Challah from  Makes 4 loaves. Recipe may be halved or doubled.


2 tablespoons instant yeast, or 50 grams fresh compressed yeast, or three envelopes.

35 oz. or 1 liter of water.

1 cup sugar

4 teaspoons salt

3/4 cup oil

4 eggs

9 cups flour for the sponge and another 4 to 6 cups for later. Use white, whole wheat, or a mixture.

Instant yeast can be mixed right in, but fresh or compressed yeast needs to be “proofed” with a quarter cup of warm water (measure the full amount, then pour off the quarter cup) and a pinch of sugar.

Stir all of the ingredients including 9 cups of the flour.  Let the sponge rise on the counter, or in the refrigerator overnight. The sponge is ready when it’s bubbly. On a hot and humid day the dough can be ready within an hour. On a cool day it will take up to two hours. Longer is fine too.

Stir the batter and add about 4 cups of flour. Now rest 20-30 minutes before kneading.

Stretch and rest method:

  1. Knead for 10 strokes, let the dough rest for 15 minutes, and then repeat twice for a total of 3 sets of kneading and resting.
  2. After another 15 minutes, do a few stretch and folds. Then I let the dough rise until doubled in volume.
  3. Then do the same old shaping and second rise that kneaders do. Rest 20-30 minutes.
  4. Do a few stretch and folds, then let the dough rest 45 minutes, then repeat for a total of 3 stretch and fold then rest sessions.
  5. After the last rest after the final stretch and fold, shape it and let it do the regular second rise.

After kneading or stretching, you can put it into the refrigerator or shape it right away.

Or roll out part of the dough with a rolling pin, spread with a thin layer of oil, sprinkle sugar, cinnamon and nuts, then roll it up into a cake.

Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle sesame or poppy seeds on top.

I like to bake braids into loaf pans, because moist dough spreads out in a flat pan.

Bake at 180 C. or 350 F. The challah is done when the bottom is medium brown; when you tap it you should hear a hollow sound. Remove from pan and cool on a baking rack.