I make this challah for my family and family gatherings in Colorado, and it turns out beautifully each time. I hope you enjoy it as much as my family does! If you'd like, sprinkle poppy or sesame seeds before baking, but I never do. Videos for instructions on how to braid a six-strand challah can be found by entering "braiding a 6-strand challah" into the Search box at http://www.youtube.com (I originally saw the one by MayaSophia, on her blog). I always braid mine with the six-strand method now (shown in my picture), because it looks so pretty! *NOTE*: Prep time does NOT include time it take for the dough to rise.
- Combine the warm water, 1/2 teaspoon of sugar and the yeast in a measuring cup. Let stand until the yeast dissolves and starts to foam, 5 to 10 minutes.
- In a large bowl, beat 2 eggs. Put the egg yolks in a 1/3 measuring cup and add enough milk to equal 1/3 cup with the yolks in it. Pour this into the bowl with the eggs and pour in the yeast mixture, butter, salt, and remaining (2 tablespoons + 2 1/2 tsp.) sugar. Gradually mix in the flour until the dough is firm enough to handle.
- Knead the dough on a floured surface until the dough does not stick to your hands. You will probably use more flour while kneading.
- Place the dough into an oiled bowl and turn to coat. Cover and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
- Cut the dough into 3 even portions and roll into long ropes. Press one set of ends together, and braid and tuck the other set of ends under, pressing gently (see the intro, above, for a video link to braiding a six-strand challah).
- Place the loaf on a greased baking sheet and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Set in a warm place to rise. Bread is ready to bake when your finger leaves an impression in the dough.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Whisk the remaining egg in a small bowl. Brush onto the loaf. This will give the bread a lovely golden color and delicious crust.
- Bake until the loaf is golden and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom, about 35 minutes. Remove from the baking sheet and cool on a wire rack.
- *To make rolls: Follow the steps to prepare the dough, and let it rise until it is doubled in size. Divide the dough into 15-16 even pieces (about 2 oz. [weight] each), and craft into desired shape. Brush with egg wash (as you would the bread), and bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.
This was delicious, even though I forgot the salt! Just gives me an excuse to make it again. We're at about 8,000 feet and it came out pretty well--probably not as tall as it would have been at a lower altitude, but certainly a decent (huge!) loaf.