- Yield: 4 pieces
What’s wonderful about challah is that it can be used in so many ways: to sanctify the Sabbath, of course, but just as important, to make French toast, grilled cheese, and croutons and as breading in meatballs. For those of you who want to stay away from milk, it’s fine to substitute water.
- 2 1/2cups whole milk or water
- 8 2/3cups all-purpose flour, plus flour for work surface
- 1 1/2tablespoons active dry yeast
- 1/2cup honey or sugar
- 1/4cup canola oil
- 4large eggs
- 1 1/2tablespoons kosher salt
- White sesame or nigella seeds for sprinkling
- Heat milk in small saucepan over low heat just until it’s warm to the touch. Remove from heat. Dump flour into large bowl and make a well in the center. Add yeast to well along with a few drops of honey and 1/2 cup or so of warm milk. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.
- In separate bowl, combine remaining milk and honey, oil, and 3 eggs. Stir together. Add salt and stir again. Gradually stir liquid mixture into flour, about 1/2 cup at a time. When dough becomes sticky and difficult to stir, dump onto floured surface and knead by hand, adding a little more flour if necessary to keep it from sticking, until smooth and elastic.
- Knead dough into ball. Slick another large bowl with oil, add dough, and turn to slick surface with oil. Cover with damp cloth and let stand in a warm place until double in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
- Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Gently punch dough down and turn it onto floured surface. Divide dough into four equal portions, working with one portion at a time and keeping the rest covered with a damp cloth. Divide one portion of dough into three equal pieces and roll each piece into a rope about 1 foot long and slightly tapered at the ends. Line ropes side by side on one side of baking sheet and braid them, pinching ends to seal and tucking them underneath. Repeat this process with remaining dough until you have four nicely braided loaves. Cover with damp cloth and let stand until nearly double in size, another 25 minutes or so.
- Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly beat remaining egg and brush it over tops of challah loaves. Sprinkle with nigella or sesame seeds. Bake loaves until golden brown, 20 to 30 minutes.
Excerpted from Balaboosta by Einat Admony (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2013.