A Bread Machine Challah That Makes a Grand Entrance

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Sneak Peek: 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 reactions you get when you bring this bread to the table.

sliced Challah with softened butterPin

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Challah is said to hold rich symbolism regarding the daily manna God provided for the Israelites in the desert for years. I don’t really enjoy eating the same food for three days in a row (unless it’s ice cream), much less for 40 years as the Israelites did. Oh my!

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

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

You don’t pronounce the “ch” like 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.

Happy Bakers Speak Up

“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.”KAREN

Recipe Inspiration

This bread is quite special because it’s full of eggs – it uses three! I also made a small change by using honey instead of sugar. This makes the bread not too sweet and helps it stay really soft and moist.

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

Ingredients and Substitutions

all the ingredients needed to make this recipePin

  • WATER: I keep a gallon of spring water in the house 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 large-size eggs. If you use extra-large eggs, cut back on the liquid. If you use medium eggs, increase the liquid slightly.
  • 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 I 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 bread flour’s texture and rise better.
    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.
  • 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.
  • VEGETABLE OIL: My favorite vegetable oil for this bread is avocado, but corn or canola oil is also good.

    You may notice the instructions tell you to add the oil a minute or so after starting 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.

Whether you make a 3-braid loaf or a 4-braid loaf is your choice. Either way, don’t get in a dither about the braid. You can always press the dough together, knead until smooth, and try again.

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

How To Make a 3-Strand Braid with Bread Dough

how to made a 3- braid ChallahPin

How To Shape a 4-Braid Challah

dough after it comes out of the bread machinePin
Remove dough from the bread-machine pan onto a floured surface. (I like to use a silicone mat.)
rectangular shaped doughPin
Roll into a rectangle approximately 14 x 9 inches.
cutting strips with a pizza cutterPin
Cut into four long strips with a knife or pizza cutter.
making cylinders of doughPin
Form ropes from each strip. Use your fingertips to pull the outer edges of each strip together and squeeze to seal. Flip over so the seam is on the bottom.
4 long strips of doughPin
Gently stretch ropes to make them uniform.
joining ropes of dough at the topPin
Pinch together at the top just firmly enough to hold while braiding.
continue the braidPin
Slip the first rope on the right over the next rope to the left and then under the next rope and over the rope furthest to the left.
4-braid technique demonstrated further.Pin
Go back to rope now on the far right and repeat the process. Pay particular attention to the middle loop. Make it equal in size to all the ones before it.
tucking under the endsPin
Pinch the ends together and tuck them under.
finished braid before the second risePin
Go back to the top and tuck those ends under, also.

If you find this hard to follow, I made a video for you. If you’re still confused, search YouTube for a video that speaks to you. There are several ways to accomplish this task, but this method worked for me.


How To Assemble a Challah Recipe with a Bread Machine

ingredients in bread maker panPin
Add all ingredients except the oil to your bread machine pan.
pouring oil into the machine after starting the DOUGH cycle.Pin
Start the DOUGH cycle. Add oil after one minute.
dough in machinePin
After 10-15 minutes, the dough should stick to the side and pull away.
adding flour to wet doughPin
If the dough is too sticky to pull away cleanly, add flour one tablespoon at a time.
dough is perfectly hydrated at this pointPin
This dough is perfect.
pulling dough out of the bread machinePin
Remove it onto a floured surface when the DOUGH cycle ends, and the dough doubles in size.
light kneading by handPin
Knead a couple of times and shape the dough into a ball.
shaping into a circlePin
Use your fingers to push the dough into a flat circle shape, gently squishing the bubbles.
dough resting under a tea towelPin
Cover and let the dough relax for 10 minutes.
braided dough before the risePin
Braid the dough according to the three or 4-braid method shown above.
glazing the loaf after second risePin
Set aside and cover. Let rise until almost double. Glaze and bake in a preheated oven.
4-Braid baked Challah on a cooling rackPin
Allow the Challah to cool on a wire rack. Don’t slice for at least an hour.

