My Dad and My Challah

by on August 25, 2013

My first challah.  Looks good, smells good.   How will it taste?

My first challah. Looks good, smells good. How will it taste?

My Dad is not doing too well. So all of us kids and grandkids are visiting him as often as we can, and he’s been on my mind a lot.

When he was healthier, one of my Dad’s passions was cooking for family and friends. But he wasn’t a cook with a large repertoire, rather he specialized in a few signature dishes: huge challahs, gravlox, smoked brisket, tea-smoked duck, turkey (brined and roasted or deep fried), and chopped liver with schmaltz. If he made it, it was amazing.

Last week, as I was making the gravlax he taught me how to make, I started thinking about his challah. I’ve never baked anything from scratch. Even my bake-from-a-box experience is pretty limited, but I started to think that I better learn how to make Dad’s challah before it was too late!

So on a recent visit, I become the owner of a photo-copied challah recipe, and a hand-me-down Zojirushi bread machine.

After posting the above pix on Facebook, I got a few requests for recipes, so here goes. The recipe itself came from a bread machine cookbook. Since all I have a copy of a single page, I can’t tell you if it was the book that came with the bread machine.

Here it is, with my edits.

Dad’s Large (Bread Machine) Challah


  1. 1 1/3 cup water
  2. 2 1/2 eggs for dough
  3. 2 2/3 Tbs vegetable oil
  4. 2 2/3 Tbs sugar
  5. 2 tsp salt
  6. 4 cups bread flour
  7. 2 1/2 tsp yeast
  8. 1/2 beaten egg for wash
  9. sesame seeds


  1. Follow bread machine instructions for making the dough (including the first rise).
  2. Divide dough into 3 strands, and braid* them.
  3. Cover and let rise for 45 minutes
  4. Brush top with beaten egg, and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  5. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes (or until it is golden brown).

Preparation time: 3 hour(s)

Cooking time: 25 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 12

Copyright © 2013.
Recipe by Barbara Feldman.

For instructions on braiding, I went to Shiksa in the Kitchen and followed her instructions on a three-part braid.

So, how did it taste? Great! It was a big hit on Shabbat, and I’ve been assigned challah duty for the upcoming Jewish holidays. But now that I have the basic recipe down, next time I am going to vary the recipe to add a bit more sweetness, and I’m doing the four-part braid!

Thanks, Dad!

P.S. Update Sept 9, 2013: Since that first challah, I’ve been numbering them. Here’s challah #5. I brought it to my Dad’s house for Rosh Hashanah. It’s a traditional raisin round with honey for a sweet new year.

Donna September 18, 2013 at 11:57 am

OH MY WORD! Challah bread is a heaven sent gift. I am from good ‘ole Brooklyn, NY and so many diners sold these large loaves. They were stacked every so elegantly at the counter nearest the register so we would HAVE to buy one on the way out.
The two amazing foods we made with the challah had to be the French toast and the stuffing. My….I am having a drooling memory here.
Where we moved to in PA one is hard pressed to find Jewish families let alone amazing Jewish food. I can travel over the border to upstate NY (Catskills) and get some, but it is a drive.
I think I am going to be making some of this this week. I need to get my Brooklyn on :).
Thanks for sharing.

Joann Woolley August 26, 2013 at 6:14 pm

Props to you in taking on a family tradition! I want to get a bread machine too – it is on my wish list for 2014 cuz I’m not ready to commit just yet. I bet your dad was proud ; )

Barbara Feldman September 9, 2013 at 3:28 pm

Thanks, Joann. Want to see bread #5 (ha ha ha, I’m numbering them!)? This was the one that I brought to my Dad’s house for our Rosh Hashanah family dinner.

Kate - Catching Up With Kate August 26, 2013 at 3:14 pm

That looks delicious! What a wonderful memory with your father and family!

Barbara Feldman September 9, 2013 at 3:36 pm

Thank you, Kate.

Colleen Lanin August 26, 2013 at 10:48 am

Yum! I’m going to share this recipe with my Jewish, bread-machine-fanatic husband!

Barbara Feldman August 26, 2013 at 11:16 am

:) Thanks! Let me know what he thinks. Later today we are trying a chocolate chip version.

laura August 26, 2013 at 9:25 am

OMGoodness I LOOOOOVE Challah. Is there anyway to translate this recipe for those of us who don’t have bread machines? (I love to bake but am new to bread making)

Barbara Feldman August 26, 2013 at 11:02 am

Laura, I found a few resources online. I won’t post a modified recipe unless I’ve tried it myself, but here’s a link that describes it:

The basics are:
1) 1. Combine yeast, water and sugar in a bowl. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes until foamy (like beer).

2. Add everything else (with anything cold or hot added last) and knead for 8-10 minutes.

3. Cover with a dish towel and allow dough to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 to 1 ½ hours.

Cathy Chester August 25, 2013 at 10:08 am

Barbara, That looks so delicious I could almost smell it. What a labor of love. I am sure you made your dad so happy. You are a good daughter….and a great baker! Shabbat Shalom (a bit late).

Barbara Feldman August 25, 2013 at 10:45 am

Thanks, Cathy! And it’s never too late for a sincere shabbat greeting. After all, shabbat is just 6 days away!

Barbara Feldman September 9, 2013 at 3:36 pm

Ohhh… @bloggoneit … I hope this serves as a reminder to get after your mom for those recipes!

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