This fantastic challah recipe comes from Chaya Wolvovsky, co-director of Chabad of Silver Spring, MD. The flavor is nicely balanced and the texture is light and airy. Sprinkle with traditional toppings like sesame and poppy seed or experiment with new ones like thinly sliced green olives, chopped onion or whatever you dream up. The recipe yields about six loaves giving you enough for your Shabbat table, take homes for guests and Sunday morning French toast. You can also freeze well-wrapped loaves for those weeks when you want homemade, but don’t have the time. Defrost and re-heat it unwrapped for a few minutes in the oven for that just-made smell and texture.
- 3 packages rapid rise dry yeast
- 4 cups warm water
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 5 pounds flour
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup oil
- Egg yolk for wash
- Topping of choice
- In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Add a sprinkle of sugar and let stand for 2 minutes. Meanwhile, mix sugar, salt and flour in a large bowl and make well in center. Add yeast mixture, then the wet ingredients, to the well. Mix by hand, then knead for 7-8 minutes. (You can cover hands with latex gloves to keep your hands and jewelry clean.) Let dough rise in greased bowl until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Or, if you plan to bake the dough the next day, place the dough in a large food safe plastic bag and let rise in refrigerator overnight. After rising, same or next day, punch down dough and divide into six sections. Shape each section into a multi-strand braid or a "pull apart" by placing 8 or so 3-inch balls of dough in a greased round baking pan. The balls should touch or almost touch each other. For loaves, place each shaped loaf on a greased pan or baking sheet. Allow to rise again until doubled in size, about 1 hour.*
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Beat egg yolk and add a few drops of water to make the egg wash. Brush loaves with egg wash and sprinkle with seeds or other topping. Bake 30–45 minutes until brown. Remove from pans and cool on racks.
- *Tip: If you're in a big rush and don’t have time for the dough to rise a second time, set oven to the baking temperature of 375 degrees. Turn off oven and place shaped challahs inside. Turn oven back on and bake as directed.