Challah is traditionally served at the beginning of Shabbat dinner. A prayer is said over the freshly baked bread before dinner begins. Here's a recipe for your very own special Shabbat challah. This recipe makes two loaves.
- Pour water into bottom of large mixing bowl. Add yeast, and allow to sit for 1 minute.
- Add honey, oil, eggs, sugar, and salt to yeast mixture. Stir to combine.
- Scoop spoonfuls of flour into the wet mixture, combining well each time. As you continue adding flour, the mixture will thicken. You can use your hands to mix in the flour.
- After all of the flour is mixed in, knead the dough in the bowl until it is smooth. Add up to 1/2 cup of additional flour if your dough is sticky. Allow dough to rise for 1 hour in a warm place. The dough should double in size.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured surface like a cutting board. Deflate risen dough by punching it. Divide dough into 2 equal pieces and knead each piece for 3 minutes. If dough is sticky, add a little bit of flour as you knead.
- Grease 2 large baking sheets with margarine, and set them aside. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
- Divide each loaf into 3 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a long rope about 11/2 inches (4 cm) in diameter. These will be the 3 strands of your braid. Bring the ends of the strands together and begin braiding. After it is fully braided, tuck the beginning and end of your braid under the loaf. Repeat for the other loaf, and place each on a prepared baking sheet. Cover each loaf with a slightly damp towel and allow the loaves to rise once more, for 45 minutes.
- After the loaves have risen, use a pastry brush to spread beaten egg over each one. Sprinkle the tops of the loaves with sesame seeds.
- Bake on a low rack for about 35 to 45 minutes. The fully baked bread should be a deep golden color and should sound hollow when tapped.