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How to Bake Bread

Challah Bread

Challah bread
Challah bread dough is enriched with eggs and oil, and a few tablespoons of sugar add some sweetness. kgfoto/Getty Images

Challah is a beautiful, braided egg bread traditionally served at the Shabbat meal and during most Jewish holiday feasts. Braiding the dough is really quite simple and a delightful way to finish a bread.

To braid challah:

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  1. Prepare dough according to recipe. Divide the dough into 3 pieces on a floured surface. Cut one piece into thirds; roll each third into a 16-inch-long rope using your hands.
  2. Place the 3 ropes side by side and braid; pinch both ends to seal and place to one side on a large greased cookie sheet.
  3. Repeat with another piece of dough for the second loaf. Place alongside first loaf — at least 5 inches apart — on cookie sheet.
  4. Cut remaining piece of dough in half; cut each half into thirds. Roll each third into 17-inch ropes using hands.
  5. Place ropes side by side and braid; pinch both ends to seal.
  6. Carefully place braid on one of the braided loaves on the cookie sheet, stretching top braid if necessary. Tuck ends of top braid under bottom braid. Repeat with remaining dough.
  7. Cover braided loaves with clean kitchen towel. Let rise in warm place away from drafts per recipe or until doubled in bulk.
  8. Beat 1 tablespoon water into an egg yolk. Brush tops and sides of loaves with egg mixture.The egg wash gives challah its characteristic sheen.
  9. Bake according to recipe until bread is brown and loaves sound hollow when tapped with a finger.
braiding challah dough
(Clockwise from top left) Gently roll the dough into a rope without using too much pressure; make a neat braid that is neither too tight nor too loose; gently stretch the top braid, if needed, so you can tuck under both ends; brush with egg wash.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.

At this point, there's only one more step to go and it's the easiest of all — slicing off a piece of your freshly baked bread and enjoying it with fresh butter or fruit preserves.

Originally Published: Aug 14, 2006

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