After many years of trying to perfect this recipe, I found that weighing the ingredients and using a bread machine gave perfect, consistent results every time!
- 2 large eggs (2 oz each)
- 10 oz water
- 4 oz vegetable oil
- 4 oz sugar
- ¾ oz yeast
- 3/8 oz salt
- 26 oz. bread flour1 cup raisins (optional)
- For the glaze: 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
- sesame seeds or poppy seeds for garnish (optional)
If using a bread machine: Place ingredients in the pail of a bread machine in the order listed. Set machine for “dough.” After the cycle is finished (about 1 hour 30 minutes) the dough is ready to be formed. Add raisins when machine beeps halfway through. Remove dough from pail and place on a Silpat (silicone sheet) lined cookie sheet. (This will make the dough easy to form and no extra flour will be needed)
Divide the dough into 3 equal parts and roll each into a long strand. Braid the dough. Allow to rise on the silpat until doubled (poke a hole in the side of the dough- if it stays, the dough is doubled) about 1 hour or more. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees (325 for a convection oven).
Brush challah with glaze. Sprinkle seeds over glaze – if using. Place in the oven and bake until golden brown about 40 minutes (or using an instant read thermometer the internal temperature is 190 degrees).
If using a food processor: Add all the dry ingredients to the work bowl. Combine eggs, oil and water. With the machine running, add the liquids through the feed tube. Add raisins if using. After the dough has formed a ball that “cleans the bowl” process for 15 seconds. Allow to rise in the work bowl until doubled. (Make a mark on the side of the bowl and another mark about where the “double” should be).
Continue with the directions above.
In a stand mixer: Place flour, salt, yeast and sugar in the bowl and using the dough hook, mix well. Combine oil, water and eggs. Add slowly to the running mixer. Add raisins if using. Increase speed and knead the dough until it is very smooth and elastic. (To test if the dough has kneaded enough, take a small ball of dough in your hand and stretch it. If you can get the dough thin enough to see through without tearing, it has been kneaded enough).
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled. (Use your finger to see if is doubled). Punch the dough down or turn out on to a very lightly floured surface and knead a few times to remove all air bubbles. Form into a loaf or into rolls. Spray with cooking spray, cover and allow to rise again until doubled. Brush with egg glaze if you wish. Bake in a 350 degree oven until the dough reaches 190-200 degrees when tested with an instant read thermometer. Cool before slicing.
Adapted from Chef Ruth Ross
Yield 2 small loaves or 1 large