Very Best Challah

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Hard to believe that Lucille Amelia is nearly 14 inches long. That is, until I feel her strong kicks on the right side of my stomach. She’s most active in the mornings and evenings, and she’s especially fond of all things sweet: apples, bananas, and grapefruit. My stomach grows and stretches daily. It’s fascinating to observe what a difference 48 hours can make! Last night, as I stood in front of my full-length mirror, I marveled at the curves and changes in my body. How I had gone from stick-thin Monet to this woman with a round and beautiful pregnant body.

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My appetite has also been growing steadily. I discovered a new pregnancy craving last week: honey wheat bagels with thin slices of provolone cheese (toasted, of course). I’ve been eating my bagel and an apple with peanut butter before going to bed (which isn’t a small meal in the least) but for the past three nights, I’ve wanted to eat not one, but two of those honey wheat bagels with cheese! I just can’t seem to get enough food!

I’ve only gained about 9 pounds during my pregnancy (which seems shocking considering how large my stomach has grown) so I’m listening to my body and eating two bagels whenever I feel the urge.

And recipes like this challah bread have also been whetting my appetite. On Monday, I made a big batch of homemade chicken soup, which was perfect for the cold weather we’ve been having in Colorado this week. Two loaves of challah bread rounded out our meal.

I’ve experimented with several different challah bread recipes over the past few years, but I can wholeheartedly admit that this one is my favorite. Many challah bread recipes call for egg yolks, instead of the whole egg, which is not only more time-consuming, but wasteful too. This recipe calls for four whole eggs (Praise the Lord), a 1/4 cup of honey, and a generous sprinkle of poppyseeds. Even better, the dough rises beautifully and is pleasant and cooperative during braiding.

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But we all know the real test comes at first bite. This dough is light and airy, slightly sweet and full of flavor. Ryan enjoyed this challah bread for dinner…and for breakfast the next morning. Neither one of us could get enough. This recipe would be perfect for a dinner party or to serve during Easter weekend. It presents beautifully and tastes even better. So make what I’m calling the “best challah bread” and invite a few friends over to tear into its golden ring.

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Very Best Challah

Yields: two loaves

1 1/2 cups warm water

2 tablespoons active dry yeast

1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons sugar

6 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons salt

1/4 cup honey

2/3 cup canola oil

4 large eggs

Egg wash:

One egg yolk

One tablespoon water

One tablespoon honey

In a small bowl, combine 1 cup water, yeast, and 2 teaspoons sugar. Allow to sit until yeast begins to foam, about five minutes. Meanwhile, in the bowl of your stand mixer (or other large metal bowl) stir together flour, remaining sugar, and salt. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk eggs with honey, oil, and remaining 1/2 cup warm water. Add both egg mixture and yeast mixture to flour. Using the dough hook on your stand mixer, knead for 7-10 minutes (alternately, knead by hand). Your dough should become smooth and elastic. Do not be alarmed if it sticks slightly to the bottom of the bowl.

Remove dough from bowl, kneading in additional flour if too wet, and place in a lightly oiled container (allow enough room for dough to double in size). Cover container with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 2 hours.

Divide two into two balls. Working on one loaf at a time, divide dough into three parts. Roll each part into a long, 16-20 inch rope. Join the three ropes together at the top and braid together dough. If desired, you can form a wreath with your braid, or you can simply bake as is. Place wreath or braid on a parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat the same process with the second ball of dough.

Allow your dough to rise for 20-30 minutes while you preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Before baking, brush both loaves with egg wash. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until loaves are a deep and rich golden color. Allow to cool slightly before serving.

Monet

Anecdotes and Apple Cores

57 thoughts on “Very Best Challah

  1. Rachel @ My Naturally Frugal Family

    Monet that is beautiful challah. I may brave it but bread making it my kryptonite.
    9 lbs is amazing but it does seem that you are eating. And eating intuitively is giving your body what it needs.
    Just 15ish more weeks to go and then we get to see Miss Lucille :)

  2. sallybr

    Monet, beautiful challah! You know, I used to make challah quite often when the stepsons lived with us, the youngest loved this type of bread. I haven’t made it in many years…

    good that you brought fond memories of early baking days, my beginning of marriage to Phil

    I will have to be repetitive and boring, so I apologize but must say you look gorgeous. So there! I said it AGAIN! ;-)

  3. Leah @ Why Deprive?

    I’ve never had challah before, but it sounds so delicious. I still haven’t worked up the courage to try making my own bread – but eventually I will, and I’ll have to try this. It just looks so beautiful, it would be a shame not to make it.

  4. Eileen

    Eat ALL the bagels! And all the lovely braided rings of non-bagel too, of course. :) This challah looks so light–spectacular!

  5. Nami | Just One Cookbook

    I honestly miss being a pregnant (after morning sickness of course) and the greatest excuse to eat a lot without feeling guilty! :D You look so gorgeous with the pregnant belly and I wish I can join you on eating spree! :D What a beautiful challah! I can eat the whole bread even without having a baby inside. =P

  6. Pam

    I’m so glad to hear that you are eating for the two of you! I wish someone I know would’ve done this. She’s tall and thin and was worried about every calorie when pregnant, gained little weight, and now is daily wondering why her baby was so small at birth.

    Your bread looks delicious and I have to try it since I really like Challah bread.

    You look fantastic!!!!

  7. Sarah

    Love that blue dress on you! I feel like have gained 9 pounds during your pregnancy, too, only I’m not going to have a baby to show for it. :) Your bread looks delicious – gluten free challah feels like something I might have to take an entire week off of work for, though.

