Yes, I’ve made challah before, and now I’ve finally come to a recipe and process that is to all of our liking. This recipe yields 2 loaves…use one and freeze the other for next week!
- 1 c. lukewarm water
- 3 envelopes yeast (totaling 2 TBSP + 3/4 tsp. yeast) (I like the Rapid Rise yeast)
- 3/4 c. sugar
- 1 1/4 c. lukewarm water
- 3/4 c. vegetable oil
- 1 TBSP salt
- 3 large eggs
- 8-10 c. bread flour
- 1 egg for egg wash
- In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix the yeast in 1 c. water. Make sure the water is warm–not cold or hot. This allows the yeast to work properly–you’ll know it’s working of you see little bubbles on the surface. (If no bubbles, don’t worry, just continue.) Set aside.
- Combine sugar, 1 1/4 c. water, oil, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, beat 3 eggs. Then add the eggs to the sugar mixture.
- Add the yeast to the sugar mixture.
- Add 4 or 5 cups of flour and mix well. Gradually add 4 or 5 more cups of flour. By the time you add 6 to 7 cups of flour, it’s easier to mix the remaining flour into the dough if you put the dough on a floured surface. By judging the feel you will know how much more to add–if the mixture is sticky, add more flour; if it’s dry and stringy, add a little water. (The amount of flour you’ll need will vary every time, depending on things like the air temperature and humidity, so don’t worry about an exact amount of flour.)
- Knead your dough on a floured surface for 7 to 10 minutes…I only lasted 7 minutes. Add more flour to your surface as needed.
- Put some vegetable oil on a paper towel and wipe it around the inside of a large clean bowl. Put the dough in the oiled bowl, and flip the dough over so both sides get a little bit of oil on them. Then lay a piece of wax paper over the bowl and then place a dish towel on top of that. Let the dough rise for an hour, and it should double in size. (If your dough doesn’t rise much don’t worry, and continue on–trust me.)
- Punch down the dough to deflate it, and knead again for a few minutes to work out any excess air bubbles. Put the dough back into the bowl, and cover with wax paper and towel, and let rise for another half hour.
- Now you’re ready to braid. Take the dough out of the bowl and divide it into 2; working with one half at a time, divide the half into 4 equal chunks. Roll the four pieces into snakes about 12 to 16 inches long. The length doesn’t matter, just make sure all 4 are the same length. I have found that if your snakes are too thick, the challah will be too thick and it won’t cook in the center, so it’s better to have longer thinner snakes than shorter fatter ones.
- Lay the 4 snakes on your work surface and pinch the ends together. Take the piece on the left and weave it over the roll of dough next to it, then under the next roll, and finally over the last roll, so that it finishes on the far right. Next take the piece that is now on the far left, and again, weave over, under, and over until it finishes on the far right. Continue to weave the left-hand piece until the pieces are too short to weave. Then pinch the ends together and tuck them under the loaf. Repeat with the second half.
- Step by step:
Step 1: 4 equal snakes
Step 2: Pinch ends together
Step 3: Take far left snake and weave over, under then over the snakes to the right
Step 4: Take the new far left snake and weave over, under and over the snakes to the right. Repeat.
Step 5: Finished braided Challah and pinch the other ends together and tuck under the loaf
10. Place parchment paper on each cookie sheet and put one loaf on each cookie sheet and place a dishtowel over the loaves and let rest for 10 minutes.
11. Prepare egg wash–don’t dilute it with water! Brush the egg wash onto each loaf.
12. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Mine was done at 40 minutes, so I’d start checking at 35.