Isaac's Challah

from the Megler Kitchen, via their friend Isaac Oderberg

1/2 cup warm water (105 to 115℉) 
2 1/4 tsp yeast (1 package)
3 cups all-purpose flour, divided
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks (saving the whites) 
3 tbsp vegetable oil
3 tbsp sugar, divided
1 1/4 tsp salt for dough
kosher salt for outside

1. Combine water, yeast, and 1 tbsp sugar in a bowl and stir to dissolve. Let proof for 5 minutes. Mixture should become frothy. 

2. Pour Yeast mixture into bowl. Add 1/2 cup of flour, eggs, egg yolks, vegetable oil, salt, and remaining 2 tbsp sugar and whisk to combine. Pour into the bowl of the stand mixer (if not already using). 

3. Add remaining 2 1/2 cups flour in 1/3 at a time, stirring with the dough hook until combined. 

4. Kneed with the dough hook at medium-low speed for 8 minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic, and no longer sticks to your hands. If after 5 minutes of kneading, the dough still seems too sticky, add more flour, 1 tbsp at a time, until dough is a better texture. 

5. Transfer dough to an oiled container (or take the dough out and get someone to oil the existing bowl quickly) and cover container with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place (75-85F) for 1 to 1.5 hours, until doubled in size. 

6. Punch the dough down gently, folding it over a few times, and reshape into a ball. Place back in the same container and refrigerate for 2 to 12 hours (although I've done closer to 24 without issue), allowing at least a 3/4 size increase. Overnight yields better flavor, but a 2 hour rise is usually sufficient if you are impatient. 

7. On a silicone mat, divide dough, roll into balls, let site for 10 minutes, then shape into a braid. (I usually do a six-stranded braid following this youtube video, but you can do whatever shape you like).

8. Combine 2 tbsp of egg whites with 2 tbsp water and whisk to combine

9. Brush egg white wash over braided loaf, being careful not to get too much in the creases of the braid. Sprinkle with Kosher salt. Let rise in a warm place until not quite doubled, 30-45 minutes. 

10. Preheat oven to 375℉. Brush loaf with Egg white wash again. 

11. Bake until crust is golden brown and the when tapped on the bottom, the loaf sounds hollow (30-35 minutes). Internal temperature should be ~200℉. When in doubt, cook longer. Underdone bread is terrible. 


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