This challah is amazingly simple, has the benefit of being egg-free and has the beautiful look of a bakery challah.
- 5 1/2 cups of warm water -
- 1 1/3 cups sugar -
- 4 1/2 TBSP dry active yeast -
- 1 cup canola oil -
- 3 TBSP salt -
- 5 lbs High Gluten or 'Bread' Flour -
- drop of oil -
1. Grease pans. Mix together yeast, sugar and water. Let sit for 5-10 minutes until frothy. Add oil, flour (in increments) and salt to the yeast mixture. Mix for 12 minutes, or knead by hand.
2. Spray a large bowl with non-stick cooking spray and transfer dough. The bowl should be big enough to hold the dough until it is finished rising. Spray the top of the dough and cover with a towel. If possible, leave somewhere warm to rise. Allow to rise for 1 hour.
3. Divide dough to braid – don’t forget Hafrashas Challah – and leave to rise for an additional 30 minutes. My preferred method is to do a four-strand challah. Form the snakes, lay them side by side. Calling your snakes 1, 2, 3 and 4, you braid like this: 1 goes over 2, under 3 and over 4. Your 'new' 1 now goes over 2, under 3 and over 4. Continue until you get to the end of the snake and pinched closed. To braid off the top, reverse the method: 4 goes over 3, under 2 and over 1.
4. If using an egg-wash, apply it now. I like scrambling up an egg and mixing it with about 1 TBSP of water. Brush on the wash and, if using a topping (sesame seeds, poppy seeds, etc) sprinkle it on now. Cover and leave to rise another 30 minutes.
5. Pre-heat your oven to 350 while your challos are completing their second rise. Bake for about 45 minutes. Once done, remove from pans and cool on a wire rack so that they do not become soggy.
If the egg allergy is a minor one (or a minor amount of baked egg is tolerated), whisking one egg with water for an egg-wash creates a beautiful finish. If not, you can create a wash using plain water, soy milk, olive oil or melted margarine.
Despite popular theory, my challos always come out better when it's sticky enough that just a little bit of dough sticks to the bottom of the mixer. While it's obviously harder to work with a sticker dough, the difference of that extra water makes it totally worth it!