Making these challas brings me lots of joy. The dough is so smooth and easy to work with and the smell of challas baking in the oven is just divine. They come out of the oven looking so beautiful that I immediately think to myself what a wonderful gift they would make to someone who is special to me. As soon as they cool I wrap and freeze them so that they stay nice and fresh. I always re-warm them in the oven for few minutes before serving and really, all the salads on the table become redundant when the challah is served. Make these challas and see for yourself how special they are.
1). Place the flour in a mixer bowl and add the dry yeast and sugar. Mix for a few seconds.
2). In a separate bowl mix the eggs and oil.
3). Prepare a jar of warm water. The water should not be boiling but rather to the point that your hand can touch it.
4). Place the salt in a small separate bowl.
Now that everything is ready let’s start making the dough:
5). Start the mixer on a low mixing speed and add half the amount of water plus the 2 Tbsp honey. Let it work for few seconds and then add the oil and eggs to the mixture. Mix for about 2 minutes. Add more water but not all of it. Now add the salt. The dough should start to separate from the bowl. It should be smooth and very comfortable to the touch. If you think that it is too dry, add the rest of the water and mix for a few more minutes.
6) Take a large bowl and grease with a very thin layer of oil. Transfer the dough, flip once, cover loosely with a plastic bag and a kitchen towel and let it rise in a warm place for one hour. Punch once or twice during the hour.
7). After one hour dust your counter with flour, transfer the dough onto it and cut the dough into about 8-10 portions. Shape the challas. Place on a sheet lined with parchment paper and cover with a big, clean, unopened garbage bag. Let rise for at least 45 minutes.
8). Preheat your oven to 350F for 15 minutes prior to inserting the first tray. Brush the challas with egg wash and sprinkle some of your favorite toppings such as sesame or poppy seeds (optional).
9). Bake for 30 minutes.
Tip: For very soft and airy challas place a small tray with hot water on the bottom shelf of your oven. The steam helps the rising and the results are amazing.
Note: If you do not have a mixer you can do all the steps by hand. Just be careful to knead very well.