Daring Bakers Challenge: Challah Back, Y’all!

A few months ago I joined the Daring Kitchen, but it took until now for me to find the time onions to participate in a challenge. I'd just been saying to my boyfriend that I wanted to try baking bread, when I logged on to check what this month's challenge was.

May’s Daring Bakers’ Challenge was pretty twisted – Ruth from The Crafts of Mommyhood challenged us to make challah! Using recipes from all over, and tips from “A Taste of Challah,” by Tamar Ansh, she encouraged us to bake beautifully braided breads.

I've only ever made hot cross buns before, so this was a bit of a learning curve. I began with the "easy challah" recipe. It took me three packets of yeast to work out that "warm water" doesn't mean straight out of the kettle. I was murdering my yeast. Yeah, don't do that. My first attempt at challah was fraught with errors, though it still produced a lovely-tasting bread that was demolished with fervour. The second time I decided to try the honey challah recipe provided.

Both times I made one loaf with a cinnamon filling and one without. I was concerned with the honey challah that the cinnamon would clash with the honey, but they honey flavour is very subtle, so it was perfect.

I'm sure you're supposed to wait for it to cool. Pfft. Sliced this baby up while it was still steaming: there's really nothing like bread straight out of the oven. I was also eager to see how the cinnamon went this time. Not perfect swirls, but at least it was present. 

As nice as thickly sliced bread is, the beauty of a braided loaf is getting to tear it apart. We grabbed some butter and ate the entire loaf warm. So delicious. 

Here's the recipe for honey challah. You'll find all the recipes and tips over at Daring Kitchen

Honey White Challah

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups (360 ml) warm water, separated
1 tbsp (15ml) sugar
2 tbsp (30ml) dry active yeast
1/2 cup honey
1 tbsp (15 ml) oil
4 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp (9g) salt
5 cups plain flour (plus more as needed)
1 egg beaten with 1 tsp water

Method

  1. Combine 1/2 cup warm water, 1 tbsp sugar and 2 tbsp yeast; proof for 5 minutes until foamy
  2. Add remaining water, honey, oil eggs, salt and 5 cups of flour. Knead until smooth, adding extra flour as needed. 
  3. Transfer dough to a clean, oiled bowl. Turn to coat, or add a little more oil on top. Cover bowl with tea towel and rest in a warm place until doubled (approx 1 1/2 hours)
  4. Punch down dough; divide into two. Make two loaves, shaped or braided as desired. Place on greased baking trays; cover with tea towel and allow to rise for 20 minutes
  5. Preheat oven to 180°C (325°F). Brush loaves with egg wash; bake for 30-40 minutes.
  6. Cool on wire racks (Or shove it straight into your mouth if your willpower is like mine)

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32 thoughts on “Daring Bakers Challenge: Challah Back, Y’all!

  1. Great job!

    Great job! Your challah looks great, especially warm and torn with butter slathered on! YUM! That is the best way to eat bread! And yeah, don’t kill your yeast, haha. Think of it as a baby, and test the water on the inside of your wrist first. 🙂
    Jenni, The Gingered Whisk

  2. Welcome to the group – I’m glad you found the onions to participate this month 😉 My mouth is watering at the the thought of warm, butter-slathered chunks of cinnamon-swirled challah. Yum!

    • Thanks so much! It’s an absolute pleasure being a part of the group. It’s been such a positive experience so far, not just for me but for a lot of other people who have seen the post and wanted to take on the challenge as well.

      And sorry for the belated reply. LJ somehow labelled your comment as spam and it was hidden. :/

  3. Beautiful Challah!

    Your challah came out GREAT! And once you get the hang of working with yeast, you’ll have no problems baking up beautiful loaves any time you want. I am so jealous that you just dug right in to the toasty warm, fresh loaf and devoured it. Looking at the pictures, I can’t blame you at all! 🙂 Great job!!

    • Re: Beautiful Challah!

      Thank you! I think I finally have the hang of yeast now. Very much looking forward to learning more about the bread side of baking. Though it doesn’t last long in my house!

