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How To Make Challah with a Bread Machine (Dairy-Free)

Bread Machine Challah, a traditional Jewish bread, is easy to mix up and knead in a bread machine.

This particular version is dairy-free and sweetened with honey. Don’t be surprised by all the oohs and ahs you get when you bring this bread to the table.

If you don’t have a bread machine, see the directions in the recipe notes for using a large stand mixer or making by hand.

Challah is said to hold rich symbolism in regards to the daily manna God provided for the Israelites in the desert. I can’t help but be amazed by the way God continues to care for us as we traverse the “deserts” of life.

Have you ever wondered about the correct pronunciation of the name of this bread?

You don’t pronounce the “ch” in the same way you would say church. The way I understand it, the first sound should be more of a guttural “h.” You can listen to the correct (supposedly) pronunciation online.

Recipe Inspiration

This recipe is loosely adapted from the Bread-Machine Challah recipe in the wonderful paperback entitled More Bread Machine Magic by Linda Rehberg and Lois Conway.

A closer look at the recipe reveals that it’s quite eggy (this recipe calls for 3 eggs) and rich.

I recently tweaked the recipe and replaced the sugar with honey in an amount that wouldn’t be quite so sweet and lends additional moisture to the bread.

Let’s talk about the simple ingredients you will need.


Ingredients and Substitutions

all the ingredients needed to make this recipe

  • WATER: I keep a gallon of spring water in the house just for bread-making. Chlorine and yeast aren’t best friends. If you don’t have any spring water on hand, tap water will work. That’s what I used for years.
  • EGGS: Use the large size. Room temperature, please.
  • HONEY: Substitute sugar for honey if that’s what you have. My original recipe called for 1/4 cup of sugar. I recently changed it, and love how the honey makes this bread moister and not quite so sweet.
  • SALT: Use table salt or sea salt. If you prefer Kosher salt, add 1/4 teaspoon.
  • BREAD FLOUR: In the past, I used all-purpose unbleached flour in this recipe. It turned out fine, but I like the texture and the rise better with bread flour.
    If possible, weigh your flour. At the very least, don’t scoop the flour with your measuring cup. You’ll most likely end up adding too much.
  • BREAD MACHINE OR INSTANT YEAST: Instant or bread-machine yeast (same thing) is a fast-acting yeast. It will hit the floor running.
    You could substitute active dry yeast. It’s no longer necessary to dissolve it and wait, but you can if you want to. Because it’s slower on the uptake, I recommend you add 1/4 teaspoon extra yeast.
  • VEGETABLE OIL: My favorite vegetable oil for this bread is avocado oil, but corn or canola oil is also good. You may notice the instructions tell you to add the oil a minute or so after you have started your machine. I find this works better and makes a nicer texture. If you forget and add all the ingredients at once like normal, don’t fret. It will be fine. Proceed as usual.

FAQ about Bread-Maker Challah

How is Challah different from egg bread or brioche?

Challah is a parve loaf traditionally made without any dairy products. Use oil instead of butter. Both egg bread and Challah have lots of eggs.

Brioche is similar in that it has a soft, sweet, and fine texture, but it has LOTS of butter.

Can I make Challah if I don’t have a bread machine?

Yes. Use a stand mixer or mix and knead the dough by hand. (See the recipe notes for details.)

The advantage of a bread machine is that it automatically mixes and kneads the dough for the perfect amount of time. No more worries about under or over-kneading.

Can I make Challah in a different shape than a braid?

Yes. Make two ropes and twist them. Or simply form the bread into a ball or oblong. You could even fill a loaf pan and make a Challah loaf. It won’t be traditional, but the flavor and texture should still be fabulous.

What if I let my braided dough rise too long before putting it in the oven?

You really want to avoid this as the flavor will be overly yeasty and the texture will not be light and fluffy.

You could try re-kneading the bread for a minute, roll it out, and re-braid it. Let it rise again (watch it closely) and bake. No guarantees, but it’s worth a try.

How do I get the traditional golden shine on my Challah bread?

Don’t leave off the egg wash. It’s important to produce the gorgeous glaze characteristic of Challah.

How do you know when Challah is done?

The most reliable method is to use a quick-read thermometer. It should read 200˚- 205˚F when carefully poked into the middle of the bread.

