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Champion challah (fresh from the oven)

February 28, 2011

Home-made bread.  What a comforting, mellow feeling that short sentence provokes.  The warm, yeasty smell permeating the house, the pleasure of tearing off a hunk, dabbing on some butter which melts slightly, the enthusiasm with which it is eaten by family and friends.
Bread-making does, on the whole, live up to this little description…expect when it goes wrong.  And then it seems to go terribly wrong.  I should have kept a ‘dough that ended up in the bin’ photo album but I was too busy stamping around and wiping a tear away to wield a camera.

Brioche vs challah

Brioche didn’t quite fall into the kitchen disasters camp, but having dreamt of a rich, domed loaf which would look like it came from the best French boulangerie, the rather pathetic result which was only good for toast was disappointing.
Challah fulfilled all of my brioche-making fantasies but without any of the trickiness.  I urge you to make this simple loaf and bask in the satisfaction that comes with gazing at such a beautiful creation….before diving in with a pot of blackcurrant jam.


It’s better than any perfumed candle or room scent to bathe the whole house in a glorious aroma – this is good mood food.  Challah stales quite quickly but makes fabulous French toast or posh bread and butter pudding (with apricot jam).
I’ve tweaked Dom from Belleau Kitchen‘s recipe and method a tiny bit – he set this month’s Fresh From the Oven challenge.  But the only challenge about this beautiful loaf is not too eat it in one sitting.  You can see what the rest of the FFTO crew got up to shortly.


Braided Challah Bread – recipe adapted from Belleau Kitchen
download printable version
7g of dried active yeast or 15g fresh yeast (or 1 sachet easy blend dried yeast)
1 teaspoon clear honey
237ml (1/2 pint) lukewarm milk
50g melted butter
454g (16 oz) plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
Poppy seed or sesame seeds (optional)
Combine the yeast, honey, milk and butter, stir and leave for 15 minutes to dissolve.
*In a large bowl, mix together the flour and salt.  Make a well in the centre, lightly beat one of the eggs in the yeast mixture and add it to the flour.  Stir to make a dough. (It will be very sticky and will definitely need extra flour for kneading).
Knead till smooth and elastic (a good 15 mins) then transfer to a clean bowl, cover and leave to prove for 1 1/2 hours.
*I used a Kitchenaid with a dough hook for the mixing and kneading, it required no extra flour.

Grease a baking sheet or line with baking parchment. Knock back the dough and divide into three equal pieces (I used scales to get them even).  Roll to shape each piece into a long strip for plaiting.

Lay two of the strips over the third to make a star shape and plait from the centre, tucking the ends under.  Do this on the baking sheet, then cover with a tea towel and leave to rise for 30 minutes.

Brush with egg and bake in a hot oven at 190 C for 35 – 40 minutes or until golden and the loaf sounds hollow if you tap it.


What’s your most satisfying baking achievement (or most disappointing binned failure)?

  1. Tricia Evans permalink
    February 28, 2011 6:08 am

    Gorgeous photos Sally – & you’re very prolific with your posts these days. I can almost smell that bread in my own house!! Tricia x

  2. February 28, 2011 6:45 am

    Thank Tricia. We must share some with a cup of coffee SOON!

  3. February 28, 2011 8:42 am

    Man that looks good. Might break the no-bread-making rule because this one looks pretty easy. Do you think it would work with gluten-free flour?

    • March 1, 2011 6:30 am

      I have no experience with gluten-free so can’t say – let me know if you try it, I’d be interested to know how it turns out.

  4. February 28, 2011 8:44 am

    Sounds and looks divine Sally! I remember as a teenager trying my hand at making croissants – took me a full day, and once was enough!

    Is it possible to buy fresh yeast in Dubai?


    • March 1, 2011 6:29 am

      Croissants….don’t talk to me about making croissants! Still need to master this one (Dubai climate does not help). Fresh yeast is sold at Park n Shop – ask at the bakery counter.

  5. February 28, 2011 8:48 am

    I also love the smell of yeasted breads but it seems we’re in the minority here. A lot of people don’t like the yeasty taste…but hey…I love it. Beautiful bread!

  6. forkitoverdubai permalink
    February 28, 2011 9:09 am


    That looks amazing. I have never been successful in making bread – I have tried it a couple of times and it just never tasted right. Will definitely give yours a go.

    Let you know how it turns out.

  7. February 28, 2011 9:30 am

    Ooooh! Your Challah sparkles! This bread was just awesome 🙂

  8. February 28, 2011 1:16 pm

    This has become one of my favourite bread recipes. I made it 3 times this month. And fortunately one of those times was yesterday and there is still half of it left, otherwise seeing how appetizing yours looks I would have been craving for it 🙂

  9. February 28, 2011 5:07 pm

    Goodness, that is one gorgeous golden loaf. Impressive!

  10. February 28, 2011 5:53 pm

    wowzers yours looks AMAZING!!!!! glad you got the conversions OK… also glad it worked as you know bread making can be so much about mood!… I love your blog by the way… amazing recipes and stunning photo’s… I am now a follower!

  11. February 28, 2011 7:02 pm

    Your crust looks amazing! Beautiful loaf!

  12. February 28, 2011 9:00 pm

    Your challah looks lovely! Great job with the challenge!

