Baking History

A Taste For The Past

Barches (Challah)

Posted by bakinghistory on June 15, 2007


Barches is the name for Challah in German and western Yiddish. This version is the traditional old-fashioned kind made with a minimal amount of fat and sugar and no eggs except in the glaze. It has a thin crispy crust and a chewy crumb with a plain but excellent flavor. It is often a nice change from the Challah rich in eggs and honey that I usually bake.

From the original recipe by Lizzie Black Kander

In “The Settlement Cook Book” 1901-USA


2 cups (474 g) boiling water

1 tbsp (18 g) salt

1 tbsp (12 g) granulated sugar

1 tbsp (15 ml) oil

1-1/2 tsp (6 g) active dry yeast

1/2 cup (118 ml) water at 100° F (38° C)

6-1/2 cups (890 g) bread flour

To Glaze: 1 yolk +1 tbsp (15 ml) water

Poppy seed (optional)


Dissolve the sugar and salt in the boiling water and add the oil; set aside to cool until lukewarm. Dissolve the yeast in the 1/2 cup of warm water(100°F–38° C), and set aside for 5 minutes. Add the yeast water to the flour and then the remaining water to which you had added salt, sugar and oil. Knead in the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the dough hook, at the lowest speed until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Leave the dough to rest in the bowl, covered, for about 20 minutes,then place in the refrigerator to rise overnight.

The following day, take out the dough and, without kneading it, divide it in half. Divide each half into 3, 4, or 6 pieces, depending on how many strands you want for shaping the braids. Roll each piece into a long, even strand, not too thin, and shape the braids. It is better to lightly flour each strand before braiding them, this will help keep the braided shape neat during baking.

Sprinkle generously a peel or a baking sheet with fine cornmeal or semolina and place the shaped breads on it, cover and leave them to rise for 1-1/2 or 2 hours, then brush them with yolk mixed with 1 tbsp of water and sprinkle with poppy seed if you like.Bake the bread in a preheated oven 425° F (220°C) for about 45-60 minutes.

Note if you have a baking stone, preheat it for at least 45 minutes and bake the breads directly on it. Let the breads cool on a rack.


4 Responses to “Barches (Challah)”

  1. Chanit said

    One picture tells us all the taste !
    What a perfect challah Bread, I love all what you’re doing in your Blog , THANK YOU 🙂

  2. bakinghistory said

    Thank you so much,Chanit!! 🙂

  3. Desiderio said

    Manuela , yummy ! What a wonderfull site , I cant wait to try everything posted :-)Thank you!

  4. bakinghistory said

    Desiderio Thank you! 🙂 Ciao!

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