Let me begin by saying this: Baking beautiful bread at home is possible. Anyone can do it. And with the KitchenAid® Pro Line® Series 7-Qt Bowl Lift Stand Mixer and KitchenAid® Precise Heat Mixing Bowl, the process is made even easier.
I’ve been baking bread for nearly seven years, and while there have been a few trials and errors along the way, it’s still one of my favorite things to bake. The process of mixing, kneading and shaping dough is so fun and even therapeutic, and the end result is something delicious and comforting. Whether it’s cinnamon rolls or challah, whole wheat sandwich bread or bagels, it’s all possible for anyone to make at home.
There are a few tips and tricks I’ve learned in my experiences with baking bread, and I’m excited to share some of them with you today in this classic challah bread recipe. Challah is one of the best types of yeast breads for beginner bakers because it’s made with an “enriched dough” – meaning, the ingredients include fats like eggs and/or oil, milk, butter, sugar, etc. These types of doughs tend to bake up into fluffy, soft, tender loaves you can’t help but devour.
To start, heat your Precise Heat Mixing Bowl to 110°F. Add the water and let it sit for about five minutes to heat up. This temperature is ideal for dissolving and proofing yeast, so we want to make sure the water is ready before we add more ingredients. I love the Precise Heat Mixing Bowl. It makes finding, and maintaining, the right temperature throughout the bread making process incredibly easy.
Stir in the yeast and a healthy pinch of sugar (the sugar helps the yeast proof, as well). Let the mixture sit for five to 10 minutes until the yeast begins to foam on top. If it doesn’t, that means the yeast is old, and you should discard everything and start over with fresher yeast.
Once the yeast is proofed, reduce the temperature on your Precise Heat Mixing Bowl to 90°F (the ideal temperature for proofing dough) and add in the remaining ingredients. Stir everything together with the dough hook until a shaggy dough forms.
Continue to knead the dough with the dough hook on low speed until it comes together into a smooth, soft and elastic dough. You may need to add more flour, about 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough becomes the right consistency. Remove the dough, shape the dough into a ball and place it back in the bowl. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise at 90°F for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours until doubled.
Punch down the dough and divide it into six equal pieces. Roll out each piece into a rope about 16 inches long and 1 inch wide. Gather the ropes together at one end and squeeze to seal the seams.
To braid the dough, take the farthest right rope and carry it over the two ropes next to it, then slide it under the middle rope, then carry it over the last two ropes. Lay the rope down so it is parallel to the rope next to it; it should now be the farthest left rope. Repeat until you have braided the entire loaf, re-centering the loaf as needed as it shifts left.
Gather the ends of the ropes together and tuck under the loaf to seal. Carefully “plump” up the dough into a loaf shape, then transfer it to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle the top of the loaf lightly with flour, then cover it with a clean kitchen towel. Let it rise again for about 1 hour.
Heat the oven to 350°F. Once the loaf is fully risen, brush the tops and sides generously with egg wash. This gives the baked loaf that beautiful dark brown color and golden sheen. Bake the challah for about 35 minutes until deep golden brown. Cool almost completely before slicing.
That’s all it takes to bake beautiful braided challah bread in your home – and you can do it, especially with the help of the KitchenAid® Precise Heat Mixing Bowl.
Be sure to share your take on this Challah Bread recipe with us on Instagram using #MadeWithKitchenAid for a chance to be featured.
Makes 12 servings (1 loaf)
1 cup water
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 packet) active dry yeast
1/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
5 cups all-purpose flour, divided
2 teaspoons salt
2 eggs plus 1 egg yolk (reserve egg white for egg wash)
1/4 cup vegetable oil or melted butter
Attach the KitchenAid® Precise Heat Mixing Bowl to a Pro Line® Series 7-Qt Bowl Lift Stand Mixer. Heat the Precise Heat Mixing Bowl to 110°F. Let sit 5 minutes to preheat, then add water. Let sit 6 minutes to heat water.
Use the dough hook to stir in yeast and 1 pinch sugar (from 1/4 cup sugar). Let sit 5 to 10 minutes until yeast mixture is foamy.
Reduce heat of bowl to 90°F. Add remaining sugar, 4 cups flour and salt. Stir with dough hook to combine. Add eggs and egg yolk. Stir until shaggy dough forms.
Knead dough with dough hook on low speed 6 to 8 minutes, adding just enough remaining flour 1 tablespoon at a time until dough is smooth, soft, elastic and only slightly sticky. Remove dough, shape it into ball and place it back in the Precise Heat Mixing Bowl. Remove bowl from Stand Mixer; cover with lid and let dough rise in mixing bowl at 90°F 1 1/2 to 2 hours until doubled in size.
Punch down dough. Divide into six equal pieces. Roll each piece into 16-by-1-inch rope. Grab ropes together at one end and pinch to seal seams.
To braid dough, take farthest right rope and carry over next two ropes, then slide under middle rope, then carry over last two ropes. Lay rope down so it is parallel to rope next to it; it should now be farthest left rope. Repeat until entire loaf is braided, re-centering loaf as needed as it shifts left.
Gather ends of ropes together and tuck under loaf to seal. Carefully “plump” up dough into loaf shape, then transfer to parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle top of loaf lightly with flour, then cover with clean kitchen towel. Let rise 1 hour until puffy.
Heat oven to 350°F. Whisk reserved egg white with 1 tablespoon water; brush egg wash generously over top and sides of loaf. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking, until loaf is baked through and deep golden brown. Cool on cooling rack almost completely before slicing.
*The Contributor of this post has been compensated by KitchenAid for this post, but this post represents the Contributor’s own opinion.*