    • Oh for that I just sprinkled cinnamon sugar on the flattened dough before rolling it into the strands. On the Daring Kitchen post, Ruth demonstrated how to make the strands by rolling it out first, so I followed that and made the cinnamon addition. I’m not sure if that’s right as I couldn’t find any examples on how to make the cinnamon swirl, so perhaps there’s another way that gives better swirls through the dough.

  4. Gorgeous !!

    Wow the Challah is gorgeous !!!
    Congratulations on your first DB Challenge.
    Looking forward to more goodies on your page.

    Cheers !!

  5. Fabulous!

    I love your challah! And I love that you dove right in warm from the oven. I always have to hold back from that. (It I do it the three year old will want to, too…) I am honored to have hosted your first go with the Daring Bakers. You learned something along the way (yeast can survive quite a bit… but boiling water? Not so much…!), and you had fun! Total success. Thank you for baking with me this month!

    • Re: Fabulous!

      Thanks so much! I couldn’t help it, the smell was just so fantastic, even before it was out of the oven. I hadn’t eaten all day so it was even harder to resist.

      Thanks so much for hosting such a lovely challenge! You were so helpful and very encouraging the whole time. I’m so excited about being on board and learning lots of things that I’ve never tried before!

  6. Came over from and omg your bread is GORGEOUS and I WANT! *noms on screen*

    Also, I had to comment on “procrastibaking”–I just told my husband this is me! This is the blog that I would have if I stopped procrastinating the making of the baking blog with the procrastibaking. (Whoo did that make any sense at all?!)

    Oh and thank you for introducing me to Daring Bakers! What a fun site! 🙂

    • Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving such a lovely comment.

      Haha, that makes total sense! This blog for me provides a second round of procrastination when I post about the procrastibaking, while at the same time fuelling the procrastibaking – I probably wouldn’t try as many new things were it not for having this blog to post about it on!

      I actually found out about Daring Kitchen through BBB as well many many years ago – took me ages to join, though.

  7. Quick questions from a bread-making newb:

    First, what does “proof” mean in the context of using yeast? I’ve never heard of that. And second, what’s an egg wash? Is that scrambling an egg and pastry brushing the outside of a loaf with it? My favorite kind of bread is Challah and would love to make it myself for my family.

    • Proofing the dried yeast is essentially just making sure it is still alive. You add it to a warm (not hot) liquid, often (but not always) with some sugar as that is what the yeast eat — wif the yeast foams, you know it is still alive. It’s not as important to do these days as dried yeast is often perfectly preserved, but I always do it just to be safe. The worst thing is getting to the end of hours of mixing and resting and kneading and baking the dough to find it’s dense and hasn’t risen. Happened to me a few times when making hot cross buns – it didn’t foam (I probably shocked it by having the liquid too warm) and I didn’t want to waste the yeast so I went “It’ll be fine” and used it anyway. It’s a waste of all the other ingredients. Much better to make sure the yeast is active.

      And the egg wash is just the egg mixed with water, last item on the ingredients list. Egg wash can refer just to the beaten egg, as you said, or it can be mixed with milk or water (or I’m sure a variety of other things, too).

  8. I wandered over here from the BakeBakeBake group and I love all that you have posted. Or hate it because my the circuit board of my oven died a month ago and the new oven won’t be here for a month. You have me making a list of the things I feel like I NEED to bake. I may have to steal the neighbors kitchen soon.

    • Naw, thanks for stopping by to check it out. That’s lovely of you to say. That’s terrible luck with the oven. It’ll be so good when you have it back, though!

  9. I found this post via the bakebakebake community feature, and I’m very glad I did. I’m a Jewish girl who’s tried baking challah a few times, and this is both the easiest and the tastiest recipe I’ve found so far. I’ll definitely make it again, so thanks! The pictures in this post are good too – I want to reach through my computer screen and take a bite!

  10. 🙂

    This looks very good! I think I might try this very soon 🙂 (And follow you via bloglovin. I like your blog 🙂 )

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