One of the true gifts that G-D has bestowed upon the Jewish People is Challah. With one crunch into the egg polished crust, the tongue lingering on the seeds before the teeth tear their way through the flaky light strands inside, a true believer is born.
A slightly salty, yeasty aftertaste lingers, an almost buttery sensation, though no butter is used in Challah.
A rich and complex taste for a bread, Challah is more simple to make than it seems. My kindergarten class would make a couple of loaves every Friday. It has been years since I made a Challah. Today I showed my girls how the bread is braided.
6 Cups All Purpose Flour
2 packets of yeast or 4 1/2 tsp
1/4 Cup Sugar
3 Eggs Beaten
1 Egg Yolk
1/3 Cup Vegetable Oil
Sesame or Poppy Seeds (optional)
Sift flour into a large bowl, or Kitchen Aid Mixing Bowl.
Make a well in the flour and add the yeast.
Add the Sugar and 1/2 Cup of Lukewarm Water to the well.
Let stand for 10 minutes.
Mix in Eggs, Oil, and Salt and 1 more cup of Water
If Flour is dry, add a little more water, but not too much.
Kneed the dough with your hands or a dough hook if you are using the Kitchen Aid.
Make sure to work in the dough that collects on the sides of the bowl.
Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, only a few minutes in the Kitchen Aid, but up to 15 minutes by hand.
Cover the bowl with a warm wet paper towel or clean cloth towel.
Let rise 45 min - 1 hour
Punch the dough down.
Put the dough onto a large floured surface.
Divide into 3 even pieces.
Roll each piece into a long rope of dough.
Pinch the three pieces together at the top and begin to braid.
Bring the outside rope to the middle and then the opposite outside rope into the middle until the braid is complete.
Pinch the end together and tuck under.
Grease and lightly flour a cookie sheet.
Move the braided dough to the sheet.
Cover the dough and let rise until light.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Beat the Egg Yolk with a tsp of water and brush on to the outside of the dough with a pastry brush.
Sprinke Seeds on the bread.
Bake for 45 minutes at 400°F
Reduce heat to 325°F and bake for 15 more minutes.