Although the braiding of dough may seem intimidating, challah dough is not difficult to work with so so don't worry about messing up. This is my mother-in-law's time-tested recipe that has been passed down to me and works without fail. It makes two loaves; you can freeze one for later or do as my kids prefer and reserve one specifically for challah French toast. Alternately, you can use the challah dough to make excellent rolls or burger buns.
You may substitute poppy seeds for the sesame seeds if you prefer, or can omit seeds altogether.
- 1/2 Cup warm water
- 1 Teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 Ounce (about 2 1/2 tablespoons) instant yeast
- 2 Pounds (about 7 1/4 cups or 1000 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
- 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/2 Cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 Cup boiling water
- 2 Teaspoons salt
- 1 egg yolk, beaten
- Sesame seeds
Step 1: In a large mixing bowl, dissolve 1 teaspoon sugar in 1/2 cup warm water. Sprinkle 1/4 ounce yeast on top and let stand for 10 minutes. Stir to dissolve.
Step 2: Add half of the flour (about 3 1/2 cups), 3 eggs, 1/2 cup oil, 1/2 cup boiling water, 1/4 cup sugar and 2 teaspoons salt. Mix well. Stir in remaining flour. Dough should be sticky. Cover dough and let rest for 10 minutes. Turn out onto a floured board and knead for 10 minutes, adding more flour as needed.
Step 3: Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm place until dough doubles in size, approximately 30 minutes.
Step 4: Punch dough down, then divide it into 2 equal parts. Take one of the halves and divide that into 3 equal parts. Shape each part into a strand and press the strands together at one end. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet.
Step 5: Braid the strands together: Grasp the rightmost strand and pass it over the center strand so that it falls to the left of that strand. Then take the far left strand and pass it over the center strand so that it falls to the right. Repeat these 2 steps until you come to the ends of the strands. Press the ends together. Repeat with the other half of the dough.
Step 6: Set braided dough aside in a warm place until it doubles in size, approximately 30 minutes.
Step 7: Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°F.
Step 8: Brush dough with beaten egg yolk and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for 45 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving.