When I started baking, there were a few glutenous creations I put on the highest of yeasty pedestals. Among the untouchables were the stunning chocolate babka, and shiny six strand challah loaf. I still haven’t tried the babka, but I’ve fallen in love with a delicious six strand challah recipe that’s a crowd pleaser, to say the least. It’s lovely to look at, tastes wonderful, and is really fun to make.

This bread has a tender crumb and looks amazing on the table. It makes excellent grilled cheese sandwiches and french toast, but I highly recommend you start by ripping off a warm hunk and slathering it in butter as soon as it’s cool enough to touch.

After making this recipe, I realized there’s nothing to be intimidated about. The dough isn’t finicky, and the braid gets easier over time. Feel free to start with a three strand plait if you want, I’ve made both with great success. This recipe makes two loaves, and also looks lovely in a wreath shape.

Never tried challah? Never even heard of it? I love food with a good backstory. Check out what challah is all about here.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of yeast
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup coconut oil, more for greasing bowl
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 8 to 8 ½ cups all-purpose flour

METHOD

  1. In a large bowl of stand mixer, dissolve yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar in 1 3/4 cups lukewarm water.
  2. Whisk oil into yeast on medium, then beat in 4 eggs, one at a time, with remaining sugar and salt. Gradually add flour. When dough holds together, it is ready for kneading.
  3. With dough hook and mixer on medium, knead until smooth. The dough will be soft and will not be very sticky. Clean out bowl and grease it, then return dough to bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until almost doubled in size. Dough may also rise in an oven that has been warmed to 150 degrees then turned off. Punch down dough, cover and let rise again in a warm place for another half-hour.
  4. To make a 6-braid challah, either straight or circular, take half the dough and form it into 6 balls. With your hands, roll each ball into a strand about 12 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide. Place the 6 in a row, parallel to one another. Pinch the tops of the strands together. Move the outside right strand over 2 strands. Then take the second strand from the left and move it to the far right. Take the outside left strand and move it over 2. Move second strand from the right over to the far left. Start over with the outside right strand. Continue this until all strands are braided. For a straight loaf, tuck ends underneath. For a circular loaf, twist into a circle, pinching ends together. Make a second loaf the same way. Place braided loaves on a greased cookie sheet with at least 2 inches in between.
  5. Beat remaining egg and brush it on loaves. Either freeze breads or let rise another hour.
  6. If baking immediately, preheat oven to 375 degrees and brush loaves again. If freezing, remove from freezer 5 hours before baking. Then dip your index finger in the egg wash, then into poppy or sesame seeds and then onto a mound of bread. Continue until bread is decorated with seeds.
  7. Bake in middle of oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until golden. Cool loaves on a rack.

Recipe slightly adapted from here

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