In Jewish kitchens all over the world challah bread (sometimes spelled chollah) is the traditional braided loaf made for the weekly celebration of the Sabbath on Friday evenings. I am very grateful to Sigal Ivry who inspired me with her beautiful recipe to create a Thermomix recipe which I published as Chollah bread in my first cookbook Fast and Easy Cooking in 2006. It has received much positive feedback since then!
This challah is tender, slightly sweet and truly delicious. It is similar to Swiss milk bread, French brioche and Greek tsoureki. The tenderness is due to milk, butter and eggs which all enrich the dough, and although these extras make the dough quite sticky, Thermomix enables you to mix and knead it effortlessly.
For Jewish families who ‘keep Kosher’ and make a dairy free challah to serve with a meat meal, it’s traditional to use water instead of milk in the challah dough, and to use oil instead of butter. I like to use 65 g olive oil or coconut oil to replace the 50 g butter, as that extra bit of oil adds the tenderness that otherwise is provided by the milk.
Here is my newly updated and simplified recipe, making a large challah loaf to satisfy the demands of my family for “more, please!” I hope this wonderful challah creates lots of happy moments and enjoyment at the table for you and your family too.
This recipe is suitable for Thermomix TM6, TM5 and TM31.
- Warm milk, honey, yeast, 1 of the eggs and 50 g butter 1 min/37°C/speed 2; meanwhile, grease a large bowl with 1 tsp butter and set bowl aside.
- Add flour and sea salt, then knead 5 min/dough setting, remembering to stay with your Thermomix while it’s doing the heavy work of kneading.
- Transfer dough to buttered large bowl, cover bowl with a damp tea towel (kitchen towel) and leave to rise in fridge at least 5 hours (or up to 24 hours).
- Stir risen dough thoroughly with TM spatula to release air, then divide dough into 3 portions (see 3rd tip), roll each into a long sausage, grease a large baking tray with remaining 1 tsp butter then plait (braid) the dough loosely, tucking ends underneath after last braid – see step photos. Leave plaited chollah to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, approx. 1-2 hours.
- Preheat oven to 220°C without fan/200°C with fan/425°F/gas 7/Aga roasting oven; meanwhile briskly mix remaining egg in a bowl with a fork to make ‘egg wash’.
- Use a pastry brush to gently apply egg wash to risen chollah, then sprinkle with poppy seeds. Bake approx. 20-30 minutes until light golden brown – loaf should sound hollow when tapped on its base. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely, then slice and serve.