This challah recipe comes from Carol Becker at William Greenberg Desserts in New York City. Challah is an iconic Jewish bakery item, but is loved by everyone. Because it’s a little bit sweet, leftover challah makes delicious French toast, but works equally as well as a sandwich bread.
Combine half the warm water and 1 teaspoon sugar in a small bowl. Sprinkle the yeast into the water. Let stand until the mixture is foamy, about 10 minutes.
Sift 2¾ cups of flour into the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook. Make a deep well in the center of the flour. In the well, put yeast mixture, remaining ¼ cup of water, ½ teaspoon sugar, eggs, oil, honey, and salt. Mix on medium speed until a soft, sticky dough forms. Add extra flour as needed until dough is no longer sticky.
Grease a large bowl. Add dough and turn to coat. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Punch down. Cover and let rise again until doubled.
Punch down the dough again and turn out onto a floured surface. Form into a rectangle. Roll the dough jelly roll style. Cut into three equal pieces. Braid the three pieces together. Put on a greased baking sheet and cover with the damp towel. Let rise another hour.
Preheat oven to 375. Brush the challah with beaten egg and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 and bake about 25 minutes more, until golden.