Classic challah is an egg-y bread that’s a bit like brioche, but it doesn’t contain butter or milk. It’s naturally dairy-free and pareve, and eaten on Shabbat (the day of rest in Judaism), Jewish holidays (except Passover), and celebrations, such as at weddings or Bar Mitzvahs. The recipe below is a time-tested challah that was shared with us by Kosher.com.
Can You Make Egg-Free & Dairy-Free Challah?
There is such a thing as egg-free challah, but the result has a texture more like French bread than brioche. For egg-free and vegan challah, simply omit the eggs and add more water as needed to create a soft, tacky dough. Or you can see my Egg Substitute Guide to choose an alternative that suits this recipe and your dietary needs. For the Egg Wash, simply use 3 tablespoons dairy-free milk beverage plus the 1 teaspoon sugar.
If you confuse eggs with dairy, you’ore not alone. See this post: Are Eggs Dairy?
Special Diet Notes: Classic Challah
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, nut-free, peanut-free, soy-free, and vegetarian. See my notes above for egg-free and vegan options.
- ¼ cup Gefen instant dry yeast
- 1 cup warm water + 4 cups boiling water, divided
- 1 tablespoon + 1½ cups sugar, divided
- 1½ tablespoons salt
- 5 pounds bread flour (they use King Arthur)
- 1¼ to 1½ cups oil
- 1 to 3 eggs, beaten (see the post above for Egg-Free options)
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon water
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Sesame seeds
- Everything bagel seasoning blend
- Poppy seeds
- Cinnamon sugar
- Minced garlic
- Pour the 1 cup warm water into a large mixing bowl and stir in the yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar. Place in a warm spot for 10 minutes, to allow the yeast to proof (tiny bubble or foam should form at the surface).
- Pour the 4 cups boiling water into a large bowl and stir in the 1½ cups sugar and salt until completely dissolved.
- Sift the flour into the mixing bowl the with the yeast mixture. Add the water-sugar mixture, oil, and your desired amount of eggs (use more eggs for a richer and denser challah). Stir until the dough begins to come together. Then knead it for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Coat the dough with a little oil to prevent it from sticking, and lightly cover the dough with plastic wrap. Let it rest in a warm place for 45 minutes to 3 hours.
- Divide the dough into five pieces. Each piece will yield one loaf of challah. Further divide each piece into the desired amount of strands for braiding. If needed, add oil rather than flour at this point to make the strands. Braid the dough and the loaves on greased baking sheets.
- Let the challah loaves rise until doubled, approximately 1 hour.
- When the dough is risen, preheat your oven to 350°F.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the egg wash ingredients until the egg is well beaten.
- Gently brush the egg mixture onto the top of each challah loaf, and sprinkle the loaves with any of the optional toppings (if using).
- Place the challah into your hot oven, and use a spray bottle to spray water into the hot oven to create steam. Bake for 45 minutes, but repeat the water spray at the 10 minute mark, and rotate the pans at the 30 minute mark. You can also reapply the egg wash during baking to any spots that look dry.
- When you remove the challah from the oven, spray each loaf with water to help retain moisture. Immediately remove the loaves to wire racks to cool.