Experienced bread makers can tell by the hollow sound heard when tapping the bottom of the loaf. (I’ve been making bread for over 40 years and still prefer to use a thermometer. It’s fail-proof.)

How do I keep Challah from getting too brown in the oven before it’s cooked through?

If you see it’s getting too brown, lay a sheet of foil over the top. Next time, try moving the baking rack a little lower in the oven.

How do I slice warm Challah without squashing it?

Wait a minimum of one hour while Challah cools on a rack before slicing. If you can’t resist, slice off only the smallest piece from one end (when nobody is watching–you don’t want to start a stampede).

When you do slice it, use a serrated knife that doesn’t rip the bread.

How long will Challah stay fresh?

Challah tends to stale quickly because it contains a lot of honey and fat although the eggs help keep it fresh. What you don’t eat after the first couple of days will make good French toast, bread pudding, or a breakfast casserole on succeeding days

Can I freeze this recipe?

Yes. Be sure to double wrap the baked bread. Use plastic wrap then place it in a plastic bag or wrap securely with foil. Keeps for about a month.

Can I make the dough ahead of time and bake the next day?

Yes. Make the dough in your bread machine. Remove it at the end of the DOUGH cycle and shape. Cover and refrigerate immediately.

Remove the shaped dough a couple of hours before you want to bake it and let it come to room temperature. When the dough is puffy, bake in a preheated oven.

3-Braid Challah with slices in the front
3-Strand Braid Challah

How to make a 3-strand braid with bread dough:

how to made a 3- braid Challah

How to shape a 4-braid Challah:

If you find this hard to follow, I made a movie for you to watch. If you’re still confused, go to YouTube and look for a video that speaks to you. There are several ways to accomplish this task — this method worked for me.

How to assemble Challah with a bread machine:

4-Braid baked Challah on a cooling rack
Allow the Challah to cool on a rack. Don’t slice for at least an hour.

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Did you try this recipe and enjoy it? Consider helping other readers (and me) by returning to this post. Leave a rating on the recipe card itself underneath the picture. Although always appreciated, comments aren’t required.

If you have a question or tip to share, please leave it in the regular comments after the recipe so I can answer back. Or, email me privately: paula at saladinajar.com.

Thank you for visiting!
Paula


sliced bread machine challah

Bread-Machine Challah (Dairy-Free)

Yield: 1 large loaf
Prep Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 10 minutes

Bread Machine Challah, a traditional Jewish bread, is a golden, eggy, tender, and only slightly-sweet yeast bread you can mix and knead in your bread machine. This is a dairy-free version.

Ingredients

Dough

  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (75 grams)water
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons (52 grams) honey
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon (7 grams) table salt
  • 3 cups (360 grams) bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons (7 grams) bread-machine or instant yeast
  • 4 tablespoons (56 grams) vegetable oil

Egg Wash Glaze

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • Pinch salt

Instructions

  1. Heat water until warm and add to bread machine.
  2. Add remaining ingredients in order given (except for the oil) using the lesser amount of flour.
  3. Select the DOUGH cycle and start. Drizzle oil into the pan after about 1 minute or when you don't see the yeast anymore.
  4. Check dough after it has been mixing for about 12-15 minutes. The dough should stick to the side and pull away cleanly. If dough is too sticky, add more flour 1 tablespoon at a time. (I usually end up adding 1 tablespoon of flour to this dough.) If too dry, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time. See this post about the most important thing you should do when using a bread machine.
  5. At the end of the DOUGH cycle or whenever dough has risen to double its original size (open the lid and check), remove dough to a floured surface.
  6. Roll into a rectangle 9 x 14 inches. Cut into three or four strips. Use fingers to pinch long sides of each strip so you now have 3 or 4 cylinder-shaped pieces of dough. (See picture above.)
  7. Loosely braid strips, tucking the strips on each end under the braid to make a neat loaf. Place onto a heavy cookie sheet covered with parchment paper or a silicone mat. You could also spray your cookie sheet with aerosol oil/flour like Baker's Joy.
  8. Cover formed Challah with a tea towel and allow to rise until almost doubled. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F about 20 minutes before the bread will be ready to bake.
  9. Brush the entire loaf with egg wash (see below) and place your oven rack in the lower middle of your oven. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Cover after 10-15 minutes, if necessary, to prevent the loaf from over-browning.
  10. Move loaf from cookie sheet to rack and allow to cool for 1 hour before slicing.

