Traditional Jewish egg-based braided bread … It’s amazing!
- (This can be made in your bread machine, just use the above ingredients and follow the directions for your machine.)
- 1. In the bowl of your stand mixer, pour in 1 cup of hot water. Make sure the water is hot but not boiling! If it boils, it will kill the yeast. Also add 1/2 cup of honey and the yeast. Let it sit in the bowl for at least 5 minutes to allow the yeast to proof.2. In a separate bowl, mix together 4 cups of all-purpose flour and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and set aside.3. In another bowl or measuring cup, mix together 2 eggs and 1/4 cup of vegetable oil and set aside.4. After the yeast has proofed for 5 minutes, slowly stir in the egg and oil mixture. Then, with the mixer on low speed, stir in the dry ingredients, one cup at a time. Give the dry ingredients time to mix in before adding the next cup. If you still feel the dough is too sticky or wet, add in another 1/2 cup of flour. If you feel it is too dry, pour in another tablespoon of hot water.5. Once the dough is mixed together and has formed a nice smooth dough ball in the mixer, turn the speed up one setting and allow the mixer to do the kneading for you for 3 minutes.6. Once the dough is kneaded, take it out of the bowl with your hands, take the bowl off the mixer and spray the bowl with some cooking spray. Smooth the dough by turning it down on itself and then toss it in the cooking spray coated bowl and leave the smooth side up. Put the bowl in a warm place (I put mine on the stove underneath the stove light) and cover lightly with a clean tea towel.7. Let the dough sit and rise for 1 hour. After an hour, punch it down lightly with your fingertips. Cover it again with the towel and let it rise for another hour.8. Once the second hour has passed, preheat your oven to 350°F.9. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board. Here is where you can go two different ways.10. For 2 regular sized loaves: If you want to make 2 loaves, split the dough in half. Split each half into thirds so you can braid it into a traditional challah. Stretch the thirds into long snakes (about 10-12 inches long). Lay the three “snakes” next to each other and pinch the top of the 3 strips tightly together. Then just braid the challahs like you would braid hair, simply by crossing the “snakes” over one another. Once it is braided, pinch the bottom end together tightly and then tuck both ends under themselves. That will just keep them from coming apart as they bake. Repeat with the other loaf. Carefully transfer the loaves onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet and then let them rest and rise for another 30 minutes.11. For 6 individual sized loaves: If you want to make 6 individual challah loaves, cut the dough into sixths. Then cut each sixth into thirds if you want to braid them like I did. See the instructions above about braiding. You can also just roll each sixth into a long snake and roll it up like a spiral. Transfer the loaves onto 2 parchment paper lined baking sheets and let them rest for 30 minutes.12. As they are resting, mix together 2 eggs with 2 tablespoons of water to make an egg wash. Lightly brush the challah loaves with the egg wash and then place them in the preheated oven. Bake the loaves for 10 minutes and then brush again with the egg wash. Bake for another 10 minutes and brush again. Why all the egg wash brushing, you ask? Simply because it gives them a beautiful shine and brown color! Bake for another 5 minutes. At this point, the little loaves should be finished. If not, then bake for 2 minute periods until they are cooked. The larger loaves will probably need a total of 30-35 minutes. When done remove them from the oven and you are ready to go.