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Author Notes: This is my very favorite challah recipe. It manages to accomplish most of its rising in the refrigerator overnight, making it an ideal candidate for baking during the week. - Bria
Food52 Review: This was super easy to make and I love that it proofs overnight in the fridge. It's really hands-off, which for a novice bread baker is great! It baked up beautifully -- nice and high with a shiny, bronze crust and yellow eggy interior. It's got enough heft for French toast and is also good on its own. - Emily - The Editors
Serves 2 large loaves
- 6-7 cups all-purpose flour
- 4.5 teaspoons active dry yeast (2 packages)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1.5 teaspoons salt
- 1 1/3 cups hot tap water
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 4 eggs at room temperature, plus one more at baking time
- Splash of milk
- Oil for the bowl
- Combine 2 cups of flour with the yeast, sugar, and salt in large bowl and stir well. Add softened butter and stir again. It will not look at all combined – just a hugely shaggy mess.
- Add the hot tap water and beat with the paddle attachment of an electric mixer at medium speed for 2 minutes until well mixed and elastic.
- Add the eggs and 1 ½ cups more flour. Beat on medium-high speed for 1 minute or until thick and elastic.
- If you are using a stand mixer, switch to a dough hook on low speed and gradually stir in enough of remaining flour with a to make a soft dough that leaves the sides of bowl. Alternatively, stir in the last bit of flour with a wooden spoon and turn the dough out onto a floured board.
- Knead 5 to 10 minutes, adding additional flour as needed, until it is smooth, elastic, and passes the windowpane test. Place the dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl, turning it over once to fully coat with oil. Cover with a tea towel and let raise for 20 minutes on the counter.
- After 20 minutes, divide the dough into two even pieces. Set one piece aside and cover with the dish towel. Gently roll the first piece into a fat log and divide again into as many pieces as you want to braid (I favor a traditional six-part braid, but three or four pieces also work well). Roll each small piece into a snake, aiming for equal length and thickness. Pinch the ends of the snakes together and braid until you reach the other ends. Tuck both ends securely under the loaf.
- Repeat with other half of the dough and set both loaves on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2-24 hours. When you are ready to bake, remove the loaves from the refrigerator and let them begin to come to room temperature while heating the oven to 365F.
- Beat an egg in a small dish with splash of milk and gently brush over the loaves. Bake for 35-40 minutes until the loaves are a rich golden brown and sound hollow when thumped on the bottom. Cool on racks and tear to serve (do not slice).
- Sandwich loaf alternative: replace half the flour with spelt flour. Press half of the dough into an 8x8 rectangle and roll into a thick log, pinching the seam when you are finished. Place seam-side down in a greased loaf pan, cover, and place in the refrigerator for 2-24 hours. Follow step 8 as written, taking care to turn the loaf from its pan promptly upon removing from the oven.
- This recipe is a Community Pick!
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best (Savory) Yeast Bread