  13. February 28, 2011 10:45 pm

    Oh, dear, your loaf looks amazing! 🙂
    The photos are stunning 🙂

  14. March 1, 2011 3:16 am

    That looks lovely, this loaf was so rewarding wasn’ it?

    • March 1, 2011 6:28 am

      Yes it was a rewarding loaf – all that baking should be. Thanks for everyone’s nice comments and Dom, I’ve never had a ‘wowsers’ before! Cheers.

  15. March 2, 2011 3:06 pm

    Perfect Challah! I love making Challah and brioche is too daunting but I never thought of Challah as a brioche without the trickiness! Great thought! And I agree. Beautiful photos of a beautiful bread.

  16. March 2, 2011 7:21 pm

    Sally, I am very impressed. Your Challah looks better them the one I buy. Yes, I have to admit not baking it myself. Yeast doughs just scare me a little.
    I would love a piece right now, toasted with butter and honey, oh my.

  17. March 3, 2011 2:23 pm

    Beautiful golden braid, Sally! I bet it really did make the most amazing French toast too! 🙂

  18. March 4, 2011 5:36 am

    That is one fine looking challah! The crust is so golden! I am a big fan of challah and can never have enough of it.

  19. March 4, 2011 11:27 am

    Mmmm bread is my absolute weakness when it comes to food.
    This looks great, I will definitely [attempt to] make it very soon.

  20. March 4, 2011 9:39 pm

    That loaf looks fantastic. Thanks for taking part.

  21. March 4, 2011 9:42 pm

    wow sally! this looks brilliant!! i cant get over how stunning this looks:) thanks for sharing this.

  22. March 4, 2011 11:57 pm

    Absolutely stunning! I have never seen such a beautiful challah! I have to confess how lucky I am to own a Thermomix. My greatest achievement it to make brioche perfectly – and almost effortlessly, with the machine. I did roll them all and their little heads stood up straight – every single one of them – which is quite a feat. Even both chef’s in both of my bread baking classes (Le Cordon Bleu) and (Richard Bertinet) had nodding heads. They were my teachers and my little heads are always perfect. I have made it by hand though. I am a firm believer to do it yourself first (just like using a calculator)… and then resort to the machinery to do it more often that one normally would.
    Standing ovation for you!

    • March 5, 2011 11:30 pm

      It’s so interesting to hear about the Thermomix, Valerie. I am determined to make really good brioche one day, but in the meantime the challah was a very satisying alternative and much simpler.

  23. March 5, 2011 11:25 pm

    The glazing on your loaf looks fantastic – really appetising.

  24. March 6, 2011 3:30 am

    I can imagine the wonderful aromas permeating every nook and cranny of your home!

  25. flavourexplosions permalink
    March 6, 2011 10:35 am

    Yummm that challah is so amazing I can smell it here!
    I would say my biggest achievement was making a reeaaally good croissant last week. It was probably my 4th try and it took two days but it was the best I’ve made them yet! I was so excited to eat them!

    I just joined fresh from the oven so I’ll be in it next month, very excited!


  26. March 6, 2011 1:59 pm

    This looks great Sally! I would love to try this as (1) I have just bought blackcurrant jam and (2) habibi bought me a Kitchenaid mixer for Christmas so would love to put these 2 things into use.

    If you don’t mind, just some questions on yeast as I don’t bake break – can I buy dry yeast from Carrefour or Waitrose? And is their a particular brand you would recommend? I have something called “Quick Yeast” from Doves Farm in my pantry – been sitting there for 2 years – would this work?

    • March 6, 2011 2:11 pm

      So easy in the Kitchenaid – but check the expiry date on the yeast. If it doesn’t froth up at the first stage…it’s history!

  27. March 6, 2011 4:04 pm

    Your bread is stunning! Looks like a work of art!

  28. March 7, 2011 9:06 am

    Well, I am wiping drool off the keyboard, but what do you expect after posting such gorgeous pictures of your bread? Will file this away for a rainy day- I love baking bread, but have not yet made Challah. Off to find something to eat now…

  29. March 11, 2011 3:56 am

    You made me smile today with this gorgeous loaf! Love that glossy rich crust. Maybe this weekend I will be able to bake again. If it keeps up raining like this, it will be perfect timing. 🙂

    • March 11, 2011 8:52 am

      I’m so glad Krista – this loaf is good for any weather.

  30. March 16, 2011 10:35 pm

    LOVE the smell of yeasted bread. I makes me feel good and makes me hungry. The challah looks fabulous and the crust is beautiful.

  31. March 18, 2011 11:52 am

    I love making Challah and I love the smell, taste and texture of warm-from-the-oven Challah. Yours is stunningly perfect and now I really want to make another loaf; it has been far too long.

  32. March 18, 2011 1:22 pm

    Mm beautiful challah. I love the golden colour of this bread!

  33. March 23, 2011 1:18 pm

    yea, tearing a hunk off and dabbing butter on the warm piece…mouth watering. such a good job you’ve done! thank you for sharing this here!

  34. October 16, 2011 10:29 pm

    I was searching for a challah recipe…and guess which link turned up on the top of the page 😉 All Hail My Custard Pie.

    • October 17, 2011 8:02 am

      That’s nice to know – cheers 🙂


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