Shabbat Challah Bread (with video)

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Ema Ljuba, my Bubbe on my father's side, is the matriarch of the Jewish half of my family. She lives in Martha's vineyard, but fortunately she comes to visit us every two years and we can see her when we head to the east coast.

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Recently, Ema Ljuba was in town for no more than 48 hours, and my children have been asking her almost every day since. It has that kind of lasting impact on kids and adults! Effervescent, charismatic, cheerful and always smiling from ear to ear, Ema Ljuba is the most magical grandmother in the world.

After weeks and weeks of having to tell Asher that Ema Ljuba was not here, I was finally able to say "Ema Ljuba's children are here!" when two of her seven children visited us from Berkeley, California. Aunt Sabrina (on the far left next to my mother and Aunt Patsy), also known as "Sabi D", was more than capable of filling in some of the gaps that Ema Ljuba had left behind.

Of course, in our family, that always means cooking together. Sabrina's visit took place on Friday night, so we ended up spending the day together preparing an amazing Shabbat dinner.

Luckily for me, Sabrina was finally able to teach me how to make my Ema Ljuba's famous challah bread. I have some of the earliest and most wonderful memories celebrating Saturday with them as a child during our frequent visits to Berkeley.

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What is challah bread?

It is a bread that is used in Jewish cuisine for ceremonies such as Shabbat or the most important festivals.

After blessing the bread, my grandfather Daddy Leo would tear pieces of the homemade challah bread and literally throw them on the table to all the children in the room. To this day, we do not believe in cutting challah. We ripped it up and threw it away, like Papa Leo did.

What does challah taste like?

It tastes like you're eating brioche bread.

If you've never baked homemade bread before, I urge you to try this foolproof recipe. Believe me, if I am baking bread (yeast!), I can assure you that anyone can do it.

A HUGE baking tip: Admittedly, I don't love the giant mess that baking bread can create in the kitchen. Turns out my aunt Sabrina doesn't either. The solution? All kneading can be done in a stand mixer with a dough hook! We all use and love the classic KitchenAid stand mixer, so if you don't have one, you should consider adding it to your vacation wish list.

After our evening with Sabrina, my sisters and I have promised to celebrate Shabbat dinners as a family more often. We are going to cook together, drink wine, light the candles and throw pieces of homemade challah bread.

Although we were able to buy challah bread at a local bakery, Sabrina made a good comment that I will not soon forget: nothing beats a house that smells like freshly baked bread.

Forks are not required.

Create round loaves:

From this recipe, round loves can be made as required by traditional holidays.

Do you let the dough rise for two hours after braiding?

I've done it both ways and it's good either way. 🙂

How long do you let the dough rise?

It is until it doubles, so it depends on the temperature of your room, but usually 2 hours works!

Use of yeast:

Yes, 3 tablespoons is a lot of yeast, but this recipe makes two great breads!

Use of sugar in the Jalá bread:

People like why sugar is used in Challah bread. The reason it is needed is that sugar aids in yeast testing.

Other uses for Challah bread:

Challah's leftovers are a perfect French toast. Check out this challah French toast recipe for more details!

📖 Recipe

Shabbat Challah Bread (With Video)

A tasty, fool-proof, oil-free recipe for your Jewish Sabbath. This recipe was broadcast to share from my Bubbe and includes a video.

Preparation time: 4 hours Cook time 30 minutes Total time 4 hours 30 minutes

Servings2 breads Calories 167kcal


  • 1 1/2 cups to 2 cups of warm water
  • 3 tablespoons dry activated yeast
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 6 cups plus 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • 4 large eggs (smoothies)
  • 1/2 cup oil or melted butter
  • poppy seeds or sesame seeds to cover
  • 1 beaten egg


  • In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast with 1 tablespoon of sugar in warm water; set aside.
  • In a separate large bowl, mix 6 cups of flour, 1/2 cup of sugar and salt.
  • Add beaten eggs and dissolved yeast water and sugar to large bowl of flour.
  • Add oil or melted butter and mix well with a wooden spoon. Once all of the dough sticks, flip over a floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes, adding that last cup of flour as needed to form a smooth, flexible shiny dough.
  • Grease a large bowl, and then place the dough in a bowl by turning it over to make sure it is covered with the oil. Cover with a towel and allow the dough to rise until it doubles in bulk.
  • Knock down, knead once or twice, and then divide the dough in half.
  • Divide each half into 3 strands (or 4 or 6 depending on how intricate your bread braid will be).
  • Place each twisted bar on a greased baking sheet (cooking spray works well), cover with a dry towel, and allow to grow a second time until the loaves are twice the size.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush each loaf with a beaten egg, sprinkle poppy seeds or sesame seeds if desired.
  • Bake for about 30 minutes or until bread is golden on the surface.



Calories: 167kcal | Carbohydrates: 26.9g | Protein: 4.5g | Fat: 4.5g | Saturated Fat: 2.5g | Polyunsaturated fats: 2g | Cholesterol: 48mg | Sodium: 303 mg | Fiber: 0.6g | Sugar: 5.2g

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