Baking Tips

The Easiest Way to Braid Challah

Weaving strands of dough together to create an attractive braid is the most daunting part of making challah. We learned tips from pro bakers that make the process easy.
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Published Sept. 23, 2022.

Challah is well-suited for novice bread bakers. There’s no starter to feed, the kneading can be done in a stand mixer, and a loaf can be made from start to finish in an afternoon. 

The daunting part is the braiding. In my opinion, you need to weave at least four strands to make an impressively lofty loaf, but it’s dizzying to keep track of each rope when they’re aligned next to one another. 

I was fortunate enough to pick up some pro tips for braiding while developing my own recipe for challah, and I’m happy to share them here. One is an unconventional, brilliantly simple method for plaiting an oblong loaf, which I learned from veteran challah baker Michael Lombardo, the owner of Rosenfeld’s Bagels in Newton, Mass. The other is a classic approach to weaving a traditional round challah for Rosh Hashanah taught to me by Andrew Janjigian, a professional baker and my former test kitchen colleague.

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How to Braid 4-Strand Challah

1. Arrange ropes in plus-sign shape, with 4 ends overlapping in center by ½ inch. Firmly press center of cross into counter to seal ropes to each other and to counter.

2. Lift rope at 12 o’clock, bring over center, and place in 5 o’clock position.

3. Lift rope at 6 o’clock, bring over center, and place in 12 o’clock position.

4. Lift rope at 9 o’clock, bring over center, and place in 4 o’clock position.

5. Lift rope at 3 o’clock and, working toward yourself, bring over braid and place in 8 o’clock position.

6. Adjust ropes so they are at 12, 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions. Repeat steps 2 through 6.

7. Continue braiding, working toward yourself, until you can no longer braid. Loaf will naturally list to one side. Pinch ends of ropes together. Tuck both ends under braid.

Watch Lan Lam walk through her Challah recipe and braiding technique.

How to Braid Round Challah

1. Adjust ropes to create 1-inch square at center of sheets.  

2. Loosely cross ropes right over left.

3. Loosely cross ropes left over right.

4. Pinch ends together.

5. Tuck all pinched ends and outer loops under round.

Easy-Braid Challah

Ritual and muscle memory have carried this soft, rich Jewish loaf through generations. A change in technique made the dough perfect for novice bread bakers.
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Braided Round Challah

Ritual and muscle memory have carried this soft, rich Jewish loaf through generations. A change in technique made the dough perfect for novice bread bakers.
Get the Recipe

French Toast for Challah or Sandwich Bread

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