We developed this bread for those who miss their Friday night Challah braids. This recipe has the distinction of being one of the few bread recipes that one actually can shape. For those who don’t know, Challah is an egg bread, very similar to brioche bread, but a bit denser. It stays very moist, for days, and is great for dunking in soups or using in bread puddings and other applications where a sturdy structure is called for. Challah is also very sweet. This makes a very large braid or two regular sized ones.
2 packets active dry yeast
2 1/2 c warm water or milk (90- 100 degrees)
1/2 tsp sugar for proofing yeast
2 T – 4Tb sugar (you may use more or less sugar depending on desired sweetness)
1 Tbsp salt
1 Stick (1/2 c or 8tbsp) butter or margarine, at room temp
4 large eggs and 1 egg yolk
5-6 cups (25-30 oz or 600-840g) Better Batter Gluten Free Flour
2 T milk or non dairy sub
* 2 tablespoons water or milk
* 2 teaspoons sugar
* 1 egg
* 1 yolk
Prepare a large cookie or baking sheet with a silicone liner (Silpat) or parchment paper. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
In a large bowl stir together the yeast, water, and pinch of sugar. Let stand five minutes to allow yeast to swell and dissolve. Briskly stir in sugar and salt. Then add margarine or butter, eggs, yolk and about five cups of the flour. Beat on high speed of electric stand mixer for 4 minutes. At this stage, the dough will be like sticky chocolate chip cookie dough. Divide into three or six blobs of dough, depending on desired size of finished challah.
Roll the blobs on a surface dusted with JUST enough extra leftover flour, up to a cup, to make the surface of each dough ball less sticky – do not knead any flour into the ball! The interior should still be very sticky. Alternately, you may beat the extra flour into the dough in the step above and then use melted margarine or oil on a surface. This will give you a slightly shinier finished product, but is a little stickier to work with. Working quickly on the floured/oiled surface, “roll” each part into rope approximately 1 1/2 inches thick and 13 inches long – you should work this like it was playdough or play clay – it will not stretch!!
If you are making two smaller challah, the size of the roll will reach approximately 6 1/2 inches in length. Transfer the rolls to the prepared cookie or baking sheet.
Take three strands at a time and braid them together, starting at the middle and working toward each end, on the cookie sheet or parchment paper. The important thing to know is that you will NOT pick this up when you are done with it. Pinch and tuck the ends under and let rise about 30-50 minutes. This braid should be no thicker than 2-3 inches in height and 4 inches in width to begin. Do not allow it to fully double – look for a slightly ‘puffy’ look on the surface of the dough and very small blisters under the surface.
In a small dish prepare the egg wash. Beat the water, sugar, egg, and egg yolk until smooth and brush on the loaf. This will create a shiny and dark brown surface. Bake for about 12-15 minutes, reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue to bake 25-35 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a rack (We like to keep it on the parchment paper or silpat when cooling it, too).
Allow to cool before slicing or tearing. This may be served slightly warm.
Can be frozen baked. If freezing let bread thaw slowly, overnight in the fridge and microwave or bake in a low oven briefly to freshen it.