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Challah (Sabbath Bread)

By Republished with permission from the book "Sabbath: The Gift of Time" by Bonnie Saul Wilks
In Jewish history, challah is an essential part of the Friday evening (Erev Shabbat) meal. It symbolizes manna, the special food that God provided for the Israelites during their years of wandering in the desert. It is traditional to have two loaves at the Sabbath table, because God provided enough manna on the sixth day for the seventh. Sugar or honey is also added to make it an even more special treat!


  • ½ cup oil
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 packages dried yeast dissolved in 1 cup warm water
  • 1 cup additional warm water
  • 8-10 cups flour


  • Mix the ingredients-putting the oil into the bowl first and then measure and add the honey-using the same measuring cup in which you measured the oil. This little trick allows the honey to run smoothly out of the measuring cup.
  • Add the remaining ingredients in the order given.
  • Knead for approximately 10 minutes and transfer the dough into an oiled bowl.
  • Let the dough rise in a large bowl that has been coated with oil. When transferring the dough into the oiled bowl, be sure to turn it on all sides so that it gets a thin coating of oil.
  • Place the bowl in a warm place until the dough is double in size, punch it down, and knead a bit more.
  • Place the dough back in the bowl and let it rise a second time. This should take about one hour.
  • Punch down and cut into sizes desired. For two medium loaves, divide into 6 strains.
  • Make two loaves of three braided strains.
  • When the breads are shaped, brush them generously with egg yolk, melted butter, and honey, and sprinkle either poppy seeds or sesame seeds on the loaves.
  • Bake in 350° oven for approximately 25-30 minutes or until the challah sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.