Many families in the East Valley look forward to eating Chef Melinda’s delicious challah each Shabbat. Below she shares her recipe in this two-part video so you can try it at home. The first video shows how she made the dough and the second video shows different ways to shape the challah.
Yield: 2 one-pound loaves
1 c water, warmed
1/3 c oil
¼ c honey
4 c bread flour
2 T sugar
1 tsp salt
¾ tsp instant yeast (*If using active dry, use 1 tsp. See note below.)
In mixing bowl, combine wet ingredients.
Add dry ingredients. (*If using active dry yeast, activate by warming 2 T of the water and allow to bloom. Add with other wet ingredients.)
Mix with dough hook on low speed for 3 minutes until all dry is combined, then on medium/high speed for another 7 minutes. Dough should be shiny and smooth. If using the next day, place in an oiled bowl, cover and chill. Otherwise, place in an oiled bowl, cover and ferment at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Fold the dough: wet hands, scoop, lift and stretch one side of the dough toward the center, then the other on top of that. Do the same for the other two sides, then flip the dough in the bowl. Alternatively, wet hands, scoop from the center and lift, allowing the dough to stretch and come together in the air. Then flop the dough over into a loose ball. The idea is to stretch the gluten strands, creating strength and a tighter dough. Ferment another 30 minutes.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and pat lightly into a rectangular shape. Cut into 4 portions and pre-shape the strands for the braids: place rectangle lengthwise in front of you and de-gas by gently patting.
Using pinky edges of hands, gather the top of the rectangle toward you, press into the dough and gently away, to tighten. Repeat, which closes the piece of dough into a tube.
Press seam closed with the heel of your hand and repeat with remaining dough portions. Allow these to rest for 20 minutes, then roll out to length needed for braiding.
Braid and place loaves on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Proof in a warm, moist environment. When loaves are jiggly and airy, bake at 350 for about 25 minutes.