Basic Pull-Apart Challah

Basic Pull Apart Challah
Andrew Purcell

This recipe yields 10 pounds, 6 ounces of dough, or 5 challahs.


2ounces (1/4 cup) active dry yeast
2cups plus 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
6cups warm water (90F to 100F)
1/4cup kosher salt
6pounds high-gluten (bread) or all-purpose flour
4large eggs, separated
1 1/4cups canola oil
Cooking spray
1/2cup sesame seeds
1/2cup poppy seeds


  1. Bloom the yeast: Dissolve yeast and 3 tablespoons sugar in 2 cups of warm water in medium bowl; set aside to bloom. If yeast doesn’t bloom after 5 minutes, discard mixture and start over.
  2. Place salt, flour, and remaining 2 cups sugar together in very large bowl and stir together. Add 4 egg yolks. Make a well in the middle and add yeast mixture and remaining 4 cups water. Start kneading together; add 1/2 cup canola oil. Knead for 10 minutes, adding another 1/2 cup canola oil, a small amount at a time, to create a workable dough. Dough will become a cohesive mass yet be a bit sticky. Rub a little of remaining 1/4 cup canola oil over top and sides of dough. Loosely cover dough with kitchen towel and place bowl in warm spot for 15 minutes.
  3. After 15 minutes, dough will have relaxed a bit and should be easier to work with. Lightly oil your hands and knead dough again until smooth and satiny, 2 to 3 minutes. Rub a little oil over top and sides of dough. Cover with kitchen towel and place bowl in medium garbage bag. Place open end loosely underneath bowl to trap air. Let dough rise in warm dark corner of your kitchen until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Uncover dough. With lightly oiled hands, punch dough down to release air. Cover again with bag, loosely tucked under, and let rise for 1 hour.
  4. Preheat oven to 375F. Divide dough into five equal parts, about 2 pounds each. Spray five 9-inch round baking pans with cooking spray.
 Place one piece of dough on smooth work surface. Squeeze out any air bubbles from dough and roll it into a 12-inch rope. If dough is sticking, lightly spray work-surface with cooking spray. Cut rope into eight equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball. Place one ball in center of prepared pan and surround it with remaining balls. Repeat with remaining pieces of dough so you have five pans of challah. Loosely cover each pan with kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let rise 15 minutes. (If you can’t fit all the pans in your oven at once and you want your challahs to be as beautiful as possible, shape remaining dough while first round of challahs are in oven so they don’t rise for too much longer than 15 minutes before baking.)
  5. Beat egg whites with 1 teaspoon water in small bowl and brush challahs. Sprinkle each with sesame or poppy seeds or a combination of the two.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350F and bake until tops are dark golden brown, 35 to 45 minutes more. Let cool 15 minutes before serving warm, or cool completely on a wire rack.

Recipe reprinted with permission from Joy of Kosher. Copyright 2013, William Morrow.