(It takes about 4 hours to make Challah. Plan ahead.)
Dissolve 1/4 cup dry yeast (or 6 to 7 envelopes) into 1 cup of warm water to which 2 t. of sugar has been added. (Note:If you bake every week, it is a very good idea to buy yeast in 1-2 lb. bulk packages --it's much more economical).
Use a two cup container for this. The water should be as warm as a warm bath. Set this aside for now.
Measure the following into a large
bowl. 5 lbs bread flour
1+ 1/2 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons salt
1/2 cup corn oil
3 to 4 cups very warm water. (start with 3 and add more if needed)
The yeast mixture should be bubbly by now. That's how you know the yeast was good and the water was the right temperature. If it's not getting bubbly, you should probably try making the yeast mixture again.
Put the rest of the ingredients into a very large bowl, and add the yeast mixture to it. Stir everything together into a ball of dough. Add more warm water (or flour) as necessary. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it for about 15 minutes. The dough should be smooth and soft like a baby's skin. If it is too sticky, add a little more flour. If it is too dry add a little warm water, then knead it some more.
After kneading, remember to separate the challah.** Then put the dough in a large oiled bowl. Rotate the dough so it is coated with the oil. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and set it in a warm place to rise. Let it rise about 1 hour, then punch it down and knead it a couple of times. Let it rise a second time. Keep the dough away from drafts while it is rising.
After the second rising, punch the dough down and dump it onto a lightly floured surface.
If you know how to do a six braid challah, divide the dough and form 12 equal strands. ( Hint: For a smooth texture, flatten each piece into a long rectangle with a rolling pin, then flip it over and roll it up,jelly-roll style, into a long strand, smooth side out. ) You can find a helpful video on how to do a six braid challah on YouTube.
(An alternative method is to create tiered 3-braid loaves. To do this: Divide it into 6 equal parts. Cut 4 of these parts into 3 pieces each and the other 2 parts into six pieces. Form a rope out of each. Pinch the seam shut.) You should have 12 large strands, at least 12 inches long, and 12 smaller strands of about the same length. Using three large strands for each loaf, pinch the tops together, braid them, then pinch the bottom of the strands together and tuck under the loaf. Use the six smaller strands to make to thinner braids. Place one thin braid on top of each large braid to form a "crown." )
Place the completed loaves on a large greased cookie sheets (2 per sheet). Let the loaves rise for about 45 minutes. The loaves will at least double in size. Then brush them with a beaten egg. This gives them the characteristic shine. Bake the loaves at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes. Remove them to a cooling rack.
Challah tastes best fresh, but it can also be wrapped tightly in foil after it has cooled and frozen for up to two weeks. Of course you can always give a couple of loaves to a friend!
7 cups bread flour
2 Cups very warm water (divided use)
1/2 cup egg substitute or 2 to 3 eggs
2/3 c. plus 1 Tbs. Sugar
1 Tbs Salt
3 Tbs. Canola Oil
2 Tbs. Yeast (or 4-5 packets)
Stir yeast into 1 cup warm water + 1 Tbs. Sugar
In large mixing bowl, put flour, sugar, salt, oil ,eggs and water.
Mix briefly, then add yeast mixture after it starts to bubble.
Knead by hand or in mixer until elastic.
Let rise about 45 minutes. Punch down. Let rise again.
Braid and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.