We have been holding off on this recipe for some time because it is special to us and we wanted to make sure we got it right. With Purim approaching and time growing short before Passover, this is the perfect time to share the challah bread recipe that we enjoy every Shabbat and Yom Tov.
Why do we call this recipe Miracle Challah?
I have to give credit where credit is due. This recipe got its name from our close friend, Brad, who used to join us for Shabbat and Yom Tov meals quite often before he moved away. He was always amazed that the challah was consistently perfect, soft, sweet, and and delicious week after week and he would call it Miracle Challah. I guess the name just stuck.
Step by step guide
Time needed: 2 hours and 5 minutes.
How to make the best Miracle Challah step by step.
- Activate the yeast.
Activate the yeast with 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1 ½ cups of warm water. If you are unsure if the yeast is ready, check out our Yeast Activation Video.
- Add oil, sugar, and eggs.
Add the oil, sugar, and eggs to the activated yeast.
- Add flour and salt.
Make sure that salt is the last ingredient.
- Knead in the bread machine and let dough sit.
After the kneading step is complete, let the dough sit for 30 minutes to rise. When it is ready for the next step it should look like this:
Braid the dough.
- Egg wash, bake, and cool.
Brush the tops of the challah with an egg yolk egg wash. You can make this wash by scrambling one egg in a bowl with 1 teaspoon of cold water. Bake at 350ºF for 30 minutes or until the tops are golden brown. Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing in and enjoying.
Challah bread is unique in that it is used as a starter to almost all Jewish festival meals. Challah bread is usually made with eggs and tends to be a little bit sweet. This is not true of all challah recipes but that is a debate for a different time and place.
I have made this recipe with all-purpose flour, and with high gluten bread flour and a combination of the two. It comes out fantastic whichever way you choose.
The eggs the ingredient that will make the challah fluffy. Also, baking the challah if the dough has not risen can make it dense. If the dough seems dense after taking out of the bread machine you can put a damp towel over it and let it rise on the counter for an hour or so. This should also yield a fluffier challah.
This custom has to do with separating out a one ounce portion of dough from batches that use 5 pounds of flour or more (there are different customs as to this amount). This portion was then given to the kohanim (priestly class). Technically, the one ounce part that is separated is out is called challah in Hebrew and that is where this bread gets its name. These days the challah portion cannot be consumed and so it must be burned. The details of these laws are very complex and oukosher.org has a short review of some of the more common customs.
You will not always need to say this blessing if you have not met the right conditions (see above answer to the question about burning a piece of challah) but when you do the blessing should be said before the separation. The text of the blessing can be found by clicking here.
Whether the dough is separated and burned or not, there is always a blessing you can say before eating challah. The text of that blessing can be found at Chabad.org.
More recipes like this one
- bread machine
- 1 tablespoon yeast
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 ½ cups warm water
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 egg
- ⅓ cup oil
- 5 ½ cups flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg for egg wash
- 1 teaspoon cold water for egg wash
- In the bowl of the bread machine place yeast, 1 tablespoon sugar, and warm water. Allow yeast to proof 5 minutes.
- Add ½ cup sugar, eggs, oil, flour, and salt on top.
- Put into bread machine and set to dough setting.
- When entire dough cycle is done (approx 1 ½ hours) i like to leave dough to rise up to 30 more minutes until dough has risen to the top of the lid.
- Remove dough from container and split into two.
- Split the first ball into 3 (or more) strands and braid. Place braided loaf into greased pan.
- Repeat with second dough ball.
- Brush tops with egg wash and sprinkle with desired topping, if using.
- Heat oven to 350ºF. Allow challah to rise while waiting for oven to heat.
- Bake challah for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.
- Allow challah to cool for 5-10 minutes then remove from pan allow loaves to cool on cooling rack.
- Scramble together one egg and one teaspoon of water. Brush onto dough before baking.