1 loaf, 12 servings (serving size: 1 slice)

Allowing the dough to rise three times gives the yeast more time to develop, resulting in a rich, complex flavor. Although this bread is best eaten the day it's made, you can also bake it one day in advance. Cool the bread completely, wrap in plastic wrap, and then wrap in foil; store at room temperature. Leftovers make excellent bread pudding.

How to Make It

Step 1

Dissolve yeast in 1 cup warm water in a large bowl; stir in honey and saffron threads. Let stand for 5 minutes. Add melted butter, 1 teaspoon salt, and egg; stir well with a whisk.

Step 2

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 2 3/4 cups flour to yeast mixture, and stir until a soft dough forms. Cover and let stand for 15 minutes.

Step 3

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 8 minutes); add enough of remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will be very soft).

Step 4

Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 40 minutes or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, the dough has risen enough.)

Step 5

Punch dough down. Shape dough into a ball; return to bowl. Cover and let rise an additional 40 minutes or until doubled in size. Punch dough down; cover and let rest 15 minutes.

Step 6

Divide dough into 3 equal portions. Working with 1 portion at a time (cover remaining dough to prevent drying), on a lightly floured surface, roll each portion into a 25-inch rope with slightly tapered ends. Place ropes lengthwise on a large baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal; pinch ends together at untapered ends to seal. Braid ropes; pinch loose ends to seal. Cover and let rise 20 minutes or until almost doubled in size.

Step 7

Preheat oven to 375°.

Step 8

Combine 1 teaspoon water and large egg yolk, stirring with a fork until blended. Uncover loaf, and gently brush with egg yolk mixture. Sprinkle evenly with 1/4 teaspoon poppy seeds. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes or until loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack.

Ratings & Reviews

Great Challah

September 20, 2017
I've made this sweet challah today and it looks wonderful, can you tell me why you use all purpose flour in your other challah (plain one) and bread flour in this one - can I use either to make the plain challah?

skidwell's Review

December 26, 2011
Loved it, turned out Beautiful! My husband said it was the best bread I have ever made. Definitely a go to recipe! Made it for our Christmas dinner yesterday.

madielion's Review

November 11, 2008
I've made this challah a few times - each time it turns out really well, and I'm not an experienced bread baker by any means. I usually add a little extra honey for good measure and leave out the saffron/poppy seeds, but I think its a good "gateway" bread. Delish.

Silvia83's Review

July 20, 2012
I Let bread dough rise too long 4 hrs for the 2nd lift. If I bake it, will it be ok?

GNJBarnette's Review

January 01, 2009
A little time consuming but worth the results. The bread was beautiful (just like the picture), and tasted wonderful. We re-heated in oven just before serving and spread with butter (which melted right in). I'm not Jewish so I don't know if it is supposed to be served with a special meal, but we had it with a nice ham dinner with sweet potatoes, corn and mac and cheese.

tmetallo's Review

December 24, 2008
THis bread is amazing. It is very easy (a bit time consuming, but easy) and I have made it for many occasions. Everyone raves every time it is on the table. I made it for Thanksgiving this year and I am going to give it as Christmas presents. Great bread!

MeganCalPoly's Review

December 19, 2010
Absolutely delicious. A bit time consuming, but not too long. Was very easy and VERY yummy. We ate a few pieces soon after taking it out of the oven, then used the rest for french toast the next morning. Again, delicious. I only deviated from the recipe by not using the saffron or poppy seeds.

KatieM314's Review

March 26, 2012
I make this bread alot, it is one of my favorite recipes it comes out beautiful and is easy to make. I always make a honey butter to go with it and there are never any leftovers. It also makes really yummy french toast if you want to vary it up a little!

saffrongoddess's Review

September 22, 2009
I tried this recipe yesterday and have since made 4 more loaves due to family demand. I add a bit of vanilla powder to the liquid starter along with the saffron which adds a nice scent/flavor, and instead of the poppy seeds, I mix a generous amount of sugar into the egg wash (larger crystals will give the bread a beautiful studded look). I fully braided all of the loaves but one, which I shaped into a round, stuffed with jam, and finished off by cutting 3/4 off top portions of the dough that I then twisted into a braided round on top. Thanks to other reviewers who highly recommended this - it really does look just like the photo, and the taste and texture are incredible!

susanmarie15's Review

November 05, 2009
This bread is great; the dough is very easy to work with from the start and it tastes wonderful when it is complete. It only took about 20 minutes to bake before it was golden brown on top, so be mindful and check on it before the 30 minutes that the recipe calls for. I definitely recommend this recipe!