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 its 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 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?

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 breadmakers can tell by the hollow sound heard when tapping the bottom of the loaf. (I’ve been making bread for over 40 years, and I 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 baked?

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

How do I slice warm Challah without squashing it?

Wait at least 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 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 it securely with foil. Keeps for about a month.

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

Yes. Make the dough in your bread machine. Remove it at the end of the DOUGH cycle and shape it. 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 it in a preheated oven.

Why does my braid pull apart in the middle when it bakes?

This happens more often with the three-strand braid. If it bothers you, make the four-strand brand. Compare the pictures above.

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Parting thoughts: I love to braid bread. After a little practice, it’s pretty easy, and it makes a grand entrance. If you feel the same way, check out the recipe for this Cardamom Bread and my Banana Whole-Wheat Bread Machine Bread.

Recipe Help at Your Fingertips: For questions or suggestions, email Paula at saladinajar.com. If you need help, I’m happy to troubleshoot via email (faster than leaving a comment). Attach pictures and as many details as possible for the best advice.

sliced bread machine challahPin
Yield: 14 slices

Bread-Machine Challah Recipe (Dairy-Free)

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.
5 from 56 votes
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Video

Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
Rising Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Total time: 3 hours 25 minutes

Ingredients
 

Dough

  • ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons (75 g) water
  • 3 large (150 g) eggs
  • tablespoons (52 g) honey
  • teaspoon table salt
  • ¼ cup (50 g) vegetable oil
  • 3 cups (360 g) bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons bread-machine or instant yeast

Egg Wash Glaze

  • 1 (18 g) egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • pinch table salt

Instructions

Mixing the dough:

  • Add ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons (75 g) water to the bread machine.
  • Add remaining ingredients: 3 large (150 g) eggs, 2½ tablespoons (52 g) honey, 1¼ teaspoon table salt, ¼ cup (50 g) vegetable oil, 3 cups (360 g) bread flour, 2 teaspoons bread-machine or instant yeast in the order given using the lesser amount of flour.
  • Select the DOUGH cycle and start.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Shaping the dough:

  • 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.)
  • 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.
  • Cover formed Challah with a tea towel and allow to rise until almost doubled. Preheat oven to 350˚F (180˚C) for about 20 minutes before the bread is ready to bake.
  • 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 or until the interior temperature reaches 190˚F (88˚C). Cover after 10-15 minutes, if necessary, to prevent the loaf from over-browning.
  • Move loaf from cookie sheet to rack and allow to cool for 1 hour before slicing.

Egg wash:

  • With a whisk or fork, combine 1 (18 g) egg yolk, 1 tablespoon water, and a pinch table 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

Serving: 1slice | Calories: 166kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 49mg | Sodium: 224mg | Potassium: 60mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 70IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 12mg | Iron: 1mg

All images and text ©️ Paula Rhodes for Salad in a Jar.com

5-Star Ratings Are My Favorite!Help others find this recipe in search results on the web.

I modified this Challah recipe from the book More Bread Machine Magic (paid link) by Linda Rehberg and Lois Conway.

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4.58 from 56 votes (54 ratings without comment)

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43 Comments

  1. I have made this recipe many many times now, and EVERY time it comes out gorgeous and delicious. Have also had many requests from coworkers placing orders for me to make for them… free of charge of course. I have made this on a baking sheet and also in a loaf pan… and it comes out exactly the same either way. Thank you so much for your delicious recipes. They are a winner in my book

    1. Hi Lisa,

      I love hearing this. Thank you for taking the time to write such an encouraging comment. Your coworkers have it made!

  2. If I double the recipe and make it as one, larger loaf, how much should I increase oven temp/bake time?

    1. Hi Heather,

      So nice to hear from you.

