This is a modernized version of my Grandmother’s Challah recipe. It makes several very moist and rich loaves that are best pulled apart and not sliced – in classic Jewish tradition. You can also use this recipe to make bubka, which is a sweet dessert/pastry dish
- 2 cups water
- Small pinch of saffron
- 3 packages yeast
- 1 ½ cups sugar (or more to taste)
- 8 cups bread flour
- 2 sticks butter (left at room temperature for 30 minutes)
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- 4 eggs beaten
- 1 egg, reserved for glaze
- Sesame or poppy seeds (optional)
- Add saffron to ¼ cup of hot water and let rest for 30 minutes.
- Combine saffron water, the rest of the water (lukewarm, about 100°F), and the yeast.
- Add 3 cups flour and 1 cup sugar to the yeast mixture. Stir to combine and let rise 30 minutes in a warm place (75-80°F), draft free location.
- In the meantime, using another bowl, combine the remaining flour, sugar and the salt. Cut butter into flour mixture. Cut down with fork until the mixture resembles course meal.
- After 30 minutes, stir in the 4 beaten eggs with the yeast mixture. Add the flour-butter mixture to the yeast mixture and work it in well. If the mixture is too sticky, you may add up to 2 more cups flours.
- Knead dough on a well-floured board until smooth and elastic – about 10-12 minutes.
- Put dough in an oiled bowl and cover with a slightly damp towel. Place in a warm, draft-free place to let rise. In about 2-3 hours. Punch dough down ever 30-60 minutes. When ready, knead for a couple of minutes.
- At this point, Jewish tradition is to pull off a small, egg-sized piece. This piece is discarded or baked (but not eaten).
- Divide dough into equal parts. It will make 1 very large loaf, 2 family-sized loaves, or 4 smallish loaves.
- Braid the loaves on parchment lined baking sheets.
- Let rise for 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- When done rising, brush with reserved beaten egg. If desired, sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds.
- If making one huge challah, bake 50 minutes. If making two loaves, bake 45 minutes. If making four loaves, bake about 30 minutes.