Happy New Year! This year we had a little Rosh Hashanah feast with some close friends. Traditionally, the challah is baked in a round loaf. But the circular braiding was kind of flummoxing, so I went Shabbat style. I think it tasted just as good.
In a small bowl, mix together a tsp of sugar, a tbsp of four, and a package (1/4 ounce) yeast. Stir in 3/8 cups of warm water. Not too lukewarm, but not so hot it burns, or you’ll kill the yeast. Set aside until it doubles. NOTE: If it doesn’t turn cloudy and bubbly, the yeast is dead, so start over with fresh yeast!
Meanwhile, in an electric mixer (or a large bowl if you’re hearty). combine 2 cups of flour, 1/4 cup sugar, and a pinch or two of salt. Stir in 3/4 cup hot water, 1/4 cup vegetable oil, and then beat in 2 large eggs. Once the yeast mixtures doubles, stir that in too. Beat in the mixer or by hand until the mixture is smooth. About two minutes. Now, blend in flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough is no longer sticky. This is usually about another 2 1/2 or 3 cups of flour.
Then knead in the mixer on low speed for six minutes, or turn out the dough and hand knead on your countertop until the dough is smooth and springy – about 8 minutes. The dough should be silky and not sticky.
Put the dough in a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a towel, and place in a warm window or in front of a wood stove until it doubles in volume. This can take a few hours. Once it’s risen, punch it down and let it rise again. This is faster than the first time.
Then, punch down the second rising, and divide the loaf into 3 pieces. Roll out the three pieces into long ropes. Braid them, starting from the middle and working out to the ends. Put the braid on a greased baking sheet (or baking sheet with corn meal on it) and let it rise until double.
Preheat the oven to 350 while it’s rising, and also beat an egg in a bowl, maybe with a little sugar (for a darker glaze) or some water (for a thinner glaze). Paint the glaze on the fully risen challah and bake for 30-35 minutes.
Amazing. And delicious with the rest of your rosh hashanah (or shabbat) dinner.