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- 2 Tbsp
- active dry yeast (red star)
- 2 1/4 c
- lukewarm water
- 1/2 c
- sugar (1 teaspoon will be used first)
- 4 medium
- eggs, beaten, plus 2 yolks or 1 whole egg for glazing
- 1 Tbsp
- 1/2 c
- canola oil
- 9 1/4 c
- flour (king arthur bread flour)
- sesame seeds, optional, (for garnish on top of bread)
- 1/2 c
- honey (optional but i use it)
- 2 Tbsp
- vanilla extract, optional but i do use it, (make sure it's pure authentic vanilla) this is the secret ingredient!
1Dissolve the yeast in a medium bowl with the lukewarm water and 1 teaspoon of the sugar. Beat and let it stand for 10 minutes.
2In a large bowl (with enough space to mix and knead the dough), beat the 4 eggs. Then, add the honey and mix again. Then, add the salt, sugar, oil, vanilla extract, and beat again. Add the frothy yeast mixture to the large bowl. (The yeast mixture should have risen, this is how you check your yeast is OK). Beat well.
3Now add the flour slowly to the mixture. First mixing with a wooden spoon and then with your hands. The total kneading time should be around 15 minutes. If you find that your dough is sticky, or hard then add more oil. I always add more canola oil to make the dough smooth and elastic. I use my hand as a measuring tool and add 3 measures of my hand holding the oil to the dough. This will give you a smooth and nice dough. Work it on a ball, and put some oil on the bowl rubbing it all over the dough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave overnight inside the oven. It will rise a lot.
5Braiding Technique: (This step takes me 1 1/2 hours but I also work with 4 strand challahs & add Nutella to each strand). Next you will take one of the pieces and divide in 4 (cut half and then vertically for symmetric pieces) or in 3 pieces depending how you want to braid your Challah. Roll each piece between your palms and pull into long thin ropes about 18 inches long and 1 1/4 inches wide. Start braiding. I find this video explains the 4-strand braiding technique perfectly:youtube.com/watch?v=4RvoqkYaUWo&....
6Oil a baking sheet (I prefer to use glass pirex) and place the braided dough there. Do this for the other 3 pieces. Let them stand for 1 hour or until doubled in bulk (here in SC during winter takes approx. 2 hours). Now brush each bread with the beaten egg (this will give the bread a nice shine) and sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Bake for 25 minutes, checking the bread after the 22 minutes. The bread is done if it sounds "hollow" when you tap it on the base. It should be golden on top. If you find it needs more cooking, put aluminum foil on top the bread to avoid burning its top and leave it for 5 more minutes. I bake 2 loaves at the time and use the middle section of the oven. Enjoy :)