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 Dough by Hand
Prepare the Challah Dough to Rise
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
Egg Wash and Baking