Jewish Bread Recipes

Remember to bake a fresh loaf of Challa for Sabbath...

Challah: A Traditional Jewish Bread



Challah is a traditional Jewish bread recipe that is made for special Jewish events, holidays and celebrations. This traditional bread recipe is made for each of the Sabbath meals. Before each meal is eaten a special prayer is recited over the two loaves of challah. The prayer goes, “Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha’olam, hamotzi lechem min ha’aretz.”

Although challah recipes are holiday Jewish bread recipes, they are not made for Passover. This is because it contains leavening. An alternative starch that is a better option for Passover is Matza. Matza can be formed into flat bread or Matza balls. Matza is a Passover staple that tastes great in soups.

Challah is eaten by Jews around the world. In German Jewish communities and Western Yiddish communities challah is called barches, in Stockholm it is called Bergis, in Gothenburg it is called Barkis, in eastern Yiddish communities it is called Khale and in South African Jewish communities it is called Kitke. The shape that the challah loaves take will depend greatly on what event the bread has been made for and where in the world you are.

The design and shape of these Jewish bread recipes can vary from simple loaves to complex braided designs. In the Middle East, Persia and in North Africa you will not see braided challahs. However, you will find braided challas in most other Jewish communities including Italian Jewish communities, Ashkenazis communities and is traditional Sephardic Jewish communities. You will find the simplest braided designs at regular meals and more elaborate braided designs at special events like Jewish weddings.

Challah Jewish bread recipes come in several variations. The traditional challah bread recipe is made with white flour, lots of eggs and sugar. Modern variations on this recipe reduce the number of eggs used and replace the refined sugar with honey or molasses. Some of the recipe variations that are popular today include challah made with whole wheat flour, recipes for bread machine challah, honey-sweetened challah and eggless challah.

Challah bread recipes are not quick bread recipes. They take time and bread yeast. However, for a yeast bread, challah is relatively easy to make, once you get the hang of it. Challah recipes are a great homemade bread recipe to start with if you are interested in learning how to bake or if you are interested in learning how to cook traditional Jewish cuisine.

Challah: A Traditional Jewish Bread

What You Will Need For Two Loaves


  • 2 ¼ cups water

  • 1 tbsp active dry yeast (one package)

  • 1 tbsp sugar

  • 1 tbsp salt (optional)

  • 1/4 cup oil

  • 2 beaten eggs

  • 9-10 cups flour

  • 1 egg yolk

  • 1 tbsp water

  • Directions

      Dissolve the yeast and sugar in lukewarm water (105F or (40C (Lukewarm water feels neither hot nor cold when a drop is placed on your wrist.)

      Let sit for 10 minutes to proof the yeast. If there are no bubbles in the water after this time, the yeast is inactive and you should start over with new yeast.

      Add the salt (optional), oil, eggs, and most of the flour to the 2 1/4 cups (55 cl) of water.


      Place dough on floured board and knead for 5-10 minutes.

      Place dough in a clean bowl, brush some oil on the top (optional), and cover the bowl with a towel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.

      Punch the dough down and let rise until doubled again (maybe another hour).

      Punch dough down and place onto floured board. Form into two loaves. You can make normal loaves, or you can cut the dough and braid (with three or six pieces per loaf), or you can make braided or unbraided rolls, or you can roll the dough out until it's about 1/4 inch ( 1/2 cm) thick and then spread fried onions over it. Place loaves into oiled pans.

      Cover pans and let rise for about 30 minutes. (Skip this step if you've rolled the dough out and covered with onions.)

      Mix the egg yolk with 1 Tbsp (15 ml) of water. Brush loaves with this mixture. (Again, skip this if you've rolled the dough out.)

      Bake at 400F or 200C for 20 minutes, then lower heat to 350F or 175C and bake for 40 additional minutes. If you are making rolls, you probably need to bake for a total of 20-25 minutes.

      You can add poppy or sesame seeds to the dough, or you can sprinkle the seeds on top. This bread is traditionally made with white flour, but is still good if made with all or part whole wheat flour. I think its good taste comes from the oil and eggs in the dough.

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