5 - Strand Water Challah / Eggless Challah

Challah is a braided bread enriched with eggs and oil. A little sugar adds a hint of sweetness. This week is all about traditional bread. Artisan loaves replicated in my kitchen. What makes challah special is the braids. I have tried braiding before, this post is all about braiding 4, 6, 8 and 9 strand braids. But I had never tried a 5 strand bread, so this challah is made with 5 strands. Another specialty of this bread is that it is not enriched with eggs. It has oil and a little sugar but no egg. And unlike most eggless bakes it has no egg substitute. You just drop the egg from the recipe, adjust the quantity of liquid with water and you have water challah.

The challah is a very soft bread. The crumb is not very open but it is visibly soft. I had wondered how the absence of eggs and no other substitute could produce the same result. But it does. The picture below of the crumb was shot at night so it is not very good. But I had to share it. The bread was all gone by morning.

Baking the braids is tricky. Oven spring can sometimes ruin the appearance with unwashed dough peeking through between the darker washed dough. To prevent this from happening use a simple tip I got from one of the ladies from my Facebook baking group. Allow the dough to over proof. Poke it with your finger, if the dough springs back let it rest a little longer. If it takes a while to bounce back it is ready for the oven. Bake at 350 F for a good 40 minutes to get the dark golden color. Another tip I got from the same person after I shared this picture - use a corn starch wash to get a shine similar to an egg wash. Will use this tip next time.

You will need (for 1 long loaf)
For the dough
2 1/4 cups flour
3/4 cup warm water
2 tbsp oil
3/4 tsp yeast
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt

For the wash
1 tbsp. cream (I used whipping cream)
1 tsp. butter (optional)

Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and form a soft dough. Knead the dough for 5-8 minutes until it is smooth and elastic.

Cover and keep aside until it doubles in volume. The time could be anywhere from an hour to 2 and a half hours depending upon weather and temperature in your kitchen.

Transfer the dough to a floured working surface and divide into five portions by weight. Roll each of the portions into a rope.

To braid, bring together the ropes at one end. I followed instructions on this video. Start the braiding on one end.

Continue to braid without pulling on the ropes. Place them with the help of gravity. You do not want a tight braid.

Continue braiding to the end.

Tuck the end in for a neat finish. Transfer to a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.

Cover with a tea cloth and let it rest for an hour or two. Poke your finger in the dough. If it does not spring back then the dough is ready for the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Brush the top with cream making sure you get it in all the crevices.

Pop it in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until the top is deep brown and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped. Brush with butter is desired.

Allow it to cool completely before slicing.



  1. That 5 braided challah looks beautiful, Varada.

  2. The only braided bread I did was 3 strands and that came out just about average. 5 strainds challah is beautiful and it is amazing to know even eggless version has a nice soft crumb.

  3. Wow Varada that braided bread ia just fantastic. It looks so pretty and i have been scrolling up and down , truly it's amazing.

  4. This 5 strand challah looks just prefect, beautiful crust and stunning crumb.. Loving it.

  5. The braids have come so beautifully perfect...

  6. Truly an artisan bread! Love the color inspite of it being eggless.

  7. I was showing all your breads to my 8 year old son and and we were going "woah"(extended "wow") for almost all of them. He really liked them all. We had a peek into this bread as well and were very very impressed :-)

  8. So perfect braids. Loved the texture too

  9. Thats a perfectly braided bread. Looks fabulous. Surprised at the soft texture even without eggs. Bookmarked Varada!

  10. the braid is looking lovely... like a new bride :-)

  11. Such a beauty varada!!! i m loving braids these days, planning to try with more strands!!!

  12. That is such an intricate and beautiful braided bread Varada. No eggs and still the same texture makes it even more interesting -- will have to try it sometime.

  13. So perfectly made varada and I love all your creations...I have never trued braided..so you can imagine what I think of this bread..:)..I will keep drooling over here..

  14. The braid has come out just perfect Varada! I have always stayed away from challah because of the eggs. The crumbs are very soft in spite of being egg less. I also like the corn starch wash idea. Will try it next time :)

  15. Stunner of a braided bread there ! & thanks for the tip on d corn starch wash.. Does it work on all breads ?

  16. Couldn't believe that this is eggless. Need to try this. The crumb texture is beautiful...

  17. omg...this looks so so good. no egg too.....bookmarked

  18. Omg love this one too Varada. My when can I make these I wonder.


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