Since I've been making these Challah's my family refuses those bought in the Bakery & whenever we're invited for a holiday meal somewhere else, the only request is...please bring your Challahs! This, with only minor adaptations comes from The Spice & Spirit of Kosher-Jewish Cooking. Please read all the directions first--yes, they do take a long time to prepare, but only 30-40 minutes or less of that is active time & they are truly worth it!
- First measure out all your ingredients.
- Now from the 1/2 of cup sugar take 1 tablespoon of the sugar & combine it with the yeast& warm water (you know you have the right temperature of warm water when it's the same temperature as the inside of your wrist).
- I let my mixer bowl which is metal (kitchen aid) sit in a hot water bath while the yeast dissolves, 10 minutes.
- After the yeast has dissolved (it's nice & foamy) add to it the rest of the sugar, salt & 3 1/2 cups flour.
- Mix well (I use the bread hook).
- Add egg (already beaten) & oil.
- Slowly start mixing in most of the remaining 3 1/2 cups of flour.
- The dough will become quite thick.
- When the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, turn it onto a floured surface& knead for approximately 10 minute.
- Add only enough additional flour to make dough manageable.
- Knead until dough has acquired a "life of its own"; it should be smooth & elastic, springing back when pressed lightly with your fingertip.
- Place dough into a large oiled bowl turning the dough once so its oiled on all sides.
- Cover with a damp towel & let rise in a warm place for 2 hours, punching down in 4-5 places every 20 minutes.
- Now, I always write down what time I started so I don't forget when the 2 hours are up & set a timer every 20 minutes. (In the summer I let the dough rise on my balcony & in the winter in front of my oven where something is always baking, turning it every time I punch down the dough).
- After the 2 hours, turn your dough onto your working surface.
- Now comes the forming part.
- For Shabbos I always make a 2 level braided challah which looks great & is really easy.
- Prepare your baking sheet lining it with parchment paper.
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- First, take a large knife & cut the dough in half.
- Next, from each 1/2 now cut off a third & place the 2 thirds on the side.
- Now, from the first half (where you've removed a third) divide the remaining dough into approximately equal thirds.
- Roll each third out till its about 10-12 inches (I'm guessing I never measured it) & braid all 3 roll together pinching the top & bottom half together& turning them slightly under.
- Place on baking sheet.
- Repeat the same for other half.
- Now take the first third you removed earlier& divide in 3, braid just like you did before& place on top of the already braided challah.
- Repeat same for other third.
- Now let the challah rise for 1/2 an hour.
- After the challah has risen glaze with beaten egg & add mohn or sesame if you wish.
- Almost done!
- Put in preheated oven & let bake for exactly 25 minutes!
- Turn off oven & leave Challahs in for exactly another 10 minutes!
- Remove from oven.
- Enjoy--you deserve every compliment you get!