Finally, after several runs at Karen’s recipe, I arrived at the loftiest and most delicious and easy to follow recipe for challah and here it is:
3/4 cup sugar
2-1/2 tsp instant dry yeast
2-1/8 cups of lukewarm water
1/4 cup oil
1 Tbsp salt
8 cups white bread flour [do NOT use all purpose flour]
oil for greasing
1 lightly beaten egg for egg wash
poppy seeds or sesame seeds for sprinkling [optional]
• Place the first six ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
• Add 5 cups of bread flour.
• Mix to combine.
• Transfer dough to a well-floured board and gradually kneed the remaining three cups of bread flour into the dough.
• If you don’t have a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment, omit the following six steps and kneed the dough by hand for ten minutes.
• If you have a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment, divide the dough into 3 equal parts.
• Place one part into a stand mixer.
• With the dough hook attachment kneed the dough for five minutes.
• Place the kneaded dough on the board. The dough will no longer stick.
• One by one knead the remaining dough.
• When all three parts are kneaded, combine them by hand.
• Slap the dough down on the board 100 times. This fully develops the gluten.
• When you push down, the dough should feel firm and push back.
• Transfer to a large oiled bowl, turn to coat, and let rise, covered, until dough has tripled in volume.
• The dough is fully risen when an indentation made with a finger into the center remains and does not recede.
• Punch down the dough, and divide into 2 or 3 pieces [depending on the size of challah you prefer to make. This time I made three.
• Form the dough into balls, cover, and let them rise for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
• Punch down again and using your palms roll 6 long ropes from each ball of dough, tapering the ends to a point. You don’t need to flour the board, but if you must, dust with the smallest amount of flour only. Flour makes rolling and braiding difficult.
• By the time all the strands are rolled out, the first six you have rolled are ready for braiding.
• Place the 6 ropes in a fan shape and pinch the pointy end of the fan together.
• Pick a side, it doesn’t matter which side you start braiding.
• 1. The inside one you picked goes all the way to the end.
• 2. The outside one goes in the middle.
• 3. Now go over to the other side.
• 4. The inside strand goes all the way to the end.
• 5. The outside one goes in the middle.
• 6. Now go over to the other side.
• Repeat the six steps until you run out of dough.
• Tuck the ends under.
• Transfer the braided the challahs to the prepared baking sheets.
• Brush with the egg wash, using care to cover completely, but do not let excess egg drip into the crevices.
• Let the egg wash dry and sprinkle with poppy seeds or sesame seeds if desired.
• Let the challahs double in size.
• Preheat the oven to 350°F.
• Brush with egg wash a second time.
• Bake for 25 to 35 minutes on the middle shelf of the oven until the loaves have a rich mahogany color and emit a hollow sound when tapped lightly on the bottom.
• If the top begins to brown excessively and the bottom is raw, cover the bread with a sheet of parchment paper or tent it with aluminum foil.
• To test for doneness, press lightly between the braids on the highest part of the bread; it should be firm.
• If you feel the creases give when lightly pressed, continue baking until they firm up.
• Let the challah cool on a wire rack.
Making the Dough with a KitchenAid Mixer:
Mixing the Wet Ingredients
Adding the Flour
Knead the Dough
Making the Dough by Hand:
Making Dough by Hand
Prepare the Challah Dough to Rise
Shaping the Challah:
Shaping the Three Strand Challah
Shaping the Four Strand Challah
Shaping the Six Strand Challah Part 1
Shaping the Six Strand Challah Part 2
Shaping the Round Challah
Baking the Challah:
Egg Wash and Baking