CHALLAH - Traditional Easter Bread
Challah is traditionally served at Easter time or for the Sabbath meal anytime, according to author Martha Zimmerman in her book Celebrate the Feasts.
2 TB Saf yeast
Mix 3/4 cup warm water, 2 eggs and yeast in mixer bowl. Stir in 2 cups flour, beat well, and allow the mixture to sponge (bubble up) for about 15 minutes or more. Meanwhile, heat milk, butter, honey, until the butter melts. Cool to lukewarm. Add these ingredients to the "sponge", add the salt, and stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough. Knead until the dough is smooth, and elastic but not dry; about 7 -10 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball.
Place the dough ball into a greased bowl. Turn once to grease the top. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in warm place until doubled in bulk, about one hour. A finger pressed into the dough will leave an imprint when the dough has risen enough. Punch the dough down, divide into thirds. Roll each third into an 18-inch strand. Line up the three stands one inch apart on a large, greased baking sheet. Braid loosely, beginning in center and working toward ends. Pinch ends together and tuck under.
Cover and let rise until double, about 30 minutes. Brush with egg yolk that has been beaten with one TB of water and sprinkle poppy seeds over the egg wash. Bake in a pre-heated 375 degree oven 35-45 minutes.This recipe makes one large braid or two small braids. Recipe can be doubled of tripled if you have a heavy duty mixer. This recipe can also be preapred as is, in a bread machine on the dough cycle and then shaped by hand.
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