- 1 packet yeast (which is 2 tsp. and a 1/4 tsp)
- 1 ½ tsp. sugar
- ¾ to 1 C. warm
- but not boiling water
- ¼ C. vegetable oil
- 4 eggs
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 ½ tsp. table salt
- 4 C. flour (or less)
Prepare the yeast:
In the bowl of a standing mixer (or large bowl if dough will be kneaded by hand), combine 1 packet yeast (which is 2 tsp. and a ¼ tsp.), 1 ½ tsp. sugar, ¾ to 1 C. warm, but not boiling water. Let sit for about 10 minutes. Mixture will get foamy and rise and have little bubbles on the top. If it doesn’t, throw it out and start over.
¼ C. vegetable oil
4 eggs, divided
1 egg yolk
1 ½ tsp. table salt
4 C. flour (or less)
To yeast mixture, add in oil, two eggs (one at a time), one egg yolk, and remaining sugar and salt.
Slowly add flour, ½ c. at a time. Keep adding flour until the dough adheres to itself and is not too sticky to the touch. At this point, switch to the bread hook or turn out dough on a floured cutting board and knead by hand for about 10 minutes. Add flour as needed so the dough does not stick to your hands. Test dough to see that it is springy and responsive. Poke it with one finger - dough should slowly bounce back to its shape.
Set dough in a bowl that has been sprayed with Pam or oiled, cover with a dish towel or plastic wrap and let rise 1.5 to 2 hours.
Punch dough down and let rise again for two hours if time allows. (It’s OK if you make it in the morning and punch it when you get home from work and don’t have time to let rise again. You can also make the dough the night before and let it sit in the fridge. Then take out in the morning and let it rise during the day.)
You can now either make 1 large challah or 2 smaller ones. To make one large challah, about an hour to two hours before you want to serve it, take the dough out of the bowl and divide it into 6 pieces and roll into approximately 12-in. strands. Braid the dough by pinching the top of the strands together. Take the strand all the way to the right and move it over to the left of the other 2 strands. Take the strand that is second to the left and move it all the way over to the right. Now take the strand that is all the way over to the left and move it to the right. Take the strand that is second from the right and move it all the way to the left. Repeat this process until the challah is completely braided. Pinch ends and tuck them under the loaf. Place braided loaf on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
Beat one egg or remove yolk to use only the white and brush the challah with the egg wash. Let sit for one hour.
Use another egg to brush a second coat of egg wash. Sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds or any other seeded topping you want.
Bake challah at 350° from 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown and a tester comes out clean. Let cool for about 10 minutes on a baking rack. Serve warm. Shabbat Shalom!