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Note: this makes one gi-normous loaf - about the size of a one-year old child. After the first rise and "punch-down" you may choose to divide the dough in half and then each half into thirds to make two braided loaves.
This is a pretty foolproof recipe and an easy way to attempt challah for the first time. Click on the link below to see how to properly braid the dough for the traditional loaf.
2 packages active dry yeast
1/2 cup sugar, less one tablespoon
Measure milk in measuring cup. Boil water. Mix yeast, sugar and flour in bowl. Add hot water to cold milk and stir to cool. Add liquid to yeast mix. Beat for a minute to make a thin batter. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 15 minutes until foaming and puffed up.
Meanwhile, beat together sugar and shortening. Add eggs and beat for one minute. Add yeast mixture and beat one minute. Now add flour, a cup at a time, (4 cups) and mix until sticky dough forms.
Place dough on floured surface along with your last cup of flour off to the side of it. Knead dough, add flour to surface as needed, for 7-8 minutes until you have a nice, smooth and elastic dough that no longer sticks to countertop.
Place in well-greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place in warm spot to rise to double-in-bulk, about 1-1/4/ hours.
Punch dough down and slice into three pieces. Roll each one out to about 12" long. Braid as directed. Pinch ends.
Beat the one egg and salt. Brush loaf with eggwash, cover with plastic wrap and let rise again, about 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375 during the last 15 minutes of this 2nd rise. Brush loaf again with egg wash and bake in oven for 40-45 mintes. Cool on wire rack.
Makes a great sandwich bread and awesome french toast.