Challah photo by Michael Kahn

Recipe adapted from “The Silver Palate Cookbook” by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins


  • 2 cups warm milk or water, about 110 degrees
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 7 tbsp. unsalted butter or vegetable oil, plus more for oiling bowl and pan
  • 2½ tsp. active dry yeast (or 1 package)
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • Approximately 5-6 cups all-purpose flour or bread flour
  • 1 egg lightly beaten with 1 tsp. water and 1 tsp. honey for egg wash
  • Sesame seeds or blanched sliced almonds, for sprinkling (optional)


  1. Place milk or water, sugar and butter or oil into a large microwave-safe bowl or in a small pan. Heat mixture until butter is almost melted. Stir and let cool five minutes.  (Mixture should be warm, not hot, approximately 110 degrees.)
  2. Sprinkle yeast over mixture and stir to combine. Allow mixture to sit five to 10 minutes or until foamy. Add beaten eggs, egg yolk and salt. Mix. Add 1½ cups flour and stir.  Continue adding flour, half a cup at a time, until dough becomes too stiff to stir. Sprinkle counter with flour and turn dough out onto counter. Begin kneading dough, adding small handfuls of flour to keep dough from sticking.  Knead until dough is smooth and no longer sticky, five to 10 minutes. 
  3. Lightly oil bowl, then add dough, turning to coat all sides of dough with oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm, draft-free area to rise until doubled, approximately 1½ hours. Alternatively, dough can rise overnight in the refrigerator. Let dough come back to room temperature before continuing with recipe.
  4. Turn dough out onto lightly floured counter.  Cut dough in half and each half into thirds. Form each piece into a long rope, approximately 14 inches long. Braid three ropes together, and then wrap the braid around itself to form a round challah. Repeat with remaining ropes. 
  5. Transfer breads to an oiled or parchment-lined baking sheet. Loosely cover breads with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  7. Remove plastic wrap and gently brush challahs with egg wash. Sprinkle with seeds, if using. Place breads in preheated oven and bake 30-35 minutes, or until light golden brown and hollow sounding when tapped with fingers. Remove challahs from baking sheet and let cool on a cooling rack.  

Makes 2 challahs.