  8. olympia

    Yummy! Like you, I appreciate recipes that don’t call to use just one part of the egg- ever since we started getting our eggs from the chickens we raise, the thought of wasting eggs is extremely bothersome.

    And you look wonderful!

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  10. Justine

    SO beautiful … both the bread, and you! I dated a few Jewish guys back in college, and their mothers used to tell me that I could never REALLY make a challah bread because I didn’t have the “Sabbath spice.” Just goes to show them what THEY know, right? ;)

    1. Monet Post author

      Haha! So funny! I’ve heard to add cardamom to my challah, but I never have it on hand. Maybe that’s the secret?

  11. Orchidea

    It is nice to hear everythign is going well with your pregnancy and reading about the changes week by week. This recipe souns really nice, I have never tried such a bread. I will post soon some nice Italian Easter recipes and then in few weeks we will fly home to Italy.
    Ciao.

  12. Jessie

    What a gorgeous loaf! I’m glad you’ve enjoyed baking (and snacking!) – it’s fun to see what the cravings have been like. I’m taking notes! :) This recipe is definitely a keeper, and perfect for Easter.

    Enjoy your weekend, Monet! You look beautiful!

  13. kitchen flavours

    Hi Monet,
    Your Challah looks wonderful! I love eating Challah.
    And you look great, pregnancy really suits you! Reading about Baby Lucy’s kick, I kinda miss that feeling! I loved it whenever my baby starts kicking in my tummy!
    Take care and wish you a lovely weekend with hubby!

  14. Annie

    Happy International Women’s Day! On that note, I’d like to say I think you are a wonderful woman who will make a great mother with both your beauty as a female in many ways and support of other women. You are taking notice of more of your femininity in pregnancy while always showing that strength and intelligence you carry. It’s women like you who nurture the future females who will change the world and show their empowerment. On another note, your challah looks delicious!

    1. Monet Post author

      Annie, what a thoughtful and kind comment! Such an uplifting way to begin my day. Thank you for sharing all that you do. You inspire me!

  15. Miss Meat and Potatoes

    You are too precious with your perfect bump! And yet again you’ve managed to share another insanely delicious recipe. BTW what kind of leggings are you loving? Just broke the news today that I’m expecting:) Just 10 weeks behind you!

    1. Monet Post author

      Ah! Congratulations! I love the leggins from American Apparel. They last longer than the ones I buy from Target. So excited for you!

  16. Becky

    Monet,
    You are just glowing, and so pretty in that blue dress. Your bread looks just perfect and so good. A good way to celebrate 25wks.

  17. Eileen

    Monet, Your challah looks delicious. And with homemade chicken soup – oh my! I’m glad to hear you are feeding little Lucy so well. She is one lucky girl – in more than just one way :)

  18. Joanne

    What an adorable belly you have!! And wow, only nine pounds! You must be all baby. :P

    That challah does look like the perfect easter bread to have around. Though I fear it wouldn’t quite make it out of my apartment and onto the easter table…I’d be too busy snacking on it!

  19. Nancy

    Your challah looks delicious — I’ve been on the search for a sweeter challah recipe that will work well at Denver’s altitude and will definitely give this one a try. But — “this recipe would be perfect for Easter” — you DO realize how inappropriate and ironic that statement is, right?

  20. TheKitchenLioness

    Monet, you look incredibly beautiful in that stunning blue dress! And I am happy to read that you are taking good care of the two of you by following your inner voice and eating when you are hungry. Your Challah looks perfect, it has a wonderful color and it is nice that your recipe calls for 1/4 cup of honey – I would love to try this with the local honey I bought the other day.
    Stay happy and healthy and have a wonderful weekend!

  21. Brian @ A Thought For Food

    Yeah… I knew you’d make the most adorable pregnant person. You are glowing and I love that. Ok… moving onto this challah. My mom used to make it for shabbat and we’d devour the loaves in a single sitting. I think it’s time for me to face my fears and make this right away.

    Wishing you and Ryan a cozy weekend!

  22. Kathy

    Monet, Thanks for the visit to my blog…it’s very nice to meet you and browse your lovely site! Your Challah is just gorgeous! And, you are a very lovely pregnant lady!! This is such an exciting time…enjoy it!

  23. Amy Tong

    You look gorgeous, thanks for sharing a picture.

    I remember when I was pregnant, I can’t seem to feel full, at all. :) Yes, best way is to listen to your body. How exciting to feel the kick from the baby. This is a beautiful Challah and I can’t wait to make one. :) Take care and have a great weekend.

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  25. zerrin

    This looks so soft! You made me crave for it, I mean the whole loaf! Would love to have it with cheese, jam and butter! Would make an excellent breakfast or snack!

  26. Jenn and Seth

    i have been craving challah, and here you go and post this…so i think that totally means i need to make it :) gorgeous photo Monet, so fun reading about the pregnancy!

  27. Liren

    Monet, you are the most lovely pregnant woman ever! Lucille Amelia is going to be the luckiest little girl, to have a mother so thoughtful and skilled in challah making :) I’m so glad you are nourishing your body and listening to your intuition – I smiled when you mentioned grapefruits because that is what I craved most when I was expecting our daughter – grapefruits every morning (as well as trail mix at night). Our bodies and their cravings know best :)

    Hugs!

  28. Jenny @ BAKE

    this challah looks perfect! I love the sound of your before bed snacks – I wonder if I can get away with eating it even though I’m not pregnant… probably not!

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