Prep 3 hrs
Cook 1 hr
From Temple Kol Ami class
- 1 1⁄2 tablespoons active dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1⁄2 cup sugar
- 1⁄2 cup olive oil or 1⁄2 cup vegetable oil, plus more for greasing the bowl
- 5 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 8 cups all-purpose flour, could be as much as 8 . 5 cups
- 1⁄2 cup raisins, per challah, plumped in hot water and drained (optional)
- poppy seeds (optional) or sesame seeds, for sprinkling (optional)
- In a large bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 T sugar in 1 3/4 cups lukewarm water. Let rest for 10 minutes.
- Whisk oil into yeast, then beat in 4 eggs, one at a time, with remaining sugar and salt. Gradually add flour. When dough holds together, it is ready for kneading. (You can also use a mixer with a dough hook for both mixing and kneading, but be careful if using standard KitchenAid, it's a bit much for it, though it can be done.).
- Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth. Clean out bowl and grease it, then return dough to bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until almost doubled in size. Dough may also rise in an oven that has been warmed to 150 degrees then turned off. Punch dough down, cover and let rise again in a warm place for another half hour.
- Note: any of these risings can be done in the fridge for a few hours, for a more deeply developed flavor. When you are ready to work with it again, bring it back to room temperature before moving on to next step.
- At this point, you can knead the raisins into the challah, if you are using them, before forming the loaves.
- To make a 4-braid challah, either straight or circular, take half the dough and form it into four balls per loaf. With your hands, roll each ball into a strand about 12 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide. Place the four in a row, parallel to one another. Pinch the top of the strands together.
- Grasp the leftmost strand and pass it to the right, under the two strands adjacent to it, then back towards the left, over one strand (the one closest to it now).
- Grasp the rightmost strand and pass to the left, under the two strands adjacent to it (which have already been braided), and then back to the right, over one strand.
- Alternately do steps 7 and 8 until braid complete. Pinch ends together.
- If you want a circular loaf, twist into a circle, pinching ends together. Repeat for second loaf.
- Place loaves on baking pan with at least 2 inch between.
- Beat remaining egg and brush onto loaves. Either freeze breads, or let rise another hour.
- If baking immediately, preheat oven to 375 and brush loaves again. Sprinkle loaves with seeds in using. If freezing, remove from freezer for 5 hours before baking.
- Bake in middle of oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden. (If you have an instant read thermometer, you can take the loaf out when internal temperature of 190 degrees. Cool loaves on a rack.