Challah Bread is a delicious, yeast-enriched egg bread that holds significant religious meaning. Enjoy it during Hanukkah or family Sunday dinner.
- 1 tablespoon (.25 ounce packet) active dry yeast
- 1 cup lukewarm water
- 4 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1⁄4 cup honey
- 2 large eggs
- 1 large egg yolk (reserve the white for the egg wash)
- 1⁄4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 egg white
- 1 tablespoon water
- Sprinkle the yeast over the water in a small bowl. Swirl gently to dissolve. If a thin frothy layer does not form, your yeast might no longer be active.
- In the bowl of your stand mixer, mix together 4 cups of the flour and the salt.
- Add the honey, eggs, yolk and oil and mix with a spoon to form a shaggy dough. Pour the yeast mixture over the egg slurry and mix until combined.
- Using the dough hook attachment, knead the dough on low speed for 6-8 minutes. If the dough seems very sticky or does not create a smooth ball that pulls away from the sides of the bowl, add flour a spoonful at a time until it is just in between sticky and dry. Stop kneading the dough when it is soft, smooth and holds a ball-shape.
- Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and place somewhere warm. Let the dough rise until doubled in size, 1-2 hours depending on how warm the environment is. Punch the dough (this is the best part!).
- Divide the dough into six equal pieces. Roll each of the six pieces to equal lengths, 12-15 inches long. They will try to shrink back so give them the occasional pull. Make them a bit smaller on the ends.
- To braid the dough, squeeze the ends together on one side. Spread out all six ropes. Always starting from the rope on the far right side, pull it over two strands, under the third, and then over the last two strands. Reposition all of the dough ropes such that you can repeat this pattern, again using the rope that's on the far right hand side. Repeat this weave until the entire loaf has formed and then squeeze the ends together to seal. Tuck both ends on both sides of loaf underneath. You can either freeze the dough at this point or bake it.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment and transfer the loaf on top. Dust the loaf with a little flour and loosely cover it with plastic wrap or a clean dishcloth. Place the pan somewhere warm and away from drafts, allowing it to rise for about an hour.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix the remaining egg white with about a tablespoon of water and gently brush the entire surface of the loaf, taking care not to deflate.
- Bake for 25-35 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through cooking, until the loaf is deeply browned in color.
- Allow the loaf to cool on a cooling rack until just barely warm. Store in airtight container.