This challah was originally a fabulous focaccia bread recipe from Lynn Kutner from the now-closed Center for Kosher Culinary Arts. I altered it to make a airy, savory challah, perfect to wow guests at Friday night dinner. And I mean, you will really wow them! The challah is best the same day it’s baked, so make it Friday morning, and cover it tightly to use even the following day.
The health benefits of using this recipe over other egg challah or even water challah recipes is quite clear. With only teaspoons of sugar as opposed to cups, with no eggs and with extra virgin olive oil instead of vegetable oil, this is a truly delicious and even heart-healthy alternative to a higher-fat, high-cholesterol, high-sugar-content challah. And the best part is you won’t miss a thing. And your friends and family will ask you for the recipe.
- 4 packages dry yeast
- 4 and 1/2 cups cool water
- 4 tsp sugar
- 2/3 cup olive oil
- 1-2 tsp dried rosemary
- 12 cups unbleached bread flour
- 2 tbsp coarse kosher salt
- 3 teaspoons additional chopped dried rosemary
- 1 tsp dried granulated garlic
- additional coarse kosher salt for sprinkling
- additional olive oil for brushing
- olive oil or (other nonstick oil) spray
Dissolve the yeast in the water and mix in sugar. Let mixture stand for a full five minutes. Then, add olive oil and rosemary (or substitute your favorite herb). In another bowl, combine flour with salt, and mix with a fork. Either by hand or using the bread dough attachment on a stand mixer, slowly add two cups of the flour mixture at a time to the liquid mixture until all is combined and a dough forms. Knead the dough for 3-4 minutes. Turn out dough into a large oiled bowl or container and cover lightly. Allow to rise for two hours. In cooler temperatures, allow more time for the rise or do the rise in a lukewarm oven (heat oven to 170 degrees, turn off the oven, and then put the dough in, making sure your bowl or container is oven-safe).
Once the dough has risen, separate dough roughly into sprayed oval or mid-sized round pans and press lightly to make nooks and crannies. Brush olive oil on top of the dough and sprinkle with coarse salt, rosemary and garlic. (The flavor combination is a classic and my personal favorite, but my sister loves to use dried basil! Feel free to try za’atar or any other interesting herb or spice blend, or just use coarse salt.) Allow dough to rise an additional half hour.
Bake in a 400 degree oven for 40 minutes. Challah is done when nicely browned on top.
This recipe yields 4 large challahs with 12 cupcake tin sized rolls (or any other combination). The recipe can be easily halved. If you bake rolls, please note the baking time will be significantly shortened.
** If you say a bracha over at least 2 lbs 10 oz. of flour (acceptable according to ArtScroll), then this recipe qualifies for a bracha.
By Elizabeth Kratz