Single Loaf Challah Recipe for Kitchenaid Stand Mixer
Most recipes for challah make two loaves, which is way too many for one person. This one is different. It’s a single loaf challah recipe, made in the Kitchenaid.
If you’re not familiar with challah (pronounced like the “ch” in “loch”), it is a sweetened bread that is somewhat similar to a French brioche. The difference is that challah is usually made with vegetable oil instead of butter (so that those keeping kosher can have it with a meat meal). Incidentally, the leftovers make fantastic French toast.
Challah is traditionally served every Friday night as part of the Jewish Sabbath observance. The bread is usually braided, into three, six, or even twelve strands. I read recently that it might be to emphasize unity; another post suggested that three strand represent truth, peace, and justice. Poppy or sesame seeds are manna falling from heaven.
Usually, the loaves are braided and end up long and narrow. However, on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur the loaves are round, to symbolize unity (no beginning and no end), unending blessings, and maybe even “the circle of life.”
This particular recipe was originally by Joan Nathan, which made two loaves. That recipe was then adapted by Deb Perlman (of Smitten Kitchen). Deb’s version was then revised to a single loaf by Jenny at Cuban Reuben and slightly adapted again by me. It’s almost biblical, isn’t it: Joan’s recipe begat Deb’s, Deb’s begat Jenny’s, and Jenny’s begat mine!
I did make a few changes. First, I used instant yeast instead of active dry yeast. And second, I found that I didn’t need four eggs, plus a yolk. Three plus the yolk were plenty.
A delicious single loaf challah recipe, perfect for the high holidays, Shabbat dinner, or just because you want a rich, eggy bread (think brioche's cousin).
1.5 tsp instant yeast (or one packet active dry yeast, which is 2¼ tsp)
1½ tsp plus ¼ cup sugar
¾-1 cup warm water
¼ cup vegetable oil
3 eggs, divided
1 egg yolk
1½ tsp table salt
4 cups flour
Remove the bowl from your stand mixer (preferably a KitchenAid). Pour the yeast, 1½ tsp sugar, and the water into the bowl and stir it all together with a long spoon. Use more water if the weather is dry, and less if it's humid. If you use the instant yeast, you can go to the next step. If you use active dry yeast, let it sit for 10 minutes until the yeast is bubbly and foaming.
Attach the paddle to your mixer. Now add the vegetable oil, two of the eggs (one at a time), the egg yolk, the rest of the sugar, and the salt, and mix that on Speed 2 (KitchenAid) to combine everything together.
Gradually mix in the flour, adding about ½ a cup at a time.
Once the dough forms a solid ball, swap the paddle for the bread hook. Knead about 5-8 minutes. f you don't have a KitchenAid, you can do it by hand, but it will take longer (10-12 minutes).
The dough is kneaded enough when it looks smooth and elastic, and you can pull it without tearing. If it looks shaggy and bristly, add more flour. If it's dry, add more water.
Coat a clean bowl with about a capful of vegetable oil. Add the ball of dough and cover it with plastic. I generally use a plastic bag from the supermarket. A shower cap will work too. Don't wrap it too tightly, you want to leave room for the dough to expand.
Let the dough rise in a warm place for about an hour. Then punch it down with your fist, cover it again, and let it rise for another two hours.
You're now ready to braid the challah. Sprinkle some flour on a counter or board, and sprinkle a bit more on your hands (to keep it from sticking).
Cut the dough into three pieces with a sharp knife. Take each piece and roll it out with your hands into a strand that is about 12 inches long. Pinch the strands together at one end. Then braid the strands together. Once that's done, wrap them all around in a circle. Tuck the ends in underneath the loaf. Transfer the challah to a nonstick cookie sheet.
Crack the last egg and beat it lightly. Brush about half the egg over the bread. Let it sit again, covered, for another hour.
Then brush it again with the rest of the egg.
While the bread is on its final rise, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Once the last rise is finished, and the oven is hot, bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown. If you want, open the oven halfway through the cooking process, and brush the challah again with any remaining egg (this fills in any bare spots as the bread expands).
Single Loaf Challah Recipe Substitutions and Variations
For an extra-sweet new year, mix 1 cup of raisins into the dough before you braid it.
Or, add 1/4 honey to the recipe
Top the challah with sesame seeds, poppy seeds, or salt