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Challah for the holidays

One of best parts of the spring holidays growing up was always Mom-Mom’s fresh out-of-the-oven breads, like paska bread.

The house would smell like the holidays simply because there was fresh bread of out the oven. We could not wait for her to slice the loaves, still warm, for us to sample with or without butter from the lamb butter mold.

You will want to slice this challah bread warm out of the oven, too.

Challah is great just plain, with a cinnamon butter spread, topped with chicken salad, piled high with leftover turkey or with peanut butter and jelly.

Challah bread is not only easy to make but versatile. You can make great bread pudding with challah because it just drinks in the custard.

French toast is amazing with challah.

This recipe is fairly cheap to make too. The recipe has eggs and flour and a few other ingredients. It is dairy-free. Challah is light and delicious, a great holiday bread.

Challah Bread

7½ cups of all-purpose flour

1 1/3 cups of a cup of lukewarm water

1/3 of a cup of a neutral oil such as canola, safflower, sunflower or grapeseed oil

3 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks at room temperature

1/4 cup of sugar

2 tablespoons of honey

1 tablespoon plus 1½ teaspoons of SAF (red or gold) instant yeast

2½ of kosher salt

1 egg plus 1 teaspoon of water for the egg wash, stored in a small bowl for later.

In your stand-up mixing bowl, mix all of your ingredients on low speed for two minutes. After two minutes, knead the dough on medium speed for five to six minutes. You can also knead the dough on low speed for about 10 minutes if your mixer is not capable of handling this dough.

After your dough is done kneading, shape the dough into a ball and place it into a container that has been oiled. Allow the dough to rise for 1½ to 2 hours until the dough has just about doubled in size.

Once your dough is ready, set the dough unto a lightly floured container. Cut the dough in half and make two braided loaves. I tuck the ends under on each loaf after braiding.

Place the loaves onto a parchment-lined sheet pan, covering them with lightly oiled plastic wrap. Let allow the loaves to rise for 1-1½ hours. While the loaves are rising, preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

When the bread loaves have risen and are ready to be baked, brush the loaves with the egg wash. Bake them for about 25 minutes, until each loaf has an internal temperature of 198 degrees Fahrenheit, tested with a kitchen thermometer.

Place the finished bread onto cooling racks and cool completely before slicing. You can store this bread at room temperature for about three to five days, longer in the refrigerator.

You can also freeze the bread whole or sliced for later use, wrapping each loaf separately and well.

Sarah Schweitzer is dual-certified in Culinary Arts and Baking & Pastry from the Escoffier School of Culinary Arts. She is a former line cook for Chef Robert Irvine at “Fresh Kitchen by Robert Irvine.” Sarah is currently working as a Sous-Chef at Ateira’s on First and has her own blog simplysarah.online. She can be reached at sarah.schweitzer18@gmail.com.

Challah bread