Braided Challah Bread
Challah is a traditional Jewish egg bread. It makes wonderful French toast, too.
2 (0.25-ounce) packages active dry yeast, or 4 1/2 teaspoonsactive dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water - divided use
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 tablespoons corn oil
3 large eggs - divided use
4 3/4 cups all-purpose or bread flour - divided use
3 tablespoons poppy or sesame seeds
- Mix together yeast, 1/2 cup warm water (105°F to 115°F | 40°C to 45°C) and sugar in a small bowl. Set aside in a warm place for 5 minutes.
- In a larger bowl, whisk together remaining 1 cup water, salt, corn oil, 2 eggs, yeast and 2 1/2 cups flour. Beat until elastic, about 5 minutes. Gradually stir in about 2 1/4 cups more flour, working flour into dough vigorously. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Put dough in a greased bowl and turn to grease top. Cover with plastic wrap and a towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
- Grease 2 cookie sheets.
- Punch dough down, turn out and knead for 1 minute to get rid of air bubbles. Divide dough into 6 equal parts. Roll dough into ropes of equal length, about 15-inches long and make 2 braids of 3 strands each. For the most uniform shape, start from the center and braid to one end. Secure ends and tuck them under; turn unbraided ends towards yourself and braid them in reverse of the other side. Cover braids with a dish towel and let rise 45 minutes or until doubled in size.
- Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).
- Beat remaining egg and lightly brush onto loaves in upward strokes. Sprinkle with seeds and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Check after 20 minutes. If bread is getting too brown, cover loosely with a piece of foil. Bread should sound hollow when tapped gently on the bottom. Cool on wire racks.
Makes 2 loaves.