Best Ever Challah Bread

Makes 4 loaves

1 ½ tablespoons active dry-yeast
2 ½ cups warm water (110-120°F)
1 cup good honey
12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, melted (divided)
1 large egg
4 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon kosher salt
8-9 cups all-purpose flour
2 eggs +2 tablespoons water (egg wash)
(optional) sesame seeds

In the bowl of a stand mixer* add water and honey.  Sprinkle yeast over top and swirl with spoon or fingers to combine.  Allow to sit for about 5-10 minutes while the yeast bloom and become aromatic.

Add 8 tablespoons melted butter, eggs, salt and 6 cups flour.  Mix on low, using dough hook, until smooth.  Add remaining flour 1 cup at a time until soft dough ball forms (I use the entire 9 cups).  Turn to medium and knead for 5 minutes.  Your ball of dough should be tacky (not sticky).  If it is sticky, add a little more flour 1 tablespoon at a time until it becomes tacky (does not leave dough on your fingers when you touch it).

Turn onto a floured counter top; knead about 10 turns. Wash out bowl and place 1 tablespoon melted butter inside. Place dough into bowl, turning once to grease top. Loosely cover with plastic wrap (that has been sprayed with non-stick spray) and a cloth over top and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Prepare egg wash.  Set aside.  Grease 2 cookie sheets with ½ tablespoon butter each.

Punch dough down and divide in four. Form into a ball and set aside.  Working with one dough ball at a time; roll dough ball into a log and cut into thirds. *Then, cut each third in half if doing a 6 braid. 

Braid into 4 loaves and place on greased cookie sheets.  See this fabulous video tutorial for an easy 6 braid

Brush with egg wash.  Sprinkle with seeds if desired.

Cover and let rise until doubled, about 60 minutes.  Preheat oven to 350° and place baking racks in the top and bottom 1/3 of oven center of the oven.  Bake for 40 minutes or until golden brown.

If bread starts to brown too quickly, cover with aluminum foil.  When bread is removed from the oven, brush with remaining butter.  Serve and enjoy!

COOK’S NOTES:  If you do not have a stand mixer you can:  Add honey and water to a large bowl.  Sprinkle yeast over top and swirl with spoon or fingers to combine.  Allow to sit for about 5-10 minutes while the yeast bloom and become aromatic.  Add melted butter, eggs and salt. Mix with a wooden spoon.  Add flour 1 cup at a time until you are no longer able to mix with a spoon.

Place bread on a clean floured counter top and begin kneading, adding 1 cup of flour at a time until the bread becomes a ball.  Then continue to knead by hand 5-8 minutes until dough is tacky (not sticky).  Continue with recipe.

To evenly distribute poppy or sesame seeds: dip a clean finger in egg wash and then into a cup of seeds.  Gently press the seeds onto each section of the bread.  Repeat until finished.

Recipe developed by Donna Elick - The Slow Roasted Italian
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