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Holiday Challah

Kitchen Crowd’s Challah

adapted from Poppy Seeds Too: A Twisted Tale for Shabbat
Makes 2 large and 2 small challot

2 cups warm water
3 packages yeast
8-10 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon salt
2 sticks (1/2 lb) margarine
4 eggs
1/3 cup honey
mixed dried or candied fruit(optional)
1 egg beaten with tablespoon of water for glaze
sprinkles (optional, poppy seeds or sesame seeds can be used instead)

Mix the water and yeast in a very large bowl. Add sugar and 3 cups of the flour. Stir well with a fork. Cover and let rise in a warm place for one hour.

Put 5 cups of flour and the salt in another bowl. Cut in the margarine as you would for pie crust, until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. (Or melt the margarine, let cool and combine with flour)

Add the honey and eggs to the yeast mixture, stir well. Then add the flour mixture. Work into a ball, adding more flour as needed.

Turn out onto floured board and knead well. Put the dough in an oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for 2 hours. Divide the dough into four parts, one for each challah. Working with one piece at a time flatten the dough and add the fruit if desired. Fold the dough over the fruit and work the dough into a long rope. Divide the rope into the number pieces needed for the style of braid (3 for a traditional braid, 4 for the woven kind, only 1 if making a spiral) Braid the dough. Place the finished braid on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Cover and let rise for one hour.

Brush tops with beaten egg. Sprinkle with colored sprinkles (or poppy or sesame seeds). Bake in 325 oven for 20-40 minutes.

Note: If making the challah ahead and freezing it the sprinkles will melt in the freezer and make a colored glaze-like coating on the challah. To avoid this do not add sprinkles when baking the challah. After the challah is defrosted from the freezer brush it with egg wash again, add the sprinkles and bake at 350 until the egg wash is set and the challah is warm (approximately 5 minutes).