2 cups warm water or milk
2 pkgs dry active yeast
6-7 cups bread flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 t. salt
1/4 cup oil
Directions for challah bread:
1. In large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water (careful of the temperature or it won't rise. You can use a thermometer to check the temperature. You want 75-120 degrees.) Stir in sugar and salt. Add 3 cups flour and mix well. Add oil and egg and mix well. Then add remaining flour. (The dough will be a little sticky but don't add more flour.)
2. Wet a clean dish towel and ring it out. Cover the bowl of dough with the towel. Put the bowl in the refrigerator and let stand overnight.
3. When dough is doubled in size braid as follows:
Divide the dough into 3 pieces. Cut 1 piece into thirds; with your hands roll each piece into a 16 inch-long rope or snake. Place ropes side by side and braid as you would hair.
Pinch ends of braid to seal. Place on cookie sheet the bottom loaf. Repeat with another piece for another loaf. Cut remaining dough into 6 pieces; roll each into 17 inch-long ropes. Braid each set of three ropes; pinch ends to seal.
Place each smaller braid on top of a large braid; tuck ends of top braid under bottom braid stretching top braid if necessary.
4. Arrange loaves (This recipe makes 2 loaves) at least 5 inches apart on oiled or greased cookie sheet; cover and let rise in warm place until doubles in size. (Depending on your house temperature—try to find a warm place.)
5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake bread for about 35 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and brush top and sides of loaves with butter. Let cool on wire rack.
Too busy for all that? Then read this “Super Jiffy” 2 hour method: *If you have are having a problem with finding a nice warm moist place to get the dough to rise, try your microwave! Here's what to do. Make half the recipe at a time; the trick is to really dissolve the yeast well - so use your mixer or food processor and beat it until it foams up tall. Then add the sugar and mix it well until it is dissolved well. The mixture is VERY foamy by this time. Then add the ingredients until you have a stiff dough (I have bread hooks on my mixer, and use the cutter down in the bottom of the food processor) When you are ready to let it rise, take a wet (not sopping wet, but wet) towel and put it in the microwave to heat for about two minutes. Careful! It is very hot when you take it out! Then put it across the top of the dough bowl and set the bowl in the microwave with the door shut for 30-60 minutes...just long enough to rise up to the top of the large bowl. Works great! Then as you begin to braid the bread, turn on your oven to 350 degrees to warm the top of my electric stove (those of you with gas stoves have a pilot light for this purpose). Then place your cookie sheets (Airbake cookie sheets work well for this project!) on the top of the electric burners (Make sure that they are not turned on!). Take braided bread and place them onto the heated cookie sheets. Then heat another damp towel in the microwave for a few seconds to go across them while they rise again. Just remember that the secret is having a nice warm and moist place to raise your bread dough to do the job quickly!