Challah is the traditional Sabbath bread of the Jews. It is rich egg-laden bread. Traditionally it is braided and baked free form on a baking sheet or baking stone. A beautiful Artisan Bread.
Cooking Time: 20 - 25 minutes approximately
3/4 cup warm milk not hot
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons cooking oil
3/4 teaspoons salt
3 1/4 cups bread flour approximately
1 slightly beaten egg
1 1/2 teaspoon poppy or sesame seeds
Pre-heat oven to 375 F
In large bowl, combine the first seven ingredients until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. You made need more or less flour. You want only a soft dough ball. You may have to add more flour or water a little at a time. Dough should be soft but firm enough to knead.
Turn out the dough to a lightly greased surface. Lightly oil your hands, and knead it for 5 to 6 min., or until it begins to become smooth and supple.
Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with a warm damp cloth. Allow the dough to rise about 1 hour. Dough should be close to double in size. I place bread dough on top of my stove where it will stay warm. This decreases the proofing time.
Punch down the dough cover and let rest for 10 minutes.
Lightly oil a baking sheet.
Divide the dough into three equal pieces. Shape each piece of dough into an 18 inch rope.
Place the ropes 1 inch apart on the oiled baking pan.
Starting in the middle, loosely braid the three ropes together.
Press the ends together to seal them. Tuck the ends under the loaf.
Cover the pan loosely with lightly oiled plastic wrap. Leave the bread to rise for about 35 – 45 minutes more. It will be ready to bake when double in size.
Brush the beaten eggs over the loaf and sprinkle with the seeds.
Place the Challah Bread into the oven. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. The Challah Bread will sound hollow when tapped when it is ready. If needed cover loosely with tinfoil for the last 10 minutes to avoid over-browning.
Remove the Challah Bread from the oven, and turn it out of the pan onto a cooling rack or clean dry cloth. If you would like a softer crust rub the top of the loaf with butter while still hot.
Let cool completely before slicing.
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