Ina Garten's Tip For Getting Your Challah To Brown Evenly

Bread: Is there really anything better? Soft, pillowy, gluten-y ... we don't know about you, but we can't get enough of the stuff. There's no greater pleasure, perhaps, than heading to a bakery and standing googly-eyed in front of the display case, deciding between burnished brioche, sturdy sourdough, and crisp croissants — or maybe we should just get all three, because why not?

When it comes to bread, the easiest route to take, by far, is a visit to the bakery. But sometimes we get the notion to bake bread at home. Because as fresh as bakery bread is, what could be fresher than a loaf pulled from our very own oven? Here's the thing, though: Baking bread at home can be challenging. Between figuring out how yeast works to attaining the correct oven temperature, some of our home baking experiments have gone seriously awry. Luckily, Ina Garten exists in this world, and the Barefoot Contessa herself is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to all things baking.

Read on for her tip to achieve a perfectly browned loaf of challah — right at home.

Don't skimp on the egg wash

Challah, the traditional Ashkenazi Jewish loaf that's rich with eggs and egg yolks and usually braided into a pretty plait before baking, is spongy, soft, and delicious (via Food52). Challah is actually a bread that's relatively simple for home bakers. Still, even the most skilled among us sometimes run into problems baking bread, as was the case with one of Ina Garten's readers.

Recently, on her website's Q&A section "Ask Ina," Sydney Baer of Portland, Oregon, asked, "I made your challah – yummmm! The braid was tight going into the oven, but the 'seams' of the braid spread upon baking. The original braid was nicely browned, but the 'spread' part was cooked, but not browned. What happened?"

According to the Barefoot Contessa, the problem here was a lack of egg wash. Egg wash is just beaten egg mixed with a little water, milk, or cream, which is brushed onto baked goods prior to their trip to the oven to help enhance browning and shine (via Food52). In her response, Garten urged more of the stuff.

"As the bread rises, the part of the dough that 'spreads' will be always be less browned, but be sure to cover all the dough (including the crevices of the braid as much as possible) with the egg wash, and most of the loaf should brown nicely," she responded.

There you have it! When baking challah at home, don't skimp on the egg wash.