Challah is a special braided bread traditionally eaten on Jewish holidays. The braided strands look like arms embracing and symbolize love – the perfect dish to share during the holidays!. Recipe makes 1 loaf.
1 egg white and 1 tablespoon water, mixed together
1 cup raisins (optional)
2 tablespoons cinnamon (optional)
6 tablespoons brown sugar (optional)
Mix water and a pinch of sugar with yeast in a small bowl, then leave for 5-10 minutes to make sure it foams.
Add 4 cups of flour, rest of sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl (use a stand mixer if you have one), and whisk to combine.
Make a well in the flour mixture, then add and whisk eggs, egg yolk, and oil in the well. Using a spatula, slowly mix in flour around the well to form a shaggy dough.
If using a stand mixer, fit it with a dough hook, and knead the dough on low speed for 6-8 minutes. If you don't have the stand mixer, you can knead the dough on the countertop for 15 minutes or so. Add raisin and/or dates to the dough (if desired) a couple minutes before it is done kneading. If dough looks too sticky, add flour, a little at a time, until dough is soft and smooth.Form it into a ball shape.
Place the dough in an oiled bowl, and cover with plastic. Let the dough rise in a warm place for 1.5 to 2 hours, until it doubles in size.
Divide dough into 3 or 6 equal pieces, rest for 5 minutes, then roll each piece to be a 16" long rope. 3 ropes of dough will make a simpler braid that is easier to make, but upping the challenge to 6 ropes will make a more impressive bread!
If you are making the cinnamon sugar version, after dividing the pieces, roll out each dough long and flat about 4”x12”, and spread the cinnamon and sugar mixture leaving the edge of the dough uncovered half inch around. Roll up the dough lengthwise to create the long rope.
Squeeze together one end of the ropes, then braid the ropes together as you would hair.
Place the braided dough on a parchment paper–lined baking sheet. Sprinkle flour on top, and cover with a kitchen towel. Let it rise in a warm place for about an hour. Ask a grown-up: preheat your oven to 350 degrees before that hour is over.
Brush top and sides of challah with egg white and water mix. This makes the outside nice and browned when baking.