I made this Star of David challah for the first time on Independence Day 2021, and I liked it so much that I made it a tradition. When the Iron Swords War broke out, I felt that I wanted to show my pride in my Jewish-Israeli heritage, and express it through action, so I created this braiding. Happily, many bakers from around the world adopted it to express solidarity and give us strength during these difficult days and this challah became an overnight sensation.
The beauty of this challah is that it is extremely simple to make – even if you have never braided challah before, it is nearly foolproof. To create a uniform sesame coating, I roll the challah on a wet paper towel; the moisture helps the sesame seeds stick to the dough. Note that the dough may shrink a little after the wetting and rolling process, and this is normal – just let the dough strips rest for two to three minutes and then gently stretch them again.
The detailed instructions for braiding are waiting for you later in the recipe, but you can also use either of the following videos:
Ingredients for Star of David Challah
For the Dough:
- 7 cups + 2 tablespoons (1 kilogram) bread flour
- ½ cup (100 grams) Sugar (for those who prefer a less sweet challah, can reduce up to half the amount of sugar)
- 1 tablespoon (20 grams) Salt fine
- 3 teaspoons (14 grams) Dry yeast or 40 grams fresh yeast
- ½ cup (100 grams) olive oil or sunflower oil
- 1 ¾ cups + 1 tablespoon (430 grams) water
For the egg wash and garnish:
- 1-2 cups Sesame seeds
- 1 egg yolks scrambled
מכינים ומתפיחים את הבצק
1. Mix flour, sugar, salt and dry yeast in a stand mixer bowl fitted with the dough hook- if using fresh yeast, do not add it at this stage but dissolve it in 1/2 cup of the water.
2. Add oil and water (if using fresh yeast, add the dissolved yeast as well) while mixing at a slow speed. Knead for about 4 minutes, until the flour absorbs all the liquid. You may not need all the water - the resulting dough should be neither sticky nor wet, but it is important that all the flour is absorbed into the dough (make sure you check under the dough at the bottom of the bowl).
3. Increase the speed of the mixer to medium and knead for 10-12 minutes, until you get a smooth, uniform dough that gathers around the kneading hook and detaches from the sides of the bowl.
4. Remove the dough from the mixer bowl, and transfer to a greased bowl. Cover with a plastic bag or a clean, damp towel and leave to rise outside the refrigerator for about an hour until the dough doubles in volume.
Shape, rise, and bake:
5. Heat an oven to 355F (180C) degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. On the side, prepare a large tray with sesame seeds and paper towels.
6. Divide the dough into 24 large balls weighing 2.15 oz (60 grams) each and 4 small balls weighing 1 oz (30 grams) each. Place 6 large balls and 2 small balls (for one pan) on the work surface. There is no need to flour or oil the work surface. The rest of the balls are left covered so they don't dry out.
7. Take one of the large balls of dough and flatten it a little using the base of your palm to form an oval. Fold the long side of the oval to the center and roll it into a cylinder. Place your hands in the middle of the roll and roll it while moving your hands from the center to the ends, until you get a strip of dough 9.8" (25 cm) long, thick in the center and narrow at the edges. Roll 5 more strips in the same way.
8. Place 2 layers of paper towels on the work surface and moisten them lightly with water. Roll a strip of dough on the wet paper towel until it is slightly damp. Transfer the strip of dough to the tray with the sesame and roll until the strip is covered with sesame on all sides. Coat all the strips of dough in the same way.
9. Arrange 3 strips of dough covered in sesame seeds in a triangular shape. Place the remaining 3 strips on top of them in the shape of an inverted triangle and weave the top three strips into the bottom three to form a Star of David. Fasten the corners of the triangles so that they keep their shape when inflated.
10. Create the flower that will be placed in the center of the challah: cut the two small balls of dough into 4 pieces each and roll each piece into a flat circle, so that 8 circles are formed.
11. Arrange the dough circles in a row, side by side, from right to left, with a slight overlap between them, like roof tiles. Roll the row of dough circles from right to left, to create a kind of snail consisting of circles. Cut the snail evenly, (parallel to you) and place the two halves of the snail on the cut side, so that two dough flowers are formed.
12. Place one of the flowers in the center of the Star of David (save the other dough flower for one of the following challahs).
13. Design the remaining three challahs in the same way. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean towel and leave to rise for 40-60 minutes, until the dough almost doubles in size.
14. Brush the dough flowers in the center of the challah with beaten egg yolk.
15. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the crust is golden on all sides.
If desired, weave one Star of David challah from the dough. Divide the rest of the dough into 8 equal parts and make a heart challah according to the explanation in the link