The really great thing about this challah recipe is that you don’t have to pay attention to the time. It’s a great recipe if you have time to make the dough and no time to rise it twice and then bake it. We love the texture but now I need to fool around with additions. I would love to add onions, but the dough is so wet to begin with that I’m a bit scared. The smaller recipe (ingredients on the left) will make two loaves, the larger (ingredients on the right), four loaves. A loaf will work for about 4-5 people.
- 1 ½ t or 2 Tablespoons yeast
- 2 teaspoons or 1 ½ Tablespoons kosher salt
- 2 or 4 eggs
- ¼ or ½ c honey
- ¼ or ½ c margarine, melted
- ¾ or 1 ¾ c warm water (about 100 deg.)
- 3-4 or 7-8 c bread flour
Mix the yeast, salt, eggs, honey and melted margarine with the water inthe bowl of a stand mixer that has a dough attachment. Gradually add in the flour. The dough will be very sticky and will not turn into a ball. Add enough flour so that it is a dough, and not a batter though.
Cover the bowl. Loosely and put it in a warm spot to rise. In fact, you are going to let it over rise. I usually make it early in the evening and ignore it until I go to bed. You will know it has over risen because as soon as you move the bowl, it will collapse in upon itself. This is what you want. Do not punch the dough down, just let it collapse. At this point, the dough gets refrigerated for 1-5 days in the same bowl it rose in. Just cover it loosely.
On baking day, preheat the oven to 425 and prepare your baking sheet with parchment. Take the bowl from the fridge and remove the dough by scraping it away from the sides. If you are making the small quantity, cut it in half, otherwise, cut it in fourths. Take one of the portions of dough with your hands and flatten it onto a floured surface. You are now going to roll it into a 9X14 rectangle. This is very difficult, because the glutens are cold and resistant, but persevere.
Using a sharp knife cut the dough in to three strips each about 3 inches wide. Keeping the strips flat on the work surface, gently coax them into a braid. Do not twist them, leave them flat on the table as you braid, and don’t pull them out of shape. When you get to the end, pinch the strands together, but try to keep them flat.
Place the braid on the baking sheet. Two braids will fit on a sheet. When I make four breads, I make two and leave the rest of the dough in the fridge until I want it. Do not allow the braids to rise a second time, they are ready to bake immediately. Place the baking sheet in to oven for 10 minutes. At this point, remove it from the oven, put on the egg wash and the seeds of your choice and return to the oven for another 8-10 minutes. This last 8-10 minutes is when the bread will rise, so don’t panic. Remove and cool on a rack.