A couple of the 1,400 finished products at New Jersey’s Great Big Challah Bake.
Makes 2 loaves
1 and 2/3 cup warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon dry yeast
4½ cups high-gluten flour
½ cup sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
2 teaspoon salt
1 egg and 1 tablespoon sugar for egg wash
1) Place yeast in a medium sized bowl with warm water and 1 tablespoon sugar. Let the yeast dissolve/bubble up for approximately 10 minutes.
2) Sift the flour directly into a large bowl (optional if flour is pre-sifted).
3) Add sugar and salt and mix.
4) Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and add the oil and proofed yeast. Knead the dough for about ten minutes until it feels smooth.
5) Pour 2 tablespoon of oil on the dough and cover with saran wrap and or damp dish towel. Allow dough to rise for 1½ to two hours in a warm place if possible or until it doubles in size.
6) Gently punch down the dough.
If you have used at least 5 pounds of flour then at this point you have an opportunity to do hafrashat challah — the ritual separation of the dough into two separate parts.
7) Knead the dough again and put on a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into even sections. Braid the dough and place on a pan or baking sheet lined with parchment paper. The loaves will rise and expand while baking so leave sufficient space between them.
8) Beat egg and 1 tsp sugar and brush over top of challahs. Add toppings (sesame seeds, poppy seeds etc.) and let challah rise again for up to an hour.
9) Preheat over to 350 degrees F and bake for around 30 minutes on center rack until the challah turns golden brown and feels hollow on the bottom remove from pan and let cool on a wire rack.