1 c. warm water (105-115 degrees F)
1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp.)
2 tsp. plus 1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. vegetable oil, plus more for greasing the bowl
2 tsp. Kosher salt
4 to 4 1/4 c. all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 c. raisins (optional)
1. Pour water into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Sprinkle yeast and two tsp. sugar over the water. Wait one minute for it to begin dissolving.
2. Add oil into yeast and quickly mix to combine. Beat in two eggs, one at a time, with remaining sugar and salt.
3. Add in four cups of flour, one cup at a time. If dough looks too sticky, add up to 1/4 c. more. When dough holds together, it is ready for kneading.
4. If using a stand mixer, change to the dough hook and knead on low until dough is smooth, about seven minutes. If working by hand, turn dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth.
5. Clean out bowl and grease it, then return dough to bowl. Alternately, have a separate bowl oiled and ready to go before beginning. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place for one hour, until almost doubled in size. You may also let dough rise in an oven that has been warmed to 150 degrees then turned off. Punch down dough, cover and let rise again in a warm place for another half hour.
6. Turn dough out on to a floured work surface. Knead in raisins, if using. Divide dough into three equal pieces. Join the three pieces at one end and tuck under. Braid the dough and tuck the other end under.
7. Beat remaining egg and brush it on loaf. At this point, either freeze bread or let rise another hour.
8. If baking immediately, preheat oven to 375 degrees and brush egg wash over loaf again. If freezing, remove from freezer five hours before baking.
9. Bake in middle of oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden. If using an instant read thermometer, take the bread out when it hits an internal temperature of 190 degrees. Cool bread on a rack, if you can wait that long!
Pairs Well With
I've got a list going of 31 things I want to make while I'm 31 and this challah is on the list. I was so happy to find out it's easier than 123 and so proud when it came out looking just like the challah from the local bakery. Plus, you can have challah French toast the next morning. YUM!