This Chocolate Chip Challah is delicious, impressive, and perfect to serve with your Hanukkah dinner or on Shabbat! It will disappear off the table.
I still clearly remember the first time I made challah. It was probably one of my first, if not my first, experience making any sort of yeast bread. I couldn’t have been older than 7 or 8, and I still remember kneading the sticky dough and making a sticky, floury mess all over the kitchen as my sister and I attempted to craft the challah under the guidance of our Hebrew tutor.
I don’t remember how our challah tasted, or if it even ended up looking like a challah, but I do remember making it being so much fun.
Baking with yeast can sometimes still be anxiety inducing, but instant yeast has proven itself to be almost foolproof. No proofing required, just mix everything together and knead away (or, let your stand mixer knead away). I thought I totally messed up this recipe and that my water wasn’t warm enough when added to the dough, so the yeast wouldn’t activate and the dough definitely wouldn’t rise and I would have to start all over…but despite my freak out, the dough rose beautifully. It did take a little extra time to rise because my kitchen was way too cold, but the dough turned out soft and silky and wonderful to work with.
I decided to try out a new technique for shaping the challah, and though I gave it my best shot in the instructions on how to explain how to wrap it, if you’re a visual person head over to Smitten Kitchen for great how-to pics of how to shape this challah.
Of course, now and forever I will put chocolate wherever I can, so I had to make my challah with chocolate chips in it. Chocolate chip challah has always been my fave on Jewish holidays, getting slathered with butter and devoured. I did precisely that to this loaf, and it didn’t last long as my housemates and I slivered off slices and watched it dwindle down way too quickly.
This challah even toasted up well, and would no doubt make great french toast if you manage to keep it around that long. It’s beautiful, and will be the perfect thing to serve up with Channukah dinner or on Friday night Shabbat. It’s just delicious. Get your bread baking on – let’s make some challah!
Chocolate Chip Challah
- 1/2 cup water water about 110 F
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
- 2 large eggs
- 1 large egg yolk save the white for the glaze
- 3 cups all-purpose flour + 1/2 cup, if needed
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 1 cup chocolate chips
- 1 large egg white to glaze
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine 3 cups of the flour, sugar, yeast and salt. In a 2-cup measuring cup, whisk the warm water, melted butter, eggs and egg yolk. With the mixer on low, slowly add the water mixture and mix until a rough dough starts to form. Increase the speed to medium-low and let the machine knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. The dough should clear the sides of the bowl, but stick to the bottom. If the dough is too sticky, add up to 1/2 cup flour a little at a time.
- Lightly grease a large bowl, form the dough into a smooth ball, and place in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 1 – 2 hours (it took a little over 2 hours in my cold kitchen). To check if your dough has risen enough, press a finger into the dough. If it springs back, let it rise a little bit longer. If it stays indented, move onto the next step.
- When the dough has risen, turn it out onto a floured countertop and cut it in half. Roll the first half out into a rectangle and sprinkle the chocolate chips over it. Roll the dough into a tight rope. Very carefully stretch the rope of dough as far as you think you can from each end, and cut this longer rope in half. Repeat with the second half of the dough.
- Place two ropes of dough in each direction, perpendicular to each other, like a pound symbol #. Weave them so that one rope is over and the other is under where they meet. Take the four legs that come from underneath the center and cross them over the rope to it's right. Take the ropes that are now on the bottom and, again, cross each over the top rope, this time to the left. If you have extra length in your ropes, you can repeat these left-right jumps until you run out of rope. Tuck the ends of the ropes under the dough with the sides of your hands to form a round shape.*
- Once you've formed your challah, place it on a baking sheet covered with parchment. Beat the egg white and brush it over the dough. Let the challah rise another hour.
- Preheat your oven to 375°F. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until deeply brown. If your challah is getting too dark too quick, tent it with aluminum foil for the remainder of the baking time. The challah is done when a thermometer inserted into the center of the dough reads 195°F, or if you don't have an instant thermometer, lift the challah gently with an oven mitt and knock gently on the bottom of the loaf. If it sounds hollow, it's done.
*This is tricky to describe in words, so I'm going to refer you to Smitten Kitchen's post for a great visual on how to weave this bread!