A traditional Jewish bread is similar to the French brioche.
Challah - Braided Egg Bread
- Combine 1/2 cup (125 ml) of the water with the yeast and 1 tsp (5 ml) of the sugar.
- Stir to dissolve the yeast and allow to rest in a warm place for 5 minutes, or until it becomes frothy.
- In a large mixing bowl combine 4 cups (1 L) of the flour, the remaining sugar, and the salt.
- Make a well in the center and add the yeast mixture, the remaining water, the 3 eggs, and 1/4 cup (60 ml) of the vegetable oil.
- Gently stir with a wooden spoon to combine, then beat vigorously until all the flour is absorbed.
- Add up to 2 cups (500 ml) more flour until the dough can be gathered into a soft ball.
- Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for about 15 minutes until the dough becomes smooth and elastic.
- Sprinkle as necessary with additional flour to keep it from sticking.
- Shape the dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl.
- Cover loosely with a dish towel and allow to rise in a warm place for about 45 minutes, until the dough has doubled in volume.
- Punch the dough down and knead for a few minutes to deflate completely.
- Return to the bowl and allow to rise for 15 minutes.
- Coat a large baking sheet with the remaining 1 teaspoon (5 ml) vegetable oil.
- Traditionally the bread is divided into quarters and braided in four parts, but this process is impossible for me to describe without the aid of illustrations.
- You will achieve acceptable results by dividing it into three parts, rolling each into a length of about 24 inches (60 cm), thicker in the middle and tapered at the ends, and braiding them.
- Pinch the dough together at both ends and carefully place the loaf on the baking sheet and let it rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes.
- Brush the top with the egg yolk and water mixture and bake in the middle of a pre-heated 400F (200C) oven for 15 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to 375F (180C) and bake an additional 30 to 40 minutes, or until the challah is crusty and golden brown.