Challah is a wonderful bread served traditionally on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, or Jewish New Year. It is dipped in honey, and before being eaten, a prayer is recited. The bread is very tasty, and besides its religious purpose, is wonderful in a variety of ways.
- 3 packages yeast
- 1 1/3 Cups warm water (110 to 115 degrees F.)
- 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 Tablespoons softened margarine/butter
- 3 large eggs lightly beaten
- 6 Cups unbleached white flour
- 1 egg; well beaten with 1 Tablespoon water
- poppy seeds (optional)
- Add 1 Tablespoon sugar and yeast to warm water, stir well and "proof" the yeast (the old-fashioned way to do this).
- After the yeast proofs, add rest of the sugar, margarine/butter, 3 lightly beaten eggs, and five cups flour.
- As you stir together, add salt (done this way because salt can kill yeast if added directly). Beat ingredients with a spoon, gradually adding flour, until dough is stiff.
- Knead on board until dough is smooth and elastic (8 to 10 minutes).
- Cover and let rise in warm place -- until about doubled in size (1 1/2 to 2 hours).
- Punch down and knead dough until all the bubbles are gone.
- Divide into 6 parts, roll each part between your hands into a rope about 1-inch in diameter.
- Braid 3 ropes each into 2 loaves. Place two braids about 6" apart on a buttered/margarined cookie sheet, and allow to rise in a warm place until almost doubled in size.
- Brush tops with egg/water wash and sprinkle lightly with poppy seeds (seeds are optional).
- Bake in pre-heated 400 degrees F. oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until loaves sound hollow when tapped. Cool covered with a soft towel on racks.
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