Beth Ricanati. Braided: A Journey of A Thousand Challahs The Self-Care Challah Recipe
Yields 2 challahs
2¼ tsp loose yeast + 1 tsp sugar + 1 cup very warm water (almost too warm, but not hot!)
2 tsp salt
¼ cup sugar
⅓ cup oil
4+ cups flour
One egg yolk for baking
Start by saying: “I am making this dough in the merit of (maybe a friend who is sick that week, or someone you are happy for, sad for, mad at, etc.)
Mix yeast, sugar and warm water together in small bowl (1); let stand ~ 10 min. This mixture will start to bubble.
Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, mix 2 eggs, salt, sugar, oil a nd2 cups flour together (2). Add yeast mixture (1) to flour mixture (2). Add 1½ cups of flour to mixture. Dough should start to form a ball, separating from the bowl.
Place dough on a floured surface and knead, lifting up with one hand & then the other. Knead at least 5 minutes, as dough becomes increasingly elastic. If still sticky, add a bit more flour to dough. Knead dough into a ball.
Place dough back into oiled bowl, cover and place bowl somewhere warm for 1 – 1½ hours to rise, doubling in volume.
Preheat oven to 375º. Remove cover from bowl and place dough on floured surface.
Take a small piece of dough (about the size of an egg), double wrap in plastic wrap and say the prayer over separating the challah (technically only say if more than 5 pounds of flour used, but more on that later)*. Discard this piece of wrapped dough and continue.
Punch out dough one more time. Cut dough in half, one for each challah. Then divide each half into 3 equal pieces. Roll out each piece, crimp together at the top and braid into a loaf. Place on a greased cookie sheet. Repeat with second ball of dough. May let rise again at this step.
Paint each challah with a mixture made of egg yolk beaten with a little water. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until bread rises and is golden brown. Remove, cool. Place challah on platter, cover and wait for Shabbas dinner. Eat and enjoy!
*Baruch Ata A-Do-Nay Elo-haynu Melech Ha-Olam Asher Kidishanu B’Mitzvotav V’Tziyvanu L”Hafrish Challah. (Blessed are You, Lord, our G-d, Ruler of the Universe, Who has sanctified us with Your commandments and commanded us to separate the Challah.)