Challah bread is a traditional Jewish bread that is braided and served on the Sabbath, The braids are made to look like arms intertwined, symbolizing love and unity. This bread is slightly sweet from the honey and rich from the eggs. It’s similar to brioche, and would make excellent french toast, but is also so good with butter and honey warm out of the oven on Easter morning.
4 cups bread flour or all purpose flour
3 teaspoons instant yeast
2 teaspoons salt
5 tablespoons honey
1/3 cup olive oil
2 large eggs + 2 large egg yolks
2/3 cup water
1 large egg yolk, for glazing
Making the dough:
Warm the water to 115 F.
Place the bread flour in a large mixing bowl and add the salt and yeast on opposite sides of the bowl, stirring in each one with your finger. Pour in the honey, olive oil, eggs, and yolks.
Gradually add the warm water as you mix on low speed with the paddle attachment of a stand mixer (or by hand), trickling in a little at a time to create soft, slightly sticky dough. You may not need all the water.
Knead on medium-low speed with the dough hook for 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth, no longer sticky, and has a glossy sheen on its surface. You may need to add a spoonful or two of flour to get the right consistency. (Alternatively, turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead for 10 to 15 minutes.)
Shape the dough into a ball, place in an oiled bowl, and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm place until about doubled size, approximately 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Shaping the dough:
Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and punch it down all over to knock out excess gas.
Divide the dough into 5 equal pieces.
Roll each piece into a rope about 20 inches long. If you’re having trouble rolling out the strands, let them rest for a couple minutes while you work on another strand. This will relax the gluten, allowing them to roll out more easily.
Line up the 5 ropes side by side, then squeeze them together at the top to join. Split the strands into two groups: a group of two on the left, and a group of three on the right.
Begin the braiding by crossing over the third strand from the second group and placing it beside the second strand in the first group. Then, cross over the first strand from the first group and place it beside the first strand in the second group. Repeat this process until the whole challah is braided, then pinch the ends to seal and tuck the ends underneath. Gently pick up the loaf and place it on a lightly floured 11 by 17-inch cookie sheet.
Let the challah prove in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
About 10 minutes before the bread is done proving, preheat the oven to 375 F.
Beat the egg yolk with a little water to thin it, then brush it on the risen challah.
Bake at 375 F for 10 minutes. Check the bread without opening the door, and if it’s getting too dark, cover it with aluminum foil.
Lower the temperature to 325 F and bake for another 15-20 minutes. The bread should be a rich golden brown and have an internal temperature of 190 degrees.
Let the challah cool completely on a wire rack before slicing and serving to allow the crumb structure to set, about 1 hour. Serve with salt or butter.
Recipe Source: Savor the Flavour