Favorite Challah

Makes 2 loaves, pareve

Adapted from: The Cuban Reuben

Fluffiest challah ever!
Favorite Challah, Shabbat, Lauren Monaco Illustration

2 1/4 tsp dry active yeast (1 packet)
1 1/2 tsp plus 1/4 cup sugar
3/4-1 cup warm water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs, divided
1 egg yolk
1 1/2 tsp table salt
4 cups bread flour (or less) Favorite Challah, Shabbat, Lauren Monaco Illustration

In a large bowl, add yeast, 1½ tsp sugar, and between ¾ to 1 cup of warm water, and mix until dissolved. Let sit for 10 minutes.

Mix in vegetable oil, 2 eggs (1 at a time) and egg yolk, with remaining sugar and salt.

Slowly mix in 3 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 cup at a time.

When the dough holds together, turn onto a floured surface and knead until smooth, adding the last ½ cup of flour if necessary. Use the least amount of flour as possible in order for the challah to be fluffy. The dough should may still be slightly wet in the middle when kneading.

Transfer dough to a greased bowl, cover with a towel, and let rise in a warm place for at least 1 hour.

Punch dough down, and leave it to rise again for 2 hours.

You can now either make 1 large challah or 2 smaller challahs. To make two smaller challahs, divide dough in half. Then divide each half into 4 or 6 pieces (depending on what kind of braid you are making). Roll each piece into approximately 12 inch strands, tapering each end of the strand. Braid loaf. See braiding diagrams here.

Place braided loaf on a greased baking sheet.

Use one egg to brush an egg wash over the top of the loaf. Let sit for one hour. The dough is ready to bake when you press your finger into the dough and the dough stays indented instead of immediately bouncing back.

Brush a second coat of egg wash on top of the loaf. Sprinkle poppy seeds, sesame seeds, or any other seeded topping on top of the loaf.

Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.

Note: For challah that is more airy, after dividing the dough for each individual strand, use a rolling pin to roll each piece into a flat rectangular shape about 1/4 inch thick. (At this point, you can spread a filling on top of the dough if you are making a filled challah.) Then roll each rectangle like a jellyroll, and work dough together to close the seams. Continue to braid challah strands normally.

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