In Hebrew, challah is a term given to bread, but it is also a command: hafrashat challah. Bakers would throw away a piece of dough as an offering, baking the rest.
Challah bread is now eaten by many people, but it is a traditional Jewish bread eaten on Sabbath days and holidays.
A reliable challah bread recipe is that of Joan Nathan, a Jewish-American woman famous for her many cookbooks of Jewish food. What follows is a step-by-step guide for how to make challah bread.
First, activate yeast in warm water with sugar and let sit for five to ten minutes. Then, whisk in vegetable oil and eggs, adding the eggs one at a time to better incorporate them. Add flour in bit by bit. Once mixed, you can use a stand mixer with a dough hook, or you can knead by hand until smooth. The dough should not be sticky at this point. If it is, knead in small amounts of flour until no longer sticky.
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Remove the dough from the bowl and grease the bowl. Place the dough back into the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit for an hour or so. After an hour, the dough should be doubled in size. Bread is temperamental, so this might take longer. An easy way to ensure rising is to turn the oven on to 100 degrees, then turn it off once it reaches temperature. Place the dough in the warm oven and let sit for an hour. After doubled in size, punch down the dough and let rise for another half-hour.
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Challah bread is traditionally baked as braids. To do so, first divide the dough into three even portions. Roll each portion into a strand. Pinch together the strands at one end and braid them together. If you want, you can braid using six strands.
Beat an egg and brush over the outside of the bread before baking at 375 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes. Let the loaves rest for a few minutes before eating.
If you happen to have leftover challah, consider making French Toast with it!