Challah is traditionally a Jewish braided bread that is eaten on the Sabbath and on holidays. I am not Jewish, but I am a huge fan of this loaf! While I can work on my 6-rope braiding technique, I can surely say that this less traditional version of egg bread recipe is pretty awesome.
My Olive Oil Challah
Inspired by this recipe and post on Smitten Kitchen
Makes One Large Braided Loaf
1 pkg dry active yeast
1 cup less 2 tbsp warm water
1/4 cup honey
2 large eggs
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tsp salt
4 cups all-purpose flour
Extra olive oil for bowls and finished loaf
1 egg for brushing on loaf prior to baking
1 tbsp poppyseed
In bowl of stand mixer fitted with dough hook (or large bowl if kneading my hand), combine yeast, water and honey. Allow to sit approximately 5 minutes, or until yeast begins to bubble up. With mixer running on low, add in eggs, olive oil and salt. Mix in flour, 1 cup at a time and then allow to knead for about 7 more minutes, until you have a very smooth, soft and elastic dough.
Form the dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl and let rise, covered for an hour to an hour and a half, or until the dough has almost doubled. Gently deflate the dough, cover and let rise again for half an hour. Deflate and then divide the dough into 6 equal portions (or 3 if you want to use a standard braid). Roll the dough out into 6 (or 3) ropes about a foot long. Lay the ropes on a parchment lined baking sheet. Squeeze the top end of the ropes together and braid, squeezing the end pieces together and tucking the ends under on both ends*. Brush with beaten egg. Cover with a very large bowl or with a tea towel and let rise for another hour. Brush again with beaten egg and sprinkle with poppyseed. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 40 minutes, if your loaf is shorter and wider like mine. If your loaf is longer and thinner, keep an eye on it starting at the 30 minute mark. When the Challah comes out of the oven, very lightly brush it with some additional olive oil to give it an even nicer shine.
Allow to cool completely before slicing and make sure to have enough left to get stale-ish for your French Toast... Enjoy!
*I am not even going to try to explain the braiding technique as I still didn't get it right after the first two steps after a number of attempts. There are a ton of instructional videos on YouTube and I recommend viewing them if you need some tips... that's what I'm sure going to do.