Egg wash

  1. With a whisk or fork, combine egg yolk, water, and salt in a small bowl.

Notes

Alternate Mixing Instructions:

Directions for making bread with a stand mixer or by hand: 

  • To make this recipe in a heavy-duty stand mixer, add ingredients to the bowl in the same order. Turn on low to mix until all ingredients are moistened. Using a dough hook, turn speed to 2 or 3 and continue beating/kneading until dough becomes smooth and elastic (about 5-10 minutes). Cover and allow to rise in a warm place. Deflate dough gently and shape as indicated in the recipe.
  • If making by hand, combine all ingredients into a shaggy ball in a large bowl. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead with your hands until dough becomes smooth and elastic, a process that will likely take 10-20 minutes depending on your experience. Place the dough ball into a greased bowl. Cover and allow to rise until double. Deflate dough gently and shape as indicated in the recipe.
  • Please note: You can substitute active dry yeast for instant or bread machine yeast. Add 1/4 teaspoon extra yeast when using the active dry yeast. According to King Arthur Flour, there is no longer any need to dissolve it. Be aware that it may be a little slower acting than instant yeast, but it'll get there.  https://www.kingarthurbaking.com/blog/2015/09/25/active-dry-yeast
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 16 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 161Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 46mgSodium: 155mgCarbohydrates: 24gFiber: 1gSugar: 3gProtein: 4g

Did you make this recipe?

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Dominique

Wednesday 1st of July 2020

The bread came out great I just have one qualm and that is “3/8 cups of water” I do not have a 1/8 cup I’m not sure that most people have a 1/8 cup. Use 1/3 of a cup of water +1 tablespoon gives you the right amount because trying to measure out 3/8 is stupid.

Paula

Thursday 2nd of July 2020

Hi Dominique, I like your system. Thanks for writing. Maybe that will help someone else who doesn't have a liquid measure that shows 1/8th increments. Glad your challah turned out good.

Karen

Friday 22nd of May 2020

I usually buy Challah and have it delivered with my shopping. It had never occurred to me that I could make it and certainly not using my bread machine. Now because of the Lockdowns the supermarket that delivers my shopping had limited me to ordering one type of bread, so I started looking online for Challah recipes, and this was the one I found with the most highly rated reviews, so I decided to try it. I was amazed first of all at how easy it was, and then at how good it looked and tasted. The first one I made came out perfectly and tasted amazing. I've since made more and added sesame and poppy seeds which were also great. Eating this Challah then reminded me I also love Brioche so my next mission is to make that too. I can't imagine having found this recipe though, that I'll ever actually buy Challah again.

Paula

Sunday 24th of May 2020

Hi Karen,

This is good news. Adding sesame and poppy seeds sound equally delicious. Thanks for writing.

Mollien

Wednesday 15th of April 2020

I started baking bread again because of the coronavirus lockdown. Some things are hard to find including bread machine yeast. Will regular yeast work?

Paula

Thursday 16th of April 2020

Yes. There is a note at the bottom of all my bread recipes (I think) that tells how to do this. In a nutshell, dissolve the same amount of active dry yeast (as specified in the recipe) in about 1/4 cup of the liquid specified in the recipe. First, warm the liquid until it is lukewarm like bath water for a baby. Stir the yeast into the liquid (usually milk or water) until it dissolves. Let it sit on the counter for about 10 minutes. Add to the pan along with the remaining ingredients specified in the recipe and proceed as usual.

Happy bread-eating!

Lisa Reskey

Friday 7th of February 2020

It was wonderful!

Paula

Tuesday 11th of February 2020

Thanks for coming back to say so, Lisa.

Christine

Wednesday 3rd of January 2018

Paula, we are trying to stay away from refined sugar and so I was wondering if I could sub honey or maple syrup for the sugar? And if so, would it be the same 1/4 cup? Thanks!

Paula

Thursday 4th of January 2018

Hi Christine, I can understand the sugar bit. However, I have never tried substituting honey. It would probably work but you might have to make some adjustment in the amount of flour or other liquid since the honey is liquid.