If we’re talking about Challah, I figured I should offer a recipe for those that may not have one that’s been passed down to them. The following recipe should make two loaves of Challah.
Two envelopes, active dry yeast
1 3/4 cups warm water (not hot)
1/2 cup vegetable or safflower oil
5 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar, and an additional tablespoon
1 tablespoon salt
8 to 8 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
If you’d like to use raisins, be sure to plump them in water before adding them to the dough. You can add pareve bittersweet chocolate chips. And, of course, poppy or sesame seeds to sprinkle on top of the loaves.
In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the water. Add in the tablespoon of sugar and stir. Watch for bubbles, as this indicates happy yeasties. Let the mix bubble for 5 minutes or so, until there’s lots of bubbles. No bubbles? Start over with new yeast.
Stir or whisk the oil into the yeast mixture, then add in 4 eggs, one at a time. (If you want really chewy eggy Challah, you can add additional eggs and egg yolks to the dough. You will need more flour if you do this.) Add the 1/2 cup of sugar and salt. Mix well. At this point you will likely want to switch from using a spoon or whisk to using your hands to mix the dough. Add the flour a bit at a time (~half cup at a time).
When the dough holds together, it is ready for kneading.
Pour the dough onto a floured surface and knead until it’s smooth. Add flour if the dough is too wet (and add water if it’s too dry).
Return the dough to the bowl. Cover the bowl with a towel, or loosely covered plastic wrap (or place the bowl in a clean trash bag and tuck the ends under the bowl), and let the dough rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until it is doubled in size. (You can rise the dough in an oven that has been warmed to 150 degrees then turned off.)
Punch down the dough, re-cover and let it rise again in a warm place for another half-hour.
If you are adding raisins, chocolate chips, or any other filling to the dough, knead them in now, before braiding.
Braid the loaves. (I’ll have a future post on braiding Challah.)
Place braided loaves on a greased cookie sheet with at least 2 inches in between.
Beat the remaining egg and brush an egg wash on the loaves. Let the loaves rise for about an hour.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. After the loaves have risen, brush on another layer of egg wash. If you want seeded loaves, sprinkle them on now.
Bake in the center of the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden. Remove and let cool.
Note: If you don’t have the dedicated time to complete the recipe as written, you can place the dough in the refrigerator to rise for a longer period of time. Just be sure to allow the dough to reach room temperature before continuing to work on it.