Yield: 1 large loaf or 2 smaller loaves
Prep Time: 35 min + rising times
Cook Time: 45 min
One .25-ounce envelope active dry yeast
2 tablespoons granulated white sugar
1 1/2 cups warm water (110 to 115 degrees F), divided
5 cups all-purpose flour, divided
2 teaspoons salt
2 large eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
1 large egg yolk, slightly beaten
2 tablespoons poppy seeds, optional
1. In a small bowl, combine the yeast, 2 tablespoons sugar, and 1/4 cup warm water in a small bowl. Let stand for 5 minutes until yeast is foamy.
2. Sift 4 1/2 cups flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center of the dough and drop in eggs, oil, remaining 1 1/4 cups water, 1/2 cup sugar and yeast mixture. Work the liquids into the dough mixture with your hands.
3. Turn the dough onto floured board (or silicone mat), and knead until smooth and elastic- 5 to 8 minutes. Place in a mixing bowl and brush the top with additional oil. Cover loosely with a clean dishtowel and let sit in a warm place to rise for one hour.
4. Punch down the dough, cover and let it rise again until it has doubled in bulk. Turn the dough out onto the floured board. Divide the dough into 3 equal parts to make one large loaf, or six equal parts to make two smaller loaves.
5. Flour your hands, then roll each piece of dough into a strip so that they are all of equal length. Braid and place loaves on greased cookie sheet. Cover and let rise until double in size.
6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Brush the bread with egg yolk and sprinkle with poppy seeds (if desired). Bake 45-50 minutes, or until golden brown.
*Leftover challah bread makes great French Toast!