I love challah, I was raised Jewish and literally crave this bread all the time. Only problem is, it is SO expensive! So I searched and literally couldn't find a legit recipe: they want it to cook for an hour (what!), it wasn't eggy enough, no honey?? I could go on. So to remedy that, I made my own! It's light and dense at the same time, golden, sweet, eggy, only bakes for 30 minutes and is totally amazing. Hope you like it!
Note: I used a stand mixer for this recipe but it can easily be done by hand or with a hand mixer)
Start by letting your mixing bowl get warm by running it under hot water for a minute and then drying it off before adding anything to it.
Dump the cup of hot water, 1/3 cup sugar, and 2 yeast packets into the bowl and mix it up by hand and let it sit in a warm place for 10 minutes until foamy. (This activates the yeast)
In another bowl, mix the 2 whole eggs and the 2 egg yolks with the salt and honey until incorporated and let it sit while the yeast gets going. Save the egg whites for the egg wash.
After 10 minutes, add the melted butter to the yeast mixture and stir by hand. Then add the honey/egg mixture and give it a good stir by hand until you feel no honey stuck to the bottom of the bowl.
This is where the stand mixer comes in handy. Attach the bowl to the stand and add in 1 cup of bread flour and stir on medium/low with the paddle attachment until smooth-ish. Repeat with 1 cup of all purpose flour, again with read flour, and one more time with all purpose flour.
After all the flour has been mixed in, scrape the bowl with a spatula and le it go on medium for about a minute. It should be sticky and the dough should be loose and feathery. If it's still too runny (depending on climate)add in 1/4 cup more all purpose flour and mix one more time and you should be good to go.
Microwave a large glass mixing bowl and coat completely with vegetable oil- then add in the dough and toss it around a couple times until it's also coated with oil. Loosely cover with a piece of plastic wrap and let it sit in a warm, draft free place. I like to use a lightly warmed oven. (I'll turn it on the warm setting for a few minutes and then turn it off before putting the bowl in there.)Now just let the dough sit in there for 1 hour, no less.
Then take it out, punch it down and dump onto a clean, floured work surface to braid.I like to toss it in the flour a little to make it a little less sticky before attempting to braid, it makes a smaller mess.
after getting it nicely coated with flour, cut into 3 equal pieces for one loaf, or 6 equal pieces for 2 loaves.
Then roll out to about a 2 inch diameter and braid each. Once braided, pinch and tuck the ends under to make it pretty.
Now put it onto whatever pan you're using to make it. a half sheet pan works nicely for a full loaf or baking both small loaves at once. Put a piece of parchment paper on the pan (very necessary, trust me)and put the bread in the middle. Put it back in the oven for another 45 minutes to an hour to rise.
Remove the bread and heat the oven to 350. Once heated, bake the bread on the middle/top rack. Here's a little trick of mine. The bread bakes for 30 minutes total, however I do not apply the egg wash until it has baked for 10-12 minutes. This keeps it from getting it too brown. Another thing I do it right when it hits the color I want (which is at about 20 minutes) I rotate the pan and cover loosely with a foil tent. This stops the browning but allows the bread to remain nice and shiny and beautiful. After 30 minutes, take it out and remove it from the pan, but leave it on the parchment paper for 10 minutes before you tear, slice or anything. It keeps the bread more moist.
Enjoy!! It also makes AMAZING french toast, garlic bread, whatever :)