Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Four Braid Challah

Challah braiding is one of those things that people can get very passionate about. Do you make your challah using three, four, or six strands? Do you bake your challah on baking sheets or in oval shaped challah pans? Water or egg? Fresh yeast or dry?

I make a four-braid challah, and I bake my challah on the heaviest baking sheets I can get my hands on. But I confess that I don't feel really passionate about my technique. When my eleven-year-old daughters braid the challah for me (which is almost every batch) one of them does it my way, and the other one prefers a three-strand braid.

You can read my challah recipe here. Tonight's topic is braiding, though. I asked Sarah and Malkie, my wonderfully helpful eleven-year-old twin daughters, to walk us through the process while I snapped away. Here's our lesson.

Step 1: Make your favorite challah dough. My recipe, for a sweet eggy challah, is here.

Step 2: Divide your challah into even portions. I make six challahs out of five pounds of flour.

Step 3: Divide each portion of dough once again into four even portions.You don't need to bring out the measuring scale, but do try to make them as even as possible.
One portion of dough, divided into four even pieces.

Step 4:  Roll each portion of dough into a long rope that is not at all lumpy. (My daughters do a much better job at this than I do. I rush this part and mine come out looking like a snake who just feasted on whole eggs.) We make ours about 12 inches long but you can make them longer if you like long and skinny challah, or shorter if you prefer yours more wide and squattish. 

Sarah's delicate hands rolling the dough into ropes.

Step 5: Once you have four ropes that are pretty even in length, line them up next to each other and pinch them together at the top.

Step 6: Take strand 1 and put it over strand 2, then under strand 3, and then over strand 4.

Step 7: Next, take strand 2 (which is now the first in line) and put it over strand 3, under strand 4, and over strand 1.

Steps 8 till whatever: Keep at it until you've worked your way through the entire length of each of the four strands.

Pinch the ends together tightly.

Finally, let it rise and brush with egg as directed by your recipe.

Malkie's challahs all in a row (these are three-strand braids)

Bake as directed.

See my post on Yeast Spotting.

Braiding on FoodistaBraiding


  1. These are beautiful, really good job. A lot of patience goes into properly doing the braid.

  2. Your braiding looks wonderful.I came across your site from the foodieblogroll and I'd love to guide Foodista readers to your site. I hope you could add this braiding widget at the end of this post so we could add you in our list of food bloggers who blogged about how to braid breads,Thanks!

  3. Thanks, Medifast. All credit goes to my daughters for the magnificent braiding!
    Alisa, thanks for letting me know about the braiding page on Foodista. I've added the widget.

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  5. Rivki, very nice job with the challah. I think I do my four braid a little differently. I do it like a six braid, but just with four strands, if that makes any sense . . . .

  6. Pragmaticattic: thanks for the comment! I know just what you mean. I have seen four braid instructions that are more like the six braid technique. I like this one because its simple enough for my 11year olds, but I think your technique results in a really attractive challah.


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