Three-Stranded Braided Challah Bread

Recipe by spatchcock
READY IN: 19hrs
YIELD: 1 loaf




  • Combine yeast and warm water in large mixing bowl or bowl of stand mixer.
  • Let stand until yeast is dissolved, about 5 minutes Add all-purpose flour, 2 large eggs and 2 egg yolks, 3 tbsp vegetable oil, sugar and salt.
  • Mix by hand or on low speed until blended.
  • Gradually stir in bread flour.
  • Knead for about 8 minutes by hand or with dough hook of mixer on medium speed until dough is smooth and elastic and doesn't stick to hands or bowl.
  • Transfer to oiled bowl and turn it over once to coat with oil.
  • Cover with plastic wrap.
  • Let rise in warm place until doubled in volume, about 1-1 1/2 hours.
  • Punch dough down, knead briefly, and refrigerate covered until it has again nearly doubled in volume, 4-12 hours.
  • To shape the dough: Divide dough into three pieces and weigh to be sure that they are of equal size.
  • On an unfloured work surface, roll into balls and let rest, covered loosely with plastic wrap, for ten minutes or so.
  • Grease a baking sheet and sprinkle it with cornmeal.
  • (You can also bake this on a pizza stone with cornmeal-covered parchment, which is what I do.) Roll each ball into a 13-14 inch-long rope, about 1.
  • 5 inches thick and slightly tapered at the ends.
  • Dust three dough ropes with rye flour (I just used AP flour) so that they will be more distinctly separated.
  • Place the three dough ropes side by side and pinch top ends together.
  • Lift left dough rope and place between right and middle ropes.
  • Lift right dough rope and place it between left and middle ropes.
  • Keep doing this until you reach the ends.
  • Tuck both ends of braid underneath loaf and set it on baking sheet.
  • Whisk together egg and salt and brush over the top of the loaf.
  • Don't skip this step--the egg will give you a shiny, beautifully browned challah loaf!
  • Loosely cover braid with lightly oiled plastic wrap.
  • Let rise in a warm place until not quite doubled, about 45 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Brush loaf again with egg wash.
  • If desired, sprinkle with poppy seeds or sesame seeds.
  • (I prefer poppy seeds.) Bake until crust is golden brown, and bottom of loaf sounds hollow when tapped, about 30-35 minutes.
  • Let cool on rack.
  • To freeze, allow to cool COMPLETELY and wrap thickly with plastic wrap.
  • To thaw, place in 200-250 degree oven until thawed, about 35-40 minutes.