The recipe I use is from The Bread Bible and once again it is fairly advanced. I promise the next bread recipe will be far more simple. That said, I like her version because the substitution of honey for sugar creates a moist crumb unlike most challah breads which can be a little too dry. I did a four-strand braid, but a three-strand works well too. If you do three, just start at the middle and work out to each end, braiding much like if it was someone’s hair. The recipe is below, but let’s pick up from the hard part.
Divide dough into four equal balls and let rest covered for 10 minutes.
Using the palms of your hands, gently roll each ball into a roughly 15-inch strand. Taper the ends shorter than the center as you roll.
Press all four strands together tightly. Once the braiding begins tuck them under to create a nicer appearance.
Take the outside strand and pull it under both of the two inside strands. Try not to flatten the dough as you do this.
Take the outside strand and wrap it over the second strand in the middle closest to the other side. Then repeat the process from the other side. Basically you alternate taking each outside strand under the two middle strands and then over the middle strand farther away from the side you started on.
Continue until out of dough. Try and do this as quickly as possible because the dough will rise fairly fast. At the same time you need to be gentle so as to not force out too much air. I did say this was another advanced bread.
Brush with egg and let rise for an hour before baking.
- 1 cup unbleached white flour
- 1 tsp yeast
- 2/3 cup warm water
- 2 tbsp honey
- 3 large eggs room temp
The night before mix all ingredients for starter. Cover tightly and let sit for 10 hours.
- 4 2/3 cups unbleached white flour
- 1 ¼ tsp yeast
- 1 tbsp salt
- 2 large eggs cold
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 6 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp cider vinegar
Mix flour and yeast well. Add salt and mix again. Scoop over sponge and cover tightly. Let stand for four hours. Add all other ingredients and mix with hands until a rough dough forms. Turn out on counter cover and let rest twenty minutes. Using as little extra flour as possible, knead dough until smooth and slightly tacky, about five minutes. Place in oiled bowl and cover. Let rise until doubled, about 1 ½ hours. Press down gently keeping as much air in the dough and cover again. Let rise a second time until doubled about 45 minutes. Shape dough as seen above. Brush lightly with egg mixed with water, cover and refrigerate until doubled about 2 hours. Brush heavily with more egg wash and bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. Cover bread with foil and continue to bake until done about 25 minutes more.