Serves 2 loaves

This recipe is from Modern Jewish Baker: Challah, Babka, Bagels & More by Shannon Sarna.

The high altitude really seems to mess with this recipe. I’ve had trouble with the dough being super sticky and not coming together. Sometimes I can save it by adding an extra half a cup or so of flour, but not always. If you’re at altitude, good luck.


  1. In a small bowl, place the yeast, 1/2 teaspoon sugar, and lukewarm water. Stir gently to mix. Allow to sit 5 to 10 minutes, until it becomes foamy on top.
  2. In a large bowl or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, mix together 1 1/2 cups of the flour, salt, and 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar. Add the water-yeast mixture and oil to flour. Mix thoroughly.
  3. Add another 1 cup of the flour and eggs and mix until smooth. Switch to the dough hook attachment if you are using a stand mixer.
  4. Add another 1 1/2 to 2 cups of the flour and mix thoroughly. Then remove dough from the bowl and place on a floured surface. Knead the remaining 1/2 cup flour into dough, continuing to knead for about 5 minutes.
  5. Place dough in a greased bowl and cover with a damp towel. Allow to rise at least 3 hours.
  6. Divide the dough in two and braid the challahs into desired shape.
  7. Place braided challah on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or silicone baking mat. Allow the challah to rise another 45 to 60 minutes, or until you can see the size has grown and the challah seems light. This step is very important to ensure a light and fluffy challah. Preheat over to 375°F while the dough rises.
  8. In a small bowl beat 2 egg yolks with 1 teaspoon water. Brush the egg wash liberally over the challah. Sprinkle with sea salt, sesame seeds, and/or poppy seeds if desired.
  9. Bake 24 to 26 minutes, or until the color is golden.