Classic Challah

For the New Year: Old World Tastes and Modern Methods
October 22, 2018
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Yield: makes 6 medium challahs

Prep Time:

20 minutes

Storage:

store at room temperature for 2 days; may freeze for up to 3 months

Ingredients

4 1-ounce packets dry yeast

1/2 cup warm water

1 ½ cups sugar, plus 2 teaspoons sugar for proofing yeast

1 tablespoon honey

1/2 cup canola oil, plus 1-2 teaspoons for greasing the bowl

2 tablespoons fine salt

2 cups boiling water

1 cup cold water

6 large eggs plus 1 yolk

12-14 cups bread flour (about ¾ of a 5-pound bag)

Preparation Directions

  1. In a 2-cup measuring cup, dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup warm water and mix in 2 teaspoons sugar. Let sit until mixture becomes thick, for about 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, pour the oil, salt, remaining sugar and honey into a large mixing bowl. Mix with a whisk. Add the boiling water and mix well. Add the cold water and mix in.
  3. Beat the eggs in a medium bowl and add all but 2 tablespoons of the eggs to the oil mixture. Reserve the remaining egg in the fridge to glaze the loaves.
  4. When the yeast mixture is thick and bubbly, add to the bowl and whisk in. Add about 2 cups of the flour and whisk in well. Add another 2 cups flour and whisk in. Now you’ll need to switch to a wooden spoon. Add more flour, 2 cups at a time, until you have added a total of 10 cups of flour. Make sure you completely mix in each batch of flour before adding the next one. When the dough gets hard to mix, dump onto the counter and scrape out as much dough and flour as possible from the bowl.
  5. Add flour, starting with ¾ cup at a time, and then adding less, squeezing it in with your hands each time, turning the dough over and over and kneading until you have a smooth dough. Sometimes you will only add handfuls of flour to knead in. You will know the dough is done when you rub your hand across the dough, and it doesn’t stick and feels smooth. You will unlikely add all of the flour in the recipe.
  6. Place 2 teaspoons oil into the bowl and rub around. Return the dough to the bowl, turn to coat in the oil, and cover with a clean dishtowel. Let rise for 1 hour.
  7. Shape as desired and place on a parchment or Silpat-covered baking sheets.
  8. Let rise for 45 minutes.
  9. Preheat oven to 350°F. Brush the top and sides with the egg mixed with 1 teaspoon of water. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until golden.