Challah by hand

I have two versions of this challah recipe. This one you kneed with your hands which is my favorite way. Not only do I like it best, but it is also faster. Be warned that you need rapid rise yeast for this version.


  • 5 cups of flour, plus an extra cup of flour on the side
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 3 packages of Rapid Rise Yeast
  • 1 Tablespoon of salt
  • 4 eggs plus one egg yolk
  • 1 ¼ cups water
  • ½ cup of canola or vegetable oil (not peanut or cottonseed oil)
  • pam
  • sesame or poppy seeds


  • large bowl
  • measuring cups
  • table knife
  • plastic wrap
  • baking sheet
  • dishtowel
  • clean hands


  1. In large bowl put 5 cups of flour, sugar, Rapid Rise Yeast, and salt. Mix well.
  2. Set aside 4 eggs (mixed lightly with a fork)
  3. Heat 1 ½ cups of water with ½ cup of canola or vegetable oil (not peanut or cottonseed oil) to about 120-130 degrees. Usually this takes about 50 seconds in the microwave.
  4. Add warmed oil & water to the flour mixture and blend with a table knife. Then add the eggs and continue to mix until blended. Stir with knife until it begins to come together.
  5. Dump dough on a floured counter top or board. Use your hands to knead the dough 10 min until it becomes smooth and elastic. (Most likely, while you are kneading, you will need to add more flour a little at a time from the cup of flour that you set aside)
  6. After you have finished the kneading, the dough will feel smooth and elastic, cover it with the bowl and let it rest for 10 minutes.
  7. To shape the dough into loaves, decide how many you want to make perhaps three, four or more. Cut the dough into the number you want. Then take each piece and divide into three. Roll the dough between you hands to make a snake. Then braid the three snaked-pieces together.
  8. Place on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with PAM. After you have finished all the loaves, cover them with a dishtowel and let rise for about 20-30 minutes while they almost double their size.
  9. Take the yolk of 1 egg and mix with enough water for one-half of the shell. Mix and brush on the loaves before baking. Then sprinkle with sesame or poppy seed.
  10. Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees about 20 minutes until browned. You can tap the bottom to see if it sounds hollow to test for doneness.
  11. Let cool on a rack. Enjoy!

What you should know

This freezes very well if you freeze it the same day.

Re: Challah by hand

I have heard many answers to the question why we braid the challah. My favourite came from my father who said it is because on the Sabbath we tear chunks rather than slice, and the braiding makes this easier. It shows that we are so blessed we won’t ration portions, it’s easier to throw across the Shabbat table to the multitude of children and grand-children and it’s much better for dunking in the chicken soup.

Re: Challah by hand

I will confirm the tastiness of this recipe. As the author’s proud son I have made many batches. I dare say I do not braid it as well as my mom. As a small gesture of rebellion I have on occassionally substituted 2 cups of bread flour with whole wheat flour. Not as sweet as the original but a nice flavor none the less.

Re: Challah by hand