is easy and good! 😉

    Hi Melissa,

    Just finished a slice for breakfast 😉

    Bonjour Avital,

    Merci de ton commentaire. Ton blog est tres seduisant, plein de bonnes choses comme je les aime! Le gluten, tu as peut-etre raison, je l’ai ajoute car en suivant les differentes sources que j’ai sur la fabrication du pain, on en ajoute souvent. Je dois faire le test sans pour voir s’il y a une difference. Je serais curieuse de voir ta recette! 😉

    Hi Kat,

    That is an excellent idea. Thanks so much, I will definitely try that as P. loves French toast!!! Merci!!!

  5. I look forward to your recipe for brioche – I’ve been trying to muster the courage to make it for quite a while! By the way, you have a very lovely blog here – beautiful photos and wonderful writing. I’ll be back soon to see what you’re up to!

  6. Hi Rosa,

    Thanks for stopping by and the compliment! I am enjoying it too a lot.

    Hi Melissa,

    Thanks for stopping by and I am very happy to hear you enjoy my blog! Reciprocal of me towards yours! I am working on my brioche (funny pun here, “brioche” in French is also slang for to have a belly, so if I say I am working on my brioche, it means I am working at getting fat!!
    I will post the brioche (and not my belly!) soon!


  7. challah the swiss one which exactly similar and 3 braid is called zof
    my fave when am in Switzerland
    hot buttery oh heaven…

    anyway might as well try your recipe…you can see the texture of yr bread in the photo!!!

  8. what is gluten and when do you add in recipe? You included in ingredients but not in recipe. Looking for a recipe that’s similar to a brioche.

  9. Just discovered your wonderful blog and tried today this challah bread and the brioche. They were both delicious and I enjoyed making them; not only because the instructions were clear concise but it was a total delight to read the comments that came along with them!! Happy 2011