Even though I am gluten-intolerant and only allow myself a taste of this bread once a week at our Sabbath dinner, I love baking it! There is something so soul-satisfying about working with bread dough — the aroma, the textures, the rhythms of kneading, and the patience of waiting for the miracle of the rising. As the Sabbath prayer says, “Blessed are you, O God, sovereign of the universe, for you have given us this bread to sustain our lives.”
This started out as a recipe from Williams Sonoma. It was quite good, but was not quite so yeasty as I prefer, and it made two enormous loaves. So after a bit of tinkering, this is what I use for our weekly batch of Challah. Do not use rapid rise yeast as it tends to make the bread very spongy and flattens the shape of the braids. Dayenu ~ Glyn
1 tbsp dry active yeast (1 pkg)
1/2 cup water (warm but not hot)
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar or honey (organic) 3 eggs
4 tbsp butter
3 cups flour (organic, unbleached)
1 tsp sesame seeds
1 Sprinkle the yeast on the warm water and let sit while you
2 Beat the eggs, sugar, salt and softened butter together (in a large bowl with a fork, not a mixer)
3 Stir in the yeast.
4 Add 2 cups of the flour, mixing well with a fork or wooden spoon.
5 Add the remaining flour by quarter cupfuls to make a soft dough.
6 Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes, adding additional flour if needed.
7 When the dough is smooth, satiny and elastic, transfer to a lightly oiled bowl.
8 Turn once to get the oil on all sides of the dough.
9 Cover and let rise till doubled (about an hour) in a spot free from drafts. I use the oven.
10 Punch down, cover and let rise again (about half an hour).
11 Shape or braid into two loaves and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Wash with egg white and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
12 Let rise another 30 minutes.
13 Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes. Watch to keep from getting too brown.
14 Cool on racks.
Yield: 2 loaves
Degree of Difficulty: Moderately difficult
Oven Temperature: 375°F
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 minutes
Inactive Time: 2 hours and 15 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours and 10 minutes