Step 1: Gather All Your Ingredients for the Challah Bread
4 1/4 to 5 cups all purpose flour
1 package active dry yeast
1 1/3 cups milk
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter or margarine(omit salt in this case)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg yolk (for brushing)
oil, butter, or spray oil for lining bowl
A hand or stand mixer (a good old fashioned wooden spoon works as well but will take much longer to mix)
A butter knife for leveling off flour
A large bowl
A small sauce pan
A towel (to cover bread while rising)
A basting brush
A liquid measuring cup
Step 2: Flour and Yeast: the Kings of Baking
Step 3: The Activator: Butter, Milk, Sugar, and Salt
Step 4: Beating It Together
Beat on medium for 30 seconds, scraping down sides as you go.
Turn the beater on to high and continue to mix for 3 minutes. Scrap down sides as needed.
Step 5: More Flour!
When you have done this, turn dough out on to a floured surface.
Step 6: Knead, Knead, and Knead
The best way to knead the dough is:
1. Grab the end of the dough farthest from you and pull it toward you, folding it over on itself.
2. Push ends of dough into eachother with fingers.
3. Turn dough 90° and repeat step one.
4. Repeat this process until finished.
Step 7: Rise
Turn the ball around once to coat it with the oil.
Put a dry kitchen towel over bowl and place in a warm place to rise at least one hour, or until dough has doubled in size.
Punch in the dough(this is the fun part) and put on a floured surface.
Cut the dough into three equal parts and shape into balls.
Place a towel over the dough and let rest for 10 minutes.
Step 9: Roll Out
Step 10: Braiding
Braid the ropes until you reach the other end.
Pinch the remaining bits of rope together and tuck the pinched ends under on each side.
Cover the braid with a towel and let rest 30 minutes.
Step 11: Egg Wash and Bake
Beat one egg yolk.
Uncover dough and place on baking sheet.
Using the basting brush wash yolk over the entire loaf of bread.
Do not allow egg to pool in the creases of the braid or it will cook when in the oven.
Put bread in the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes depending on hiw hot your oven runs.
When the bread is a dark golden and sounds hollow when tapped, it is done.
Take bread out and allow it to cool completely.
Step 12: French Toast Time!
Step 13: Gather Ingredients for the Egg Mixture.
2/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 pods anise
1 teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg (scant 1/4 tsp if using pre-ground nutmeg)
1 pinch of salt
Step 14: Beat It!
measure out ingredients
Get out a spice grinder or coffee grinder out and pluck two pods from a star anise. Grind it as fine as possible and add to bowl.
Beat the ingredients together.
Step 15: Soak It
Place a slice of the bread and put in the mixture and let soak about 30 seconds to a minute on each side.
Step 16: Fry It Up
Once heated, put French toast into the pan.
Cook the French toast about 1 1/2 minutes on each side (more or less time depending on how your stove functions.