Challah bread can be intimidating, but it's actually easier than it looks! If you've made bread before, it will be even easier. This is a sweet version of challah, with brown sugar both in the dough and added before braiding.
Step 1: Ingredients
ingredients: (makes 2 loaves)
4 tsp. instant dry yeast
2 tsp. white sugar
1 1/3 cup warm(110*f) water
1/2 cup oil (it is important to use flavorless oil here, as opposed to stronger flavored oil such as olive oil. Avocado oil works great for challah)
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
1 cup brown sugar
for egg wash:
2 tsp. water
Step 2: Proof the Yeast
In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix together warm water, yeast, and white sugar. Let sit until yeast is foamy, about 10 minutes. If the yeast isn't foamy after 10 minutes, start over with new yeast (if the yeast didn't get foamy, it is most likely dead or expired and the dough will not rise)
**make sure the water is not too warm, or it will kill the yeast (110*F is the average temperature when making bread)
Step 3: Make the Dough
In a large bowl, combine salt, 1/2 cup brown sugar, and 6 cups flour. in a separate bowl, whisk oil and 3 eggs.
When the yeast if foamy, add yeast mixture and oil mixture to the flour mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon until the dough holds together. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead 5-10 minutes, or until it forms a smooth ball. Lightly grease a clean, large bowl. Place the dough in the bowl, cover, and let rise for about 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
Step 4: Braiding the Dough
Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Divide into 2 equal pieces. Put one piece aside. This recipe will make 2 loaves, so both pieces can be braided differently, if you want.
For a classic 3-strand braid:
Divide one piece of dough into 3 equal pieces. Roll out each a piece of dough to a 12 in. x 4 in. rectangle. Evenly spread 2 tbs. of brown sugar onto it. Starting at the long side, tightly roll up the dough and pinch together at the seams. Make sure the seams are pinched together well, or the pieces will come undone while baking. Repeat with other 2 parts of dough, to make 3 ropes of dough total. Tightly pinch all 3 strands together at the top. Braid the 3 strands together and pinch the ends. Tuck the ends under the loaf slightly.(just so they don't come apart while in the oven) Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
For a 4-strand round braid:
Divide one piece of dough into 4 pieces. Roll one piece out into a 14 in. x 4 in. rectangle. Evenly spread 2 Tbs. of brown sugar onto the rectangle and, starting at the long side, tightly roll up into a log. Repeat with the other 3.
lay 2 dough ropes next to each other on your work surface. Lay the other two on top. In one picture i have labeled each end of the dough pieces with a number in order to make it easier to follow along.
Put end 5 under end 4, and end 8 over end 1. This will make a weave pattern in the middle.
Put end 1 over end 2, 3 over 4, 5 over 6, and 7 over 8. Use the photos as reference to be sure you are braiding it correctly.
Put end 6 over end 3, end 4 over end 1, end 2 over end 7, and end 8 over end 5.
Continue the braid for 1 or 2 more rounds, or until you come to the end of the strands and cannot braid them any more. When you have come to the end, twist each end together with the end next to it and put the twisted ends under the loaf to prevent them coming apart while baking.
Place loaf on a baking sheet lined with parchment.
Step 5: Bake the Loaves
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Let challah loaves rise while the oven is preheating.
Beat egg with water and brush it onto the loaves with a pastry brush. This is what makes the outside of challah loaves so glossy.
When the oven has reached 350 degrees F., bake loaves for 30-40 minutes, or until they are golden brown and sound hollow when you lightly tap them.
Let them cool on the tray for ten minutes, then move them to a wire rack to cool for at least 1 hour.
Sprinkle with some extra brown sugar, if desired.
These loaves can be stored for up to 1 week by wrapping tightly in plastic wrap or putting them in an airtight container. They also freeze well!
Step 6: Eat!
These can be enjoyed on their own, with butter or jam, and also would make really good french toast!
I hope this was a helpful tutorial. Please comment if you make these! I would love to hear if you made them!