Chewy Challah Bread in Just Seven Hours!

by Christopher Lawson

This tender bread is scented with honey and baked to a golden brown. Use this recipe to make one large challah, or two smaller ones.

Active Time: Total Time: Servings:
30 mins 6 hrs 30 mins 12 servings

This challah bread recipe gives you one large or two small loaves; perfect for hosting a big meal, or when you want to stash an extra challah in the freezer (it will last up to three months when well-wrapped and frozen). The honey in the dough gives it a floral, slightly sweet aroma, while the egg wash gives the bread a deep golden hue. Sprinkle sesame seeds, poppy seeds, or flaky salt on top after the egg wash and before baking to personalize the bread with some texture.


  • 3/4 cup warm water (110°F)

  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast (from 1 [1/4-ounce] envelope)

  • 1/2 cup, plus 2 tablespoons honey, divided

  • 6 tablespoons neutral cooking oil (such as vegetable or canola oil), plus more for greasing bowl

  • 4 large eggs

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

  • 5 1/2 to 6 (23 3/8 to 25 1/2-ounces) cups all-purpose flour, as needed, plus more for work surface

  • Black sesame seeds


  1. Whisk together warm water, yeast, and 2 tablespoons of the honey in a small bowl until combined. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.

  2. While yeast stands, whisk together oil, 3 eggs, and remaining 1/2 cup honey in bowl of a stand mixer until combined. Add yeast mixture, salt, and 5 1/2 cups of the flour. Beat with a dough hook attachment on low speed until dough comes together, about 2 minutes. Increase mixer speed to medium, and beat until dough is smooth and elastic and clears sides of bowl, about 8 minutes, adding remaining 1/2 cup flour as needed to create a firm, yet soft and pliable dough. Transfer dough to a large bowl greased with oil, turning to coat dough. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and let stand at room temperature until doubled in size, about 2 hours.

  3. To make 1 large loaf, punch dough down, and transfer to a lightly floured work surface. Divide dough into 5 equal pieces (9 1/5 ounces each). Roll each piece into an 18-inch-long rope. Gather each rope at 1 end, and pinch together. Braid dough ropes together as desired. (For a 5-strand braid, imagine that each rope is numbered from 1 to 5 from left to right. Cross ropes over in this order: 1 over 3, 2 over 3, 5 over 2; repeat.) Pinch ends together. Transfer dough to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.

  4. To make 2 smaller loaves, punch dough down, and transfer to a lightly floured work surface. Divide dough into 2 equal halves (23 ounces each). Set 1 dough half aside, and cover. Divide 1 dough half into 3 equal pieces (about 7 2/3 ounces each). Roll each piece into a 14-inch-long rope. Gather each rope at 1 end, and pinch together. Braid dough ropes together. Pinch ends together. Repeat process with reserved dough half. Transfer loaves to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, and place at least 3 inches apart, allowing room for loaves to rise.

  5. Beat remaining 1 egg in a small bowl. Brush dough with egg. Cover with lightly greased plastic wrap, and let rise until almost doubled in size, about 1 hour, 30 minutes.

  6. Preheat oven to 350°F. Remove plastic wrap from dough, and brush dough with egg. Sprinkle with black sesame seeds. Bake in preheated oven until golden brown and a thermometer inserted into center of loaf registers 190°F, 25 to 30 minutes for smaller loaves, or 30 to 35 minutes for  larger loaf. Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool completely, about 2 hours.



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