Best braided bread: homemade challah recipe

The traditional bread of the Jewish Sabbath, this attractive loaf is braided and given a shiny coating of egg wash. Scrumptious the day it's baked, and you can use leftovers (if any) to make the best French toast you'll ever taste!

Best braided bread: homemade challah recipe

Challah recipe

Makes two loaves

  • 2 packets (8 g/1/4 oz) active dry yeast
  • 250 ml (1 c) warm water (43°C to 46°C/110°F to 115°F)
  • 125 ml (1/2 c) vegetable oil
  • 75 g (1/3 c) sugar
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) salt
  • 5 eggs
  • 1.5 to 1.65 kg (6 to 6 1/2 c) all-purpose flour
  • 5 ml (1 tsp) cold water
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) sesame or poppy seeds (optional)1. In a large bowl, combine the yeast with the warm water and stir until the yeast is dissolved. Add the oil, sugar, salt, four eggs and one kilogram (four cups) flour. Beat until all the ingredients are well blended and the consistency is smooth. Stir in enough of the remaining flour to form a firm dough.

    2. Lightly flour a work surface. Turn out the dough onto the work surface and knead until the dough is firm and elastic, six to eight minutes. Lightly grease a bowl with butter or oil, place the dough in the bowl and turn it once to coat the entire ball. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise in a warm place until it is doubled in size, about one hour.

    3. Punch down the dough, turn it onto another floured work surface and divide the dough in half. Divide each portion into thirds. Roll each piece into a 38-centimetre-long (15-inch-long) rope.

    4. Lightly grease a baking sheet. Place three dough ropes on the sheet, pinching them together at one end. Braid the ropes together and pinch the opposite ends to seal them, then tuck the pinched ends under at both ends. Repeat with the remaining dough ropes to make a second loaf. Cover the loaves with a cloth and let rise until doubled in size, about one hour.

    5. Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F). In a small bowl, beat the remaining egg with the cold water. Brush the egg mixture over the loaves. If desired, sprinkle the loaves with sesame or poppy seeds. Bake the loaves until they are golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove the loaves from the baking sheet to wire racks and let cool completely.

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