      I can’t recommend doubling that recipe if you are mixing it in a bread machine unless you have a 3 lb. machine. (Few people have that machine.) I have never made a Challah that big, so I can’t tell you from experience the bake time. Bake it at the same oven temp, but of course, it would have to bake longer. Use your digital quick-read thermometer to check it. That really is the best way to get any loaf right and perfectly done in the middle. Here is a post I wrote about doubling recipes in a bread machine. Is it a Good Idea ToDouble
      a Bread Machine Recipe?

      If it were me, I would make two loaves. Use the dough cycle to make a batch of dough. Remove the dough from your machine as soon as the kneading phase is finished, and start another batch of dough. If you work it right, you should be able to bake both loaves in the oven at once if your oven is big enough.

      Write back if you have any questions.

  3. 4 stars
    the bread turned out beautiful looking. however, I think there was too many eggs and not enough honey. it smelled very eggy.

    1. Hi Cathy,

      I’m glad your bread looked beautiful. Looks are important when it comes to food.

      You can always change the recipe if it’s too eggy for you. Of course, Challah is an egg bread, so that’s one of its hallmarks. If you use fewer eggs, you will need to adjust the moisture. Same if you use more honey. See this post for how to adjust the moisture on the fly: A Surprising Secret for Making Better Bread with a Bread Machine.

  4. How long does the dough typically take to rise after 15 minutes of kneading in the bread machine?


    1. Hi Patrice,

      It usually takes about 1 hour. The dough is usually doubled at the end of the DOUGH cycle, UNLESS, your kitchen is really cool or drafty. The best temperature to proof bread dough is between 75 and 78˚F. If your bread machine won’t hold that temperature, you might want to move the machine to a warmer place, or at least, throw a quilt over the machine. Or, put the bread machine pan in your microwave along with a mug of hot water. It makes the perfect incubator for bread dough.

      Remember: The longer your dough takes to double in size, the better the flavor of your finished product. Don’t try to rush it unless you’re under a time crunch.

  5. Thank you for adding your method of mixing. I think homemade bread bakers love to tinker with recipes.

  6. I have made this many times, and it has always turned out great! When I was in Scotland, we worked out that two hen eggs and a duck egg worked best. Here in England I can’t so easily get duck eggs so I generally add an extra yolk. For a while I was doing one more strand each week. But 15 was pretty tough and that is where I stopped!

    1. Way to figure it out! Good job.

  7. Hi Paula! Thank you so much for this recipe!
    This is probably a silly question, but can I bake it in the machine? The braid is beautiful but I’m lazy.. So just the flavor would suffice. If yes, what size would this make, and also, what cycle would be best for this recipe?
    Thanks!

    1. Hi Julia,

      Yes, you can bake it in your machine. The crust will taste more like cardboard and you won’t get the beautiful texture and appearance. However, if you toast the bread or use it in something like bread pudding, you can probably get away with it. This recipe makes a 1-½ pound loaf. I’m guessing you should use the regular cycle with either a light or medium crust. I have not tested this recipe for “baking” in a bread machine, so I make no promises.

    2. @Paula, I understand. Thank you so much for the reply. Have a great weekend!

  8. Dominique says:

    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.

    1. 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.

      1. 5 stars
        Hi Paula,
        Haven’t posted in awhile……long story, but all good now.
        I’m going to make this recipe again but with the honey this time, and the sole purpose for this loaf is for egg nog french toast. I thought I would just put it in a loaf pan instead of a braid. I’m okay with a braid, but since I’m going to just slice it up instead of presenting the loaf, I thought it would be just as easy to bake in a loaf pan.
        my question to you is, will baking in a loaf pan screw up the texture of the finished loaf?
        All your comments are welcomed. Thanks for your reply.
        Merry Christmas

        1. Hello,

          A loaf will have the same texture but be sure to shape it, not just stuff in into a pan. Shape it like you would any loaf of bread.

  9. 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.

    1. Hi Karen,

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

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

    1. 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!

  11. Lisa Reskey says:

    It was wonderful!

