Challah is a special Jewish bread eaten on Sabbath and holidays. Unlike brioche, Challah bread should not contain butter fat but rather oil, eggs, and honey. Challah is made in various sizes and shapes, all of which have a meaning. Braided ones, which may have three, four, or six strands, are the most common, and because they look like arms intertwined, symbolize love. Three-strand braided symbolize truth, peace and justice. The twelve-strand ones recall the miracle of the 12 loaves for the 12 tribes of Israel. Sweet challah with honey or raisins is usually baked during Rosh Hashanah (The Jewish New Year) to bring joy and happiness. Challah bread makes excellent burger buns and French toast!
Makes 2 loaves. First, mix fresh yeast* and warm water, then add a couple of tablespoons/40g flour (Take flour out from the recipe). Let yeasty mixture to rest for 20 min. *If using instant yeast, skip this step and combine instant yeast with flour.
In a large bowl, whisk eggs along with salt, oil, honey, and then add the starter. Mix in one-third of the flour. Swap the whisk with a spatula, add remaining flour and mix to combine. Transfer dough onto work surface and knead until dough becomes smooth and elastic; it should take 10 minutes. The internal temperature should reach 77ºF/81ºF (26/28ºC). Shape dough into a tight round and place in an oiled bowl, cover and let ferment for 2 hours, or until it has doubled in size.
Transfer dough onto work surface (No extra flour). Divide dough into 8 x 3.3oz/105g portions. Shape into tight balls; cover and let rest for 10 min. Flour work surface lightly. Flatten each round into 6x3''/15x7.5cm shapes; cover and let rest for 5 min. Take the first flatten bread back, and roll out into a thin and large rectangle dusting some flour as you go. Brush out any any excess flour and roll out dough into a very tight rope that should measure 16''/41cm. Repeat until done.
Pinch the strands together at one end. Lay strand 3 to the far right and strand 1 over strand 4. Lay strand 3 over strand 1. Lay strand 3 over strand 1. Lay strand 4 to the far left over all the strands. Lay strand one between strand 2 and 3. Repeat until the loaf is complete. Cover and let proof bread on baking tray lined with baking mat, or parchment paper for about 2 hours.
Note that in bread making, the proofing time may vary according to the season.
Set oven temperature to 400ºF/205ºC. Egg wash proofed bread and sprinkle some sesame seeds if desired. Lower temperature to 350ºF/180ºC and bake Challah for about 25 min. Let cool to room temperature before sharing. Shabbat shalom!
Divide dough into 2.3/2.6oz (70/80g) portions. Shape into tight rounds, and let rest for 15 min; covered. Lightly flour work surface, and flatten rounds into 8cm/3'' diameter disks. Cover and let proof for about an hour. Moisturize buns with a water spray bottle. Sprinkle some sesame seeds if desired and bake for 15 min.