The Famous Challah
2.5 cups warm water
1 T yeast
4 T vegetable oil
1/2 cup honey
1 T salt
2 eggs, beaten
7-8 cups of flour or more
1 egg for wash
seeds for topping- sesame, poppy etc.
Ok, this recipe is not for beginner bread makers. This makes a sticky dough and can be hard to manage. I HATE sticky dough, but the last time I made it I used more flour than recommended and it was much easier to work with.
Put the warm water in a bowl and sprinkle yeast on top. Allow to sit a few minutes. Next add oil, honey, salt and eggs and mix well. (I use a mixer or whisk) Do not forget the salt- the bread will taste very bland without it. Start adding flour one cup at a time and mix well. I use unbleached all purpose flour by the way. Soon you'll have to start mixing by hand. What I do, since the dough is very sticky still, is heavily sprinkle it with flour in the bowl, on top of the dough, then coat my hands in flour and pull the dough to the middle whiles scraping the flour down the sides of the bowl to sort of coat the whole thing in flour. That probably doesn't make sense. Work in enough flour till you get a smooth, elastic, slightly sticky dough.
Grease a bowl and the top of the dough and cover with damp cloth. Allow to rise till doubled in bulk. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Punch dough down and divide in two parts, shape dough as desired and allow to rise until doubled. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with desired topping. Bake 25-30 minutes, until top is a deep brown and the loaves sound hollow when the bottom is tapped.
A note on shaping. Some people will just make a three strand braid, some do four (don't know that one), some make a big three strand braid and smaller one and lay the small one on top of the big one. I've never done that. The six strand looks the neatest and is really fun. I've done it about 20 times now, so it's not a big deal to me, but it was a little tricky at first. However you must remember, it's only bread dough. So what if you mess up? Just keep trying :)