With a beautiful golden-brown crust and intricate design made from braiding the dough, frequently topped with seeds, challah bread is enjoyed all around the world. It is a traditional Jewish bread that is prepared during holidays as well as on Shabbat since it can be prepared the day before and eaten without using any energy.
If you decide to make challah bread, chances are you’re going to want to make multiple loaves, especially since it’s a labor-intensive process. However, you may find yourself with extra loaves that you can’t eat within a week. Then you’ll need to ask yourself the question, can you freeze challah bread?
When done properly, freezing challah bread is one of the best ways to preserve it. To freeze challah bread you’ll first want to wrap a fully-cooled loaf in tin foil then place it in a freezer bag. To further protect the loaves you can also place the bags in an airtight container to keep them from getting crushed.
What is Challah Bread
If you don’t come from a Jewish background, chances are you’ve never heard of challah bread. This is a type of braided bread that is almost exclusively made by the Jewish community and eaten during holidays or other ceremonial traditions.
Although it can be eaten year-round, challah bread is normally prepared especially for Shabbat and other Jewish holidays such as Passover and Hannakuh.
The exact recipe of challah bread will depend on the Jewish community that you get it from. Certain Jewish communities add a lot of sugar, making it more of a sweet bread, whereas others prefer to avoid virtually all sugar. This is to preserve its status as bread so you don’t have to change the blessing.
Some communities may also choose to mix in different ingredients like raisins or nuts and seeds to give the bread extra flavor and texture.
The most common type of challah bread is braided out of three strands. However, there are other variations depending on the culture and where you purchase the bread from. In some places, the challah bread is formed into hands or even the shape of a bird. To give it a nice sheen, it is usually topped off with an egg wash.
No matter where challah is prepared, it should never contain meat or dairy products. This is because, in Jewish tradition, you cannot consume meat or dairy products at the same time or within the same time frame. By making challah bread without meat or dairy, you wouldn’t have to worry about the other things that you ate before or shortly after the bread.
How to Freeze Challah Bread
If you’ve put in all of the efforts for making a traditional challah bread loaf, you don’t want to waste any of it. However, like most homemade bread, the challah loaf won’t last longer than a week before it begins to mold and break down.
To keep this from happening, the best way to store challah bread if you aren’t going to eat it within a few days is in the freezer. This will keep the bread from molding and, if packaged properly, will prevent it from drying out. In the freezer, a loaf of challah bread will stay fresh for around three months.
To freeze your challah bread with the best results, make sure to follow the steps detailed below.
Allow to Cool
Before you can freeze your challah bread, the first thing that you’ll need to do is let the bread cool down completely. This will help to keep the bread from becoming soggy and losing that delicious crust.
After it is finished baking remove the loaf from the oven and place it on a cooling rack. Using a cooling rack allows for better air circulation and keeps the bottom of the bread crisp while it cools. After several hours, the bread should be fully cooled.
Wrap Challah in Foil
After the challah bread has completely cooled down, you will want to wrap it in foil. This will help to protect the challah bread in the freezer and keep it from drying out or becoming damaged.
Make sure to fully cover the challah bread, don’t leave any parts of it exposed. If you do the challah bread will be more prone to drying out while it’s in the freezer.
This step is especially important if you’re freezing multiple loaves to keep them from sticking together.
Place Inside a Large Freezer Bag
After each challah loaf has been wrapped, it’s time to place them inside the freezer bag. Make sure to use heavy-duty freezer bags that will hold up while they are in the freezer. If you use a regular plastic bag, it won’t be able to protect the bread as much.
Make sure to squeeze out as much air as possible before sealing the bag. This will keep the bread from drying out and prevent freezer burn. Try using tape to seal the bag even more thoroughly.
You can place multiple loaves inside one bag, just make sure that they are individually wrapped. If you place them together without wrapping them, the moisture in the crust can cause the loaves to freeze together.
Use an Airtight Container (Optional)
This step is optional but is a good idea especially if your freezer is packed with lots of other foods. As a soft bread, challah bread is prone to getting crushed, especially if there are other heavy things in your freezer.
By using a rigid airtight container, you will be able to prevent your challah bread from getting crushed while it’s in the freezer.
Thawing and Reheating
Once you’re ready to eat your challah bread you’ll need to thaw and reheat it. The best way to thaw it is by leaving it out on the counter for a couple of hours and letting it gradually soften.
After the bread has been fully thawed it’s time to reheat the bread. The easiest way to do this is by using the oven and wrapping the bread in foil to keep it from burning. If you don’t want to use the oven, there are also several other methods that you can use.
3 Tips for Freezing Challah Bread
Transfer to Wire Racks
Immediately after baking your challah bread, make sure you transfer it to wire racks. This will allow air to circulate around the bread and make sure that moisture doesn’t accumulate on the crust. If moisture builds up on the crust, it will be much harder to freeze it and maintain its texture.
Cooling on a wire rack also helps to cool the bread down more quickly, allowing you to freeze it within a matter of hours instead of having to wait all day long.
Tape Bags Up
For best results, try taping your freezer bags shut before you put them in the freezer. Yes, they have seals, but these can be faulty and still let a small amount of air into the bag. By using tape around the seal, you will ensure that you keep as much air out as possible.
If air gets into the bag, it can increase the chances that your bread gets freezer burn and dries out.
How to Freeze Challah Dough
If at all possible, you should avoid freezing challah dough and only freeze bread that has already been baked. If you freeze challah dough, it won’t rise the same way and have the same light and fluffy texture that you’re accustomed to in the bread.
If you must freeze it, make sure to fully shape it and prepare it for baking before freezing. This will preserve the texture as much as possible and give you the best results once you do bake it.
If you’re ever in a position where you have too much challah bread to eat within a week, you can freeze it to keep it fresh longer. When frozen, challah bread can stay fresh for up to three months and maintain a very similar texture and flavor.
To freezer challah bread you’ll wrap each loaf in foil and then place it in an airtight bag. This will keep the challah bread from drying out while it is in the freezer.