Three-Stranded Braided Challah Bread




1 pkg. active dry yeast (2-1/4 tsp.)
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 lg. eggs, lightly beaten
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
3 tbsp. vegetable oil
3 tbsp. sugar
1-1/4 tsp. salt
2-1/2 cup bread flour
1 egg
1/4 tsp. salt
1 to 3 tbsp. poppy seeds or
sesame seeds (I prefer poppy seeds)


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 to 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 1-1/2 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°F. 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°F oven until thawed, about 35-40 minutes.

Author's Comments

This recipe is adapted from The Joy of Cooking. We simply adore it. I often make a double batch--one to eat, and one to freeze.

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1 Recipe Reviews


audra reviewed Three-Stranded Braided Challah Bread on April 2, 2007

This made a beautiful loaf! Although I have been making bread several years, I have never attempted to make a braid of any sort, and the instructions were very clear and even a novice to bread making could have done it. I will definataly add this recipe to my keep file! Thank you so much!