Yield:2 (1-pound) challah loaves, 1 (1 1/2-pound) challah loaf plu
1 envelope instant yeast
3 3/4 cups bread flour
3/4 cup warm water (about 110 degrees F)
2 large eggs, plus 1 egg for glazing
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
1/4 cup sugar
Poppy seeds or sesame seeds, for sprinkling
In a large bowl, whisk together the yeast and 3/4 cup of the flour, then whisk in the warm water until smooth. Let stand uncovered for 10 to 20 minutes, or until it begins to ferment and puff up slightly.
Whisk the 2 eggs, oil, salt, and sugar into the puffed yeast slurry until the eggs are well incorporated and the salt and sugar have dissolved. With your hands or a wooden spoon, stir in the remaining 3 cups flour all at once. When the mixture is a shaggy ball, scrape it out onto your work surface and knead it until smooth and soft, no more than 10 minutes. (Soak your mixing bowl in hot water now to clean it and warm it if you would like to use if for fermenting the dough).
Place the dough in the warm cleaned bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. Let the dough ferment until it has at least doubled in bulk, about 2 hours, depending on the temperature in your kitchen.
Line 1 or 2 large baking sheets, depending on how many breads you are making, with parchment paper or oil them. Divide the dough into 2 (1-pound) portions for loaves, 1 (1 1/2-pound) portion for a large loaf (you will have enough dough left to make 3 rolls also), or 16 (2-ounce) portions for rolls. Braid or shape them as desired, position them on the prepared sheets, and cover well with plastic wrap. Let proof until tripled in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Meanwhile, 30 minutes before baking, arrange the oven racks in the upper and lower third positions if using 2 baking sheets, or arrange 1 rack in the upper third position if using 1 baking sheet, and remove any racks above them. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Beat the remaining egg with a pinch of salt for glazing the breads.
When the loaves have tripled in size and they do not push back when gently pressed with your finger but remain indented, brush them with the egg glaze. If desired, sprinkle with poppy or sesame seeds. Bake rolls for 15 to 20 minutes, the 1-pound loaves for 25 to 35 minutes, or the 1 1/2-pound loaf for 35 to 45 minutes, until very well browned. After the first 20 minutes of baking, switch the loaves from front to back so that they brown evenly. If the large loaf is browning too quickly, tent it with foil. When the loaves are done, remove them from the oven and let them cool on a rack.
This recipe was provided by a chef, restaurant or culinary professional. It has not been tested for home use.