    1. Thanks for coming back to say so, Lisa.

  12. Christine says:

    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!

    1. 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.

  13. Wonderful recipe, thanks for sharing. I had never made Challah bread before and it was just what I was looking for. I twisted 6 ropes and it looked lovely. My oven must run hot because at 35 minutes it was a bit overdone. I will definitely make again but reduce the cook time. 🙂

    1. Your oven might run hot or maybe you had it on a rack too close to the top of your oven. Either way, any time a bread recipe has quite a bit of sugar, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on it and be ready to lay some foil over the top of it when the crust is golden brown, often about halfway through the baking period.

  14. Thank you so much for this recipe! I made it for the first time last year and this year I have it away as gifts for friends and family for Christmas (I wrapped them in Sarah wrap and then used wrapping paper on the sides so that you could still see the bread and placed a ribbon and an ornament on the middle) and they all loved it! I love your blog, thank you for sharing. God bless you and may you have a wonderful new year!

  15. Hi! Your recipe says 3/8 cup of water……Is it 3/8 cup of water or 3/4? Thank you!

    1. Sue,
      It is correct as written. 3/8 cup. There are a lot of eggs so you don’t need so much liquid. As always with bread, check the dough after you start mixing. You may need to add a little more liquid or a little more flour to get the consistency just right.

  16. Hi there, I love your picture tutorial, SO helpful! I’m eager to try this recipe. However, I am wondering about the part where you mention to cover with w tea towel and let it rise……..do I put it in the steamy microwave like your other bread recipe (worked wonderfully, btw!) and also how long does it take to double, roughly? Thank you!

    1. Hi Ann,
      Yes, you can put your dough in a steamy microwave to rise. I always cover with a tea towel or a plastic shower cap. It’s hard to say on the time to double in size. Depends on many things but usually 30-45 minutes but can be more depending on the ambient temperature, the recipe, and the size of the pan. Happy Bread-eating.

  17. This is a wonderful bread, even though I failed miserably at the braid and had to switch to a two rope twist. : ) Your loaf is stunning, however, and I shall try to better approximate it next time. Thank you for sharing a delightful recipe, so rich with history and symbolism.

  18. Thank you so much for this recipe! My family loved it. I’m also thankful for the article you wrote about what the dough should look like, I had to add extra flour, until it meet the criteria of the pictures you posted on dough. The final result was amazing! God bless you, and have a happy new year!

  19. Looks so good! I can’t wait to try this one!

  20. Your Challah is so beautiful! A perfect braid, the shiny crust…I’m already planning when to make it. 🙂 I’ve never made it in a bread machine before, but I will soon!

  21. Thanks Paula! I can’t wait to try it!!!
    Lynn

  22. lol!!!! I can’t tell you how many items are in my refrigerator/cupboard because of your recommendations!!! And they’ve all *WORKED*!!! Win, win!!! Thank you for sharing: it’s time and patience in a time where patience is short!

  23. Hi Paula
    I am a bread machine lover, like you. I actually have two machines so that I can make my bread and pizza dough in larger batches. In any case, my family LOVES challah these days. What I do is make 4 loaves at a time and then freeze them. The night before I want fresh bread, I leave a frozen loaf out on the counter top so that it can defrost and have a second rise overnight. In the morning it is ready and I bake it as everyone is waking up. What a great smell and delicious breakfast to start the day with!
    The kids love fresh bread in their lunch boxes
    Thanks for your recipe ideas,
    Sophie

  24. Beautiful Challah! I love this bread, it makes the best French Toast. Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

  25. Paula, Thank_you_ for all the great recipes, hints and tips you give to your readers. I really mean that. This is a beautiful loaf, and I will bookmark this so that I can have it next time I have the urge to make challah. By the way, there is a youtube video on how to braid bread with as many ropes of dough as you like, if you are a visual learner like me.

    1. Thanks Becky, I will be checking out that video. Appreciate the tip.