An Easter Tradition: Challah

By MICHELLE HICKS for the Flathead Beacon

Spring has finally arrived, and Easter is quickly approaching. For me, Easter means getting together with family, enjoying the sunshine and having great food. Over the years, it has become a tradition for me to make Challah, (which happens to be one of my favorite breads). Similar to Brioche, this bread is slightly sweet and very rich, made with eggs and oil. Traditionally, the braided Sabbath bread of Judaism is a European celebratory loaf, symbolic of God’s goodness and bounty. I should warn you that this recipe is quite time consuming, though, I assure you, it is well worth the wait!



  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. yeast
  • 2/3 cups water
  • 2 tsp. honey
  • 3 eggs
  • Dough:
  • 4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp. yeast
  • 1 Tbsp. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 Tbsp. cider vinegar



Day 1: Combine all sponge ingredients in medium size bowl. The mixture will resemble pancake batter. Let sit at room temperature overnight.

Day 2: For the dough, combine eggs, oil, honey and vinegar in mixing bowl. Sprinkle flour and yeast over sponge. Let sit one hour at room temperature. Put sponge mixture into bowl of stand mixer and add honey mixture. Mix with dough hook, about five minutes on medium-low speed. The dough should be shiny and smooth. It will be slightly sticky. Let the dough retard overnight in oiled bowl in refrigerator.

Day 3: Remove dough from fridge and cut into three equal portions. Round each portion and let each rest for five to ten minutes. Form each portion into equal length strands, (thicker in the middle and slightly tapered towards the ends). This braid will begin in the middle. Place the three strands perpendicular to you and parallel to one another. Beginning in the middle of the loaf and working toward you, follow this pattern: right outside strand over the middle strand, left outside over middle. Repeat until you reach the bottom end of the dough. Pinch the end closed to seal, and rotate the loaf 180-degrees so the unbraided end is facing you. Continue braiding, but now weave the outside strand under the middle strand until you reach the end of the loaf. Pinch together the tips at both ends to seal the finished loaf. Egg wash the top (using a mixture of two parts egg, one part cream, and a little added honey), and sprinkle with poppy seeds.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.

This recipe also makes for great French toast bread. On the off-chance you have any leftover from dinner, you’ll have breakfast covered too!


 Michelle Hicks is a graduate of The Culinary Institute of Montana at FVCC and works as an instructional assistant for the program. For more information about the program,