A beautiful Torah - Shaped Challah Recipe
Updated: Sep 28
Chag Simchat Torah Sameach to you all 💙 Jews Of NY team.
Cheryl Holbert’s Nomad Bakery signature Challah recipe:
(Makes two 1 lb challot)
This egg and honey challah is epitome of what we’ve come to know as “traditional challah,” light and fragrant with a familiar, satisfying “taffy pull” upon breaking.
100g bread flour
10g instant or active dry yeast*
150g warm water
*If using active dry yeast, first dissolve in warm water with a pinch of sugar and let foam for about 5-10 minutes before adding the rest of the flour. If using instant yeast, simply combine the 100g bread flour, 10g yeast and 150g warm water and let rest 20-30 minutes until the mixture begins to swell and a few small bubbles appear.
2 large eggs plus 50g more water
100g vegetable or olive oil
15g sea salt
500+g bread flour
Whisk eggs, additional water, oil and honey into the preferment. Add the 500g flour and salt and integrate until your “shaggy mass” becomes cohesive. I like to mix with my hands so I can test the hydration and developing firmness of the dough. It should lose its stickiness and begin to bounce back as you work it. Knead well for 5-10 minutes, until the dough becomes smooth and extensible. Let rise (this step is called the bulk fermentation) 1.5 to 2 hours at 68-70 degrees room temperature (or overnight in the refrigerator, deflating the dough at least once several hours later).
Divide to desired size and number of pieces for strands. Pre-shape strands by pressing each piece into a rectangle and rolling up on itself to create a cylinder shape. Dust very lightly with flour and let rest for 20-30 minutes covered with plastic wrap until dough is relaxed.
Roll strands under your palms to desired lengths. Braid each challah without pulling strands too tightly so the dough has room to expand during the final proof.
Let the shaped challot proof for about 45 minutes until it doesn’t bounce back when lightly pressed with a damp finger.
Brush your challot with egg wash in the direction of the braiding and bake at 350 degrees about 30 min or to internal temp of 195F. Rotate halfway through for even baking.
Cheryl Holbert AKA Nomad Bakery is a baker and teacher who integrates her love of challah making with techniques and elements from her artistry and skill as a tapestry weaver. Her challah designs have received acclaim at the Fete du Pain in Paris, won the Tiptree World Bread Awards USA Showstopper, and been featured in numerous online and print publications and videos.
Cheryl was named one of the Top Ten Bread Bakers in North America by Dessert Professional Magazine and creates an international array of artisan bread for her local New Hampshire community.
A passionate and supportive teacher, she offers bread-making classes online, as well as on-site at her cottage business Nomad Bakery in Derry, NH. Cheryl also travels for private teaching engagements and offers workshops for community groups, in addition to being a guest instructor for the King Arthur Baking School in Norwich, VT.