The dare this month: Challah!

Beautiful, light and yummy

The Daring Bakers Challenge for May took me by surprise and a little bit of relief – we had to bake the Jewish bread Challah this month – surprise because I really wasn’t expecting bread and relief because I’d just cracked the code to baking amazing bread at home. But it was a challenge nonetheless; as I read the recipe given to us by Ruth from The Crafts of Mommyhood I realized that the original recipe for a Challah calls for eggs. My heart sank a little. I quickly grabbed my notebook and pen and scribbled some of the substitutes I could use – I’m not a fan of egg replacer that you get in the supermarkets so I prefer using something else. While going through the Internet for a few recipes of eggless challah, I came across one that used flaxseed powder, the author said that this gave the bread a light, delicious crumb. The pictures looked good too and that’s when I decided that it was good ol’ flaxseed to the rescue.
I’ll admit that even though my confidence levels, when it comes to baking bread, have steadily risen I was still a little nervous while making this braided bread. So I decided to keep things simple and go in for a 3-strand braid for the Challah. Along with the flazseed powder I also added some sunflower seeds to the batter. I was wondering if I should use chocolate chips too but then I decided to let the nutty flavours shine so I topped the bread with a dusting of sesame seeds, watermelon seeds and some raisins, just to enhance the flavours a little I brushed the bread with some honey. 
The Challah, sideways
The result? A moist but light crumb with wonderfully nutty flavours. The only thing I was a bit disappointed in was that the bread didn’t brown as much I’d have liked it to but I’m guessing that’s because I didn’t use milk/melted butter to glaze the bread, like I normally do.
Honey and raisin Challah 
2 ½ cups of all-purpose flour
2 ¼ tsp of active dry yeast
½ cup of warm water
3 tbsp + 1 tsp of sugar
3 tbsp of raisins
2 tbsp of milk
1 tbsp each of sunflower seeds and watermelon seeds
2 tbsp of flaxseed + 6tbsp of water, ground into a paste
3 tbsp of vegetable oil + extra for greasing
2 tbsp of honey + extra for brushing
Salt to taste
Dissolve the 1tsp of sugar in the warm water, add the yeast to this and stir well until it has dissolved somewhat. Cover and keep it aside for 10 minutes. The yeast should turn frothy, which proves that it is alive, if not you need to discard this and start again.
In a mixing bowl put the all-purpose flour and salt together and combine well. Now make a well in the center and add the yeast, milk, sugar, flax seed paste and sunflower seeds. Knead the dough well for about 10 minutes until it begins to come together. Cover with a damp cloth and keep it aside for about 2 hours until it has doubled in size. 
Remove the dough from the bowl, place it on a floured surface and punch it down. Add the honey, some of the raisins and continue to knead for a while. Now divide the dough into three equal portions and roll out each of them into long ropes. Use these ropes and form a braid. 
Braiding the bread
Dot some more raisins, seeds and brush some honey on this loaf. Place the loaf on a greased baking tray, cover with a damp cloth and keep in corner and allow it to rise again for 30 minutes to an hour. 
Flecks of brown and white: The honey and the sesame
After this is done, place the loaf in a pre-heated oven and bake for 30-40 minutes until it is done, you will know this when you tap the center of the loaf and it sounds hollow. 
Side profile of the baked Challah
Let the loaf cool down completely before cutting into slices. Serve plain with just some warm butter.
Size wise!
  • The flax seed makes the loaf very light, its quite unbelievable because I’ve seen this texture only in breads with eggs before.
  • You can stuff the Challah with any savoury mixture too, spicy potatoes is always a good idea. But go easy on the honey if you’re planning to go savoury.
  • Instead of making a straight loaf, you can join the ends of the braid to form a roll or a wreath. 
Close-up of the baked gorgeousness

Because of all the flax seed in this bread I’m sending this off to Show me your hits: Iron rich food at Julie’s space


  • Unknown May 29, 2012 at 2:20 am

    Looks super yum Renuka….lovely idea to use pumpkin and sunflower seeds…I agree the bread was just awesome. Jayanthi(

  • Spice up the Curry May 29, 2012 at 11:27 am

    bread baked perfectly. nice one

  • Square Meals May 29, 2012 at 11:49 am

    Nice looking bread. Lovely looking braid 🙂

  • Priya May 29, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    Challah looks awesome and prefectly baked.

  • Shobha May 30, 2012 at 7:00 pm

    Nice the name you have given to the bread.

  • Achu's Amma's Kitchen May 31, 2012 at 3:13 am

    awesome and nice name also

  • Turmeric n Spice May 31, 2012 at 8:21 am

    Wow challah with flax seed. Interesting


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