Woven Round Challah

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Raisin Challah
05 Sep 2007
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Yes, that’s correct, a GREAT challah recipe that always works and really does not have eggs in it! If you prefer a good egg challah recipe, visit www.TasteofChallah.com. However, take it from me; this challah recipe is worth the time and effort, it has amazing results!


This is from chapter 2, “Seven Steps to Amazing Challah”. Presented here are steps 2 through 3. See below for braiding directions (from Chapter 3)

Step Two: Making the Dough

Always Perfect No-Egg Challah



  1. Sift the flour. This can be done the night before and placed in a large garbage bag to save time, although you can certainly sift the flour the same day you plan to make the dough. Close the bag tightly until ready for use.
  2. Boil a few cups of water. In one small pareve bowl or measuring cup, put 1 cup boiling water and 1 cup tap water together. Test with your finger to make sure it is very warm but not boiling. Water that is too hot kills the yeast activity.
  3. Add ¼ cup of the sugar to this water and then the fresh yeast. Cover this small bowl with a plate and set it aside for 10 minutes to make sure the yeast starts bubbling. This means the yeast is activating. If the yeast doesn’t bubble, it means the yeast is not good; discard, and start again.
  4. In a large mixer bowl (if you have a mixer; if not, you can also do this by hand), place in this order:
    the rest of the sugar
    2 cups warm water
    8 cups flour
  5. Mix all very well until a thin sort of batter forms. After the yeast mixture has bubbled, add this also and mix again.
  6. Now start adding the remaining flour slowly, one or two cups at a time, until it is all mixed in.
  7. By this point, all of the ingredients except for the remaining water should be mixed in. The total amount of water used so far is about 4 cups.
  8. Keep adding a quarter cup of water at a time to the dough until a pliable, smooth, and non-sticky consistency is reached.
  9. If the dough is too firm, you need to add a bit more water and also 2 more Tablespoons of oil. If the dough is too soft or wet, add a bit more flour, even if you have to go over the 17-cup limit somewhat. In general, you will use a total of about 5 cups of water. Climates, different flours, and different yeasts all make a vast difference in this stage.
  10. Grease your hands or a large plastic spatula with a fine layer of oil. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix the dough at the very bottom of the bowl to ensure that all the flour is well mixed into your dough, and that it is uniform in texture all around. If there is excess flour on the bottom of the bowl, you may need to add a bit more oil to the bottom of the bowl before remixing. Use a little oil rather than water in order to keep the dough from becoming too sticky from using water.
  11. IN GENERAL, in order to keep your dough pliable, non-sticky, and smooth, use small amounts of oil on the outside of the dough, NOT extra flour. Too much flour dries out the dough in the long run, whereas the fine layer of oil keeps it from sticking and makes it easier to work with, helps it rise better, and enhances its overall taste.

Step Three: The First Rising

When the dough is ready and before you set it to rise, take challah. See the section on the Halachos of Separating Challah, page 184-199 for more details.

  1. Cover the bowl with the dough inside – do not remove it from the mixer yet — and let it rise in the bowl for 10 minutes.
  2. Uncover and knead, with a drop more oil, for another 5 minutes.
  3. For added smoothness, you can cover the dough one more time for 10 minutes, and then knead by hand the final time for another 5minutes until smooth and workable.
    Just look at how much nicer that same messy, ugly dough appears now!
  4. Grease your hands lightly and remove the dough from the mixing bowl.
  5. At this point, it is appropriate to do the mitzvah of “separating challah”, if your dough is large enough. See the laws of Separating Challah on pages 187-100 at the end of this book.
  6. If you are not shaping challahs until later on in the day, or if you chose to make the dough at night in order to shape and bake it the next morning, place the dough in a very large garbage bag and remove all the air from the bag. Tie the ends of the bag together, giving the dough plenty of space to rise, and place the bag in the fridge. Remove from the fridge 30–45 minutes before you want to be ready to shape the challahs.
  7. If you are shaping right away, leave the dough in the garbage bag, or covered well with plastic, on the counter for one hour before shaping. It will rise at least double its size.
  8. When ready to shape, prepare the table or working surface by cleaning it well and then smearing it with a very fine layer of oil. No extra flour is needed at this point!
  9. Now you are ready to shape the dough. Prepare your hands by coating them with a very thin amount of oil.

