The Challah Recipe This traditional Jewish bread is baked for holidays and the Sabbath.
1 3⁄4 - 2 1⁄4 hrs
2 1⁄2 tsp dried yeast
4 tbsp vegetable oil, plus extra for greasing
4 tbsp sugar
2 eggs, plus 1 yolk, for glazing
2 tsp salt
2 1⁄4 cups bread flour,
plus extra for dusting
1 tsp poppy seeds, for sprinkling (optional)
1 Put 1 cup of water into a pan and bring just to a boil. Pour 4 tablespoons into a bowl and let cool to lukewarm. Sprinkle over the yeast and let stand, stirring once, for 5 minutes, until dissolved. Add the oil and sugar to the remaining water in the pan and heat until melted. Let cool to lukewarm.
2 In a large bowl, beat the eggs just until mixed. Add the cooled sweetened water, salt, and dissolved yeast. Stir in half the flour and mix well. Add the remaining flour gradually, until the dough forms a ball. It should be soft and slightly sticky.
3 Turn onto a floured work surface. Knead for 5–7 minutes, until very smooth and elastic. Oil a large bowl. Put the dough in the bowl, and flip it. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place for 1–1½ hours, until doubled in bulk.
4 Lightly brush a baking sheet with oil. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knock back. Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces. Flour the work surface. Roll each piece of dough with your hands to a 25in (63cm) strand.
5 Line the strands up next to each other. Starting from your left, lift the first strand to cross over the second. Lift the third strand to cross over the fourth. Now lift the fourth strand and lay it between the first and second strands. Finish braiding the strands, pinching the ends together and tucking them under the braided loaf.
6 Transfer the loaf to the prepared baking sheet. Cover with a dry kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place for about 45 minutes, until doubled in bulk. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Make the glaze by beating the egg yolk with 1 tablespoon water until it looks frothy. Brush the loaf with the glaze, and sprinkle with poppy seeds, if you like.
7 Bake in the oven for 35–40 minutes, until golden and the bread sounds hollow when the bottom is tapped.
Challah is best eaten the day it is made, but will store, wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 2 days.