This was my very first attempt at making Challah, and if I do say so myself, it turned out fantastic! I got this recipe from Meredith Jacobs’ book. The only thing I found to be a bit different in this recipe, is that it has you dissolve 3 packages of yeast in only 1/4 c. of water. The yeast never really bubbled, because the mixture was so thick…about the consistency of cake batter. My dough didn’t rise that much, but she says that if that happens, make it anyway, because it still tastes great. She didn’t lie, and while the loaves baked (the recipe yields 2 loaves) they rose quite a bit. We had one with dinner on Friday night, and then I froze the other baked loaf for another Friday night. You can use leftovers to make Challah French Toast…yummy!
- 3/4 c. sugar
- 2 c. lukewarm water
- 3/4 c. vegetable oil
- 1 TBSP salt
- 3 large eggs
- 3 envelopes yeast (totaling 2 TBSP + 3/4 tsp. yeast)
- 1/4 c. lukewarm water
- 8-10 c. bread flour
- egg for egg wash
- Combine sugar, 2 c. water, oil, and salt. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs. Then add the eggs to the sugar mixture.
- In a separate cup, mix the yeast in 1/4 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. (No bubbles for me, but it still worked. Next time I’ll probably play around with the amount of water to dissolve the yeast.)
- 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 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.)
- Dump your dough mixture onto a floured surface (it probably won’t all be combined, that’s ok, because neither was mine and it works out just fine). 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. (Mine didn’t, so don’t worry if yours doesn’t.)
- 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; then divide each of the chunks of dough into 4. Work with one set at a time. Roll the four pieces into snakes about 10 to 12 inches long. The length doesn’t matter, just make sure all 4 are the same length.
- 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 dough of second loaf.
- 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 loaves on a nonstick cookie sheet and place a dishtowel over them 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 to 55 minutes. Mine was done at 40 minutes, so I’d start checking at 35.