September 26, 2011
Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is coming up this week and what better way for Jews and non-Jews alike to celebrate than by baking some challah?  I'm never one to miss out on a celebration.  How do ya' like that?  You can't leave me out!

Typically for this holiday, certain foods are eaten that hold special significance, the focus being on sweet foods.  Again, count. me. in.  And challah, dipped in honey (yum!) is one traditional food eaten.
Besides being a pretty bread, it's slightly sweet and very soft.  Challah makes the very best french toast!
So happy new year, my best Jewish love Alanna!  Wishing you all a sweet year!

Braided Challah
1/2 cup warm water (about 110 F)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs + 1 large egg yolk (reserve the white for the glaze)
3-3 1/2 cups (15-17 1/2 oz) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons salt

1 large egg white
2 tablespoons water
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, whisk together 3 cups of the flour, sugar, yeast and salt. 
  2. In a 2-cup measuring cup, whisk the warm water, melted butter, eggs and egg yolk. 
  3. With the mixer on low, slowly add the water mixture and mix until a rough dough forms. 
  4. Increase the speed to medium-low and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. The dough should clear the sides of the bowl, but stick to the bottom. If the dough is too sticky, add the remaining flour a little at a time until the proper consistency is achieved. 
  5. Remove the dough and shape into a ball.
  6. Coat a large bowl lightly with oil, and add the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 1 - 1 1/2 hours.
  7. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 2 pieces, one twice as big as the other. 
  8. Divide each of those 2 pieces into 3 equal sized pieces. Roll each piece into a rope that is 16 inches long. (You should have three thicker ropes from the large piece of dough and three thinner ropes from the smaller piece.)
  9. Grab the 3 thicker ropes, pinch the ends together and braid the strands by crossing the strand on the right side over the center one and then the one on the left side over the center. 
  10. Continue until the strands are braided to the bottom then pinch the ends together. Repeat with the 3 thinner strands to form a second, smaller braid.
  11. Beat the egg white and water together to prepare the egg wash. 
  12. Transfer the larger braid to a sheet of parchment paper set in a rimmed baking sheet. 
  13. Brush the top of the braid with the egg wash then place the smaller braid on top and press gently to secure it, then tuck the ends under on both sides of the loaf.
  14. Cover the loaf with greased plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise until just about doubled in size, about 45-75 minutes. 
  15. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. 
  16. Once the loaf has risen, brush with the remaining egg wash mixture then bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the loaf has browned.
  17. Place the baking sheet atop a wire rack and let the bread rest for 10 minutes, then transfer the loaf to the wire rack to cool for about 2 hours before serving.