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Jane's Favorite Challah

Jane Moritz, Challah Connection Owner has been baking Challah since she was a girl, when she learned how from her Mom, Becky. After many attempts at various recipes, this is her favorite.

Jane's time-saving tip: If you have a bread machine, use it to make the dough. However, be sure to take it out of the machine at the end of the dough cycle and form it and let it rise again before baking. The Challah will be as good as if you kneaded it by hand!

Another Tip from Jane: Use King Arthur Flour This recipe will make 2 smaller Challah or 1 large.

Sponge:

  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 11/4 cup warm water
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast

Dough:

  • 3 1/2 cups unbleached flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs plus 1 yolk (save 1 egg white for the wash, below)

Wash:

  • 1 egg white
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • Poppy seeds (optional)

Instructions to make the Sponge:

Mix the flour, water and yeast together in a large bowl and let it sit for about 45 minutes (it will rise)

To make the dough: Add the dough ingredients to the starter and mix and knead together--by hand, mixer or bread machine--until a smooth, supple dough is formed. Place the dough in a greased bowl, turning it over once to coat it lightly with oil. Cover and let rise for 1 1/2 hours, or until it has doubled in size. (Depending on weather or kitchen temperature, it could take longer).

To shape the dough: Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and fold it over once or twice to gently deflate it. Divide the dough into three or four pieces, roll to about 18 inches each. On a lightly greased or parchment lined baking sheet, braid a 3 or 4 strand braid.

NOTE: How To Make A Four-Strand Braid: Lay the strands side by side, and pinch them together at one end. For instruction purposes, think of the far left strand as #1, next is #2, then #3, and the far right is #4. Take the left-hand strand (#1) and move it to the right over strands #2 and #3, then tuck it back under strand #3. Take the right-hand strand (#4) and move it to the left over strands #3 and #1, then tuck it back under strand #1. Repeat this process until finished.

To make the wash: in a small bowl, mix together the reserved egg white, sugar, and water. Brush the loaf with this mixture, reserving some for a second wash. Cover the loaf with lightly greased plastic wrap and allow it to rise for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until it's almost doubled in size.

Baking:

Brush the loaf with the remaining egg wash (this will give the finished loaf a beautiful, shiny crust, as well as provide "glue" or the seeds), sprinkle with poppy seeds, if desired, and bake in a preheated 375°F oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the challah is lightly browned. Remove it from the oven, and cool completely before slicing. Yield: 1 loaf, about 16 1-inch slices.