Woven Round Challah Directions:


Round challahs are most traditionally used for the Jewish New Year, Rosh HaShanah. At the beginning of our new year, to usher in a sweet and delectable judgment, many people have the custom to serve sweetened foods, and challah is no exception to this rule. For this reason, Rosh HaShanah challahs are often sweeter than those served the rest of the year. Some add more sugar than they normally do to the dough, others add raisins to the dough, still others do both. I enjoy adding all this to my challahs, but with another twist too; after they are egg-washed and ready to be baked, I sprinkle each with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. The smell they emit while baking is absolutely heavenly, and the taste is out of this world. Truly a holiday treat!

To begin with the shaping of these special challahs, make the strands by rolling out each ball of dough with rolling pin.

Roll up into logs towards you and set aside for 10 minutes on your work table, under a plastic disposable tablecloth so they won’t dry out. They will have risen somewhat.

Take your risen dough strands
and roll them out gently as long as possible.


When you go to shape the dough, the raisins will all be well hidden inside and will be delicious when the challah is sliced open.
If you intend to add raisins to your Rosh HaShanah challahs, place them all around the flat piece of rolled out dough and then roll it up.
Do this with four pieces of dough until they are all about the same length. Lay the pieces out in front of you, tic-tac-toe style.
Each strand should be placed in opposite directions; one side is over/under, the next row is then under/over. There should now be 4 sets of 2 strands each coming out from the four sides of the woven middle, one under and one over in each set.
From each set, pick up the one that was “under” and pull it over its partner, thereby placing each of these “unders” over their corresponding partner, in a clockwise rotation. Practically speaking, this means that the left piece of each set will be placed over the right piece of each set.
When this rotation is done, work in the opposite direction, clockwise. What was formerly the right piece, will now go over the left piece in the counter clockwise direction; the pieces are not yet next to each other as they are still apart from the first rotation; pull them close to each other and bring the right piece, i.e. the one you did not touch in the first rotation, over the left piece of the neighboring strand.
After this second rotation is done, do a third one, now going back in the other direction.
Do one more opposite rotation if you have enough dough left.


To finish, pinch each set of two ends together firmly, then bring all four sets together towards the center.
Now comes the really fun part: carefully flip over your challah and look!


You now have a beautiful, woven, round challah.



Leave to rise on a large baking tray that has been lined with parchment baking paper. Cover the challahs loosely with disposable plastic tablecloths while rising.

After 20 minutes of rising, turn on your oven to preheat at 400 F / 200 C, as most ovens take 20 minutes to reach full temperature.

After the full 40 minutes of rising time, glaze your challahs with egg glaze and place them directly into the hot oven, for optimum baking results.

Bake for 35-40 minutes until the top and bottom are golden.

For more tips and recipes and steps, be sure to visit us online at www.TasteofChallah.com to see the interactive book, flip through the pages yourself, and view the video preview.

These recipes were taken from the new cookbook, A Taste of Challah (Feldheim Publishers, 2007) by Tamar Ansh. It is a photographic guide to baking and shaping beautiful challahs, and includes many other healthy and interesting bread types as well. Visit www.TasteofChallah.com to see the interactive book online.

Tamar Ansh is an author, freelance recipe developer, and food columnist. Her food articles have appeared in Jewish publications worldwide. Her other publications include: Splitting the Sea (Targum Press); Let’s Say Amen!, an illustrated children’s book (Feldheim Publishers); and her first cookbook, which is both gluten free and kosher for Passover, A Taste of Tradition (Feldheim Publishers).

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.