SWEET CHALLAH FOR ROSH HASHANA
1/2 cup plus 1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
2 1/4 cups lukewarm water
2 packages active dried yeast
10 cups unbleached white bread flour, plus 1 1/2 cups more as needed
1 tablespoon coarse or kosher salt
4 jumbo eggs at room temperature, beaten, plus 1 egg yolk
1/2 cup peanut oil, plus more oil to grease pans
1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon honey, divided
1/2 cup raisins
Dissolve 1/4 teaspoon sugar in the lukewarm water. Stir in yeast; set aside
in a draft-free place to proof (about 10 minutes).
Mix together 10 cups flour, salt and the remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a bowl by
hand or in a food processor equipped with a dough blade. If mixing by hand,
make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add 4 beaten eggs, 1/2 cup
oil, 1/2 cup honey and the proofed yeast mixture to bowl or to food processor
Mix and knead by hand or with dough blade in food processor, adding
additional flour until dough forms a sticky ball and pulls away from the
Place dough on a floured board; continue to knead by hand, adding flour as
you work if necessary. Dough should be blistered from kneading and feel moist
and slightly sticky, but it should not stick to the board or your fingers. Be
careful not to add too much flour (which many cooks have a tendency to do in
order to get rid of the ''sticky'' feeling), or you will end up with a bread
that is too heavy in texture.
When kneading is completed, place dough into an oiled bowl; cover with a damp
kitchen cloth. Set aside in a draft-free place to rise 2 1/2 to 3 hours,
until doubled in bulk.
To be certain that the first rising is finished, test dough by pushing it in
with your finger. If it does not spring back, it is ready for its second
kneading. Punch dough down; sprinkle with raisins. Knead in raisins. When
kneading is completed, dough should feel similar to the way it felt at the
end of the first kneading.
Place dough in an oiled pan and cover with damp cloth; set aside in a
draft-free spot to rise again for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until doubled in bulk.
Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Divide each of the 4 pieces into 3
pieces of equal size. Using the palms of your hands and a bread board, roll
each piece of dough into a rope at least 24 inches long. The ends of each
rope should be thinner than the center. To make each loaf, pinch three
strands together at one end, then braid the three strands together. Starting
at the top of the spiral, wind the loaf into a coil.
Place the loaves on the cookie sheets or in the shallow pans in which they
will be baked; cover with moist kitchen cloths. Allow loaves to rise about 35
to 45 minutes, until doubled in size.
Make an egg wash: Combine egg yolk, remaining 1 teaspoon honey and 1
tablespoon cold water. Using a pastry brush, brush egg wash over each loaf.
Sprinkle with poppy seeds.
Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven 35 to 45 minutes. Loaves are done when
they are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Cool on
wire racks before serving.
Yield: 4 loaves.