Mom's sweet challah bread

By Amy Rosen
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“It’s like cake!” is the standard exclamation whenever someone tries my mom’s challah for the first time. Now it’s a bit of a family joke to be the first one to shout it out at Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Over the decades, my mom has become rightly famous for her large, round, sugar- topped loaves.  She, along with  her  friend  Marlene,  makes  challahs  for about 20 households of family and friends who now expect this annual gift. Mom and Marlene wouldn’t have it any other way.




  • 1 (7 gram) package quick-rise instant yeast
  • 1/2 cup sugar, divided
  • 2-3/4 cups warm water, divided
  • 9 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil, plus a drizzle for bowl


  • 1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar


  1. For the dough, in a stand mixer with a dough hook, combine the yeast with one teaspoon sugar and 1/4 cup warm water. Let stand until frothy, about ten 
  2. Slowly add the nine cups flour, the remaining sugar and the salt to the bowl, then add the egg, oil and remaining two and a half cups warm water. Mix at low speed for three to five minutes, until it comes together. Increase the speed to medium and knead for seven to eight minutes, until the dough is elastic and no longer sticky.
  3. Place the dough in a large well-oiled bowl, turning the dough over to make sure it’s fully coated in oil, and cover with a tea towel. Let stand for one hour, until doubled in size.
  4. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
  5. Dust the counter with flour and punch the dough down. Divide into two equal portions, then roll each piece into a very thick rope and coil it around itself a couple of times, starting with the top tucked in and then tucking the bottom of the rope under each loaf, sort of like a squat beehive. Place each loaf on a prepared baking sheet. Cover with tea towels and let rise for another one and a half hours, until doubled in size.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Brush the egg yolk and water mixture all over the loaves. Sprinkle generously with brown sugar and pat the surface to make sure it sticks.
  7. Bake the loaves one at a time, until golden brown and cooked through, about 35–40 minutes. When done, the loaves should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

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Kosher Style

This recipe appears in Kosher Style (© 2019)

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