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Golden, buttery, and delicious, this traditional Challah is well worth the effort and will be the centerpiece of your Shabbat or holiday table (and also makes the perfect Challah French Toast the next day).
Cuisine Jewish
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 9 hours 5 minutes
Servings 2 Loaves


  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup sugar plus 3 tsp
  • 8 cups flour
  • 2 1/4 cups warm water
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil plus 1 tbsp
  • 2 tbsp course salt
  • poppy or sesame seeds (optional)


  1. Place the yeast, 2 teaspoons of the sugar and 2 teaspoons of the flour in a tall tumbler. Add ¾ cup of the water and mix well. Set in a warm place and leave covered.
  2. In a big bowl, place 4 cups of flour. Add 1½ cups of the water, ½ cup of the oil, ½ cup of the sugar, the salt and 2 of the eggs and mix well.
  3. When the yeast mixture reaches the top of the glass, add to the batter in the bowl. Mix well and gradually add 3 more cups of the flour. Knead the mixture right in the bowl until very smooth and elastic. Cover and set in a warm place for about 5 hours, or until doubled in bulk.
  4. Knock the dough down and add about ¾ cup more of the flour, kneading well to give a soft but not sticky dough. Oil the top of the dough with the remaining oil. Cover and let rise again until doubled in bulk, which should take another 2½ hours.
  5. Knead again. Divide the dough in two. Shape into two loaves to fit in loaf tins, or braid on a greased baking sheet. Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk, which should be another hour.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  7. Combine the remaining egg and sugar and brush over the top of the loaves. Sprinkle with seeds if desired. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until done.

Recipe Notes

  • The rest time depends on the type of yeast you use – if you use quick rise yeast, you can cut down your waiting time.
  • Use leftover Challah for French Toast or bread pudding.
  • Topping variations can include sesame or poppy seeds, or salt.
  • For an extra gorgeous sheen, brush your Challah with egg wash twice.