a round challah
A round challah, although we usually make the traditional long shaped ones.

I know that homemade Challah may seem like a luxury. But believe it or not, the reason I make Challah is really and truly to simplify my life! Five pounds of flour yields six or seven loaves, and saves me a Friday bakery run for three weeks. It's simply easier to bake my own Challah than it is to fit in yet another Friday errand. (Especially because I have a terrific electric mixer which does the kneading, and my wonderful daughters do all the braiding for me!)

If you've never made Challah before, you should really try it. Homemade challah just doesn't compare to the store bought stuff, and it's nowhere near as daunting as you might think. If you are mixing by hand and want to make things easier, make just a half recipe with a yield of three loaves. Adjust the flour to 6 1/2 cups, and use half of all the other ingredients.

4.5 tablespoons dry yeast (5 small packets)
3 1/4 cups water
6 eggs
5 pounds flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup honey
3/4 cup oil
3 tablespoons Kosher salt

Mix the yeast and water together in a large mixing bowl. Add a drop of honey. Let sit for about 5 minutes till it starts bubbling.

Add the remaining ingredients. Mix well. If you're using a mixer (I use a Bosch mixer which handles five pounds easily), mix for about five minutes until smooth. If you're kneading by hand, it'll take more like ten minutes (sorry!) but you'll get such satisfaction it'll all be worth it.

Find a warm toasty spot (I use my bedroom!) and let the dough rise for 1-2 hours, till doubled. Take challah, with a blessing. Braid into six or seven loaves (I make mine with four strands of dough), lay the loaves on baking sheets, and then let rise for another hour.

Prepare an egg wash using 2 eggs and about 1 tablespoon of water. Brush the loaves with egg. Preheat the oven to 350* and once it's hot, bake the challah for about 45 minutes until golden. Let the Challah cool completely on cooling racks before wrapping in bags and using or freezing.

See my post on Yeast Spotting.
I shared this post on Countdown to 2011!

Sweet Egg Challah on Foodista