Sharing Our Stories Through Food: Challah

Submitted by Samantha Clague

As a young child, I was unaware that I was Jewish.  I was introduced to Judaism in 5th grade and was completely enamored.  Since my family  was entirely unaffiliated and knew nothing about Judaic observance, I was completely thrilled to find out that the family challah recipe was passed down to my aunt.  She then shared the “secret” recipe.  Now I have passed down the recipe to my daughter and we both bake challah for Shabbos.   It is a beautiful and sweet reminder that  my family is connected to the Torah and the prior generations through the enduring mitzvah of challah.


  • 1 pgk yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 ¼ cup very warm water (not boiling)
  • 2 eggs
  • 4-5 cups flour
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • ⅓ cup soft margarine/oil
  • 1 egg for glaze


  1. Combine yeast, 1 ½ cup flour, salt and sugar in a mixing bowl. Mix well and then add hot water and beat until smooth.
  2. Mix in butter and eggs (look for bubbles to ensure yeast is good).
  3. Gradually add remaining flour to make soft dough (slightly sticky).
  4. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead until dough is smooth and elastic.
  5. Place in a greased bowl and butter on top of dough. Cover with cloth and let rise for 1-1 ½ hours.
  6. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead lightly. Divide into 3 equal portions.
  7. Take one portion of dough and divide into 4 strands and braid (pick up the strand on the far left and put over the second, under the third and over the forth (like a weave). Repeat process from left to right).
  8. Cover and let rise for 1-1 ½ hours.
  9. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  10. Paint blended egg for glaze over challos and bake at 350 degrees for 22-25 minutes (until bread is golden brown and sounds hollow when thumped with a spoon).