for about 8 minutes by hand or with the dough hook on low to medium speed until the dough is smooth and elastic and no longer sticks to your hands or
the bowl. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and turn it over once to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place (75° to 80°F)
until doubled in volume, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Punch the dough down, knead briefly, and refrigerate covered until it has again nearly doubled in volume
(a three-quarter rise is sufficient), 4 to 12 hours. The dough is now ready to be shaped.
Three-Strand Braided Challah
Anyone who has braided hair or rope will have no trouble here. In fact, you can divide the dough into as many strands as you like and braid accordingly,
but this one is a simple 3-strand braid. Weigh and divide the dough equally into 3 pieces. On an unfloured work surface, roll
into balls and let rest, loosely covered with plastic wrap, for 10 minutes. Grease a baking sheet and sprinkle it with cornmeal. Roll each ball into a 13-
to 14-inch-long rope, about 1 1/2 inches thick and slightly tapered at the ends. Dust the 3 dough ropes with rye flour so they will be more distinctly
separated. Place the 3 dough ropes side by side and pinch the top ends together. Lift the left dough rope and place it between the right and middle
ropes. Lift the right rope and place it between the left and middle ropes, then the left rope between the right and middle ropes and so on until you
reach the ends. Tuck both ends of the braid underneath the loaf and set it on the baking sheet. Whisk together and brush over the top of the loaf:
cover the braid with lightly oiled plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place
until not quite doubled, about 45 minutes.
the oven to 375°F. Brush the loaf again with egg wash. If desired, sprinkle
until the crust is golden brown and the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when
tapped, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool completely on a rack.
tablespoon poppy or sesame seeds
Four-Strand Braided Challah
and divide the dough equally into 4 pieces. On an unfloured work surface, roll into balls and let rise, loosely covered with plastic wrap, for 10 minutes.
Roll the balls of dough into long ropes about 1 inch thick and 20 inches long, slightly tapering the ends. Dust the ropes of dough with rye flour so they
will be distinctly separated. Arrange the 4 ropes side by side and pinch the top ends securely together.
- Braid the strips of dough in the following sequence, as shown above: Lift and place
the fourth strand over the second, B. Lift and place the first strand over the third, C, then lift and place the second over the third, D. Repeat this
sequence, placing the strand that is now the fourth over the second, E, the first over the third, F, then the second over the third. Continue braiding
until you reach the end of the strands. Pinch the bottom ends together and tuck both top and bottom ends underneath the braid. Finish as directed for
- There is a commandment to "separate challah." The separated challah is
symbolic of the portion which the Israelites gave the High Priests during
the time of the Temple.
- Before shaping the dough, pinch off a
piece of dough, the size of an olive, and burn it.
- Recite the following blessing: "Blessed art Thou O Lord our G-d, King of
the Universe, who hath sanctified us by His Commandment, and hath commanded us to
- Separating the challah and reciting
the blessing is a way to spiritually elevate the act of baking and to
acknowledge that physical sustenance is a gift from God.