Challah (Jewish Egg Braid)

Challah is the sweet egg bread of the Sabbath. For centuries, practicing Jews have made a week's worth of bread on Friday so that the bread would be fresh for the Sabbath observance. The poppy or sesame seeds sprinkled on top of the braided yeast bread represent manna, the bread God provided for the Jews during their 40-year exodus from Egypt. This also makes delicious toast and French toast.


  • 1 package dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees F)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees F)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 to 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • Vegetable cooking spray
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1 teaspoon sesame or poppy seeds


  1. Dissolve yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in 1/2 cup warm water; let mixture stand 5 minutes.
  2. Combine oil and next 4 ingredients in large mixing bowl; beat at medium speed with electric mixer until blended.
  3. Add yeast mixture and 2 cups of the flour; beat until smooth.
  4. Gradually stir in enough remaining flour to make a soft dough. (Dough should be sticky.) Cover dough and let rest 10 minutes.
  5. Turn dough out onto well-floured surface, and knead for 5 minutes.
  6. Place in well-greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85 degrees F), free from drafts, 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in bulk.
  7. Punch dough down; turn dough out onto well-floured surface, and knead several times. Divide dough into thirds. Shape each third into a 14-inch rope. Place ropes on a greased baking sheet (do not stretch); pinch rope ends together at one end to seal. Braid ropes; pinch loose ends to seal.
  8. Lightly spray with vegetable cooking spray. Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, 30 to 40 minutes or until doubled in bulk.
  9. Beat egg white and water; gently brush over bread.
  10. Sprinkle with seeds.
  11. Bake at 375 degrees F for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden.

Makes 1 loaf.