Although I was a bit afraid of making bread without the aid of my trusty bread machine, when I saw this recipe a while back on a blog I follow, think liz, I decided to go for it. It came out perfectly the first time, and every time since. It truly is an easy bread to make as long as you are sticking around the house for a few hours. It may be easy, but it isn't quick. Luckily it really is worth the time.
Challah Bread, adapted from Joan Nathan via think liz
3/4 tablespoon of active dry yeast
1 1/2 tsp plus 1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup olive or vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
4 cups all-purpose flour
In the bowl of your mixer, stir your yeast and sugar into 3/4 cup of lukewarm water. Using the whisk attachment whisk in the oil, 2 eggs (one at a time), and the rest of the sugar and salt. Switch the whisk attachment out for the dough hook and gradually add the flour mixing at a medium-low speed until the dough comes together. Turn the speed up to medium to "knead" the dough until it is smooth.
Put the dough into a large glass bowl that has been lightly rubbed with oil and cover it with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm area for about an hour or until it has doubled in size. Once doubled, punch the dough down, recover it, and then allow it to rise once again for about 30 minutes.
After the time is up turn the dough out of the bowl and divide it into 3 equal balls. Roll each ball out to about 12 inches long. Pinch the tops of the strands together and then braid them. When you get to the ends, tuck them under the loaf.
Put the braided dough onto an oiled baking sheet and brush the top with the remaining beaten egg. Let the dough rise on the sheet for one more hour. After the rise, brush the dough with the egg once more before putting it into an oven preheated to 375 F.
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until the top is nice and golden brown. Cool on a wire rack before slicing.
Enjoy your french toast! :)