Makes 1 loaf

While the word challah has come to mean the whole glorious, braided loaf made for Shabbos, it actually refers to a small portion of the dough that is burned in the oven beyond use as a reminder that all sustenance actually comes as a gift from above.

  • 1 package yeast
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1¼ cups warm water
  • ¼ cup oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 5–5½ cups flour
  • 1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in water. Beat in oil, eggs, and salt, then gradually beat in 5 cups of flour. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead about 10 minutes, or until shiny and smooth, adding additional flour as needed. Place dough in a greased bowl, cover, and let rise about 1½ hours, or until doubled. Punch dough down, and let rise again, about 30–45 minutes. Punch down and turn out onto a floured board. Divide into 4 pieces and roll each piece into a 20-inch rope. Place ropes side by side vertically on the board and pinch tops together. Braid by taking right hand piece and going over next one, under the following one, and over the last. Repeat, always starting on the right, until fully braided. Pinch ends together. Place on a parchment-covered baking sheet, fold ends under, brush with egg wash and let sit while you heat oven to 350°. Brush dough with egg wash again and bake for 30–35 minutes, or until golden brown and bottom sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on a rack.