Into a large bowl, measure 2 cups of the
flour. Set aside. Into a blender jar, pour the water, yeast, and
remaining cup of flour. Cover and blend at low speed (whip). Uncover
and continue blending while adding the oil, sugar, large egg, and
salt. Blend until the mixture is smooth.
Pour the batter over the reserved
flour. Mix thoroughly with a spoon until a ball of dough forms.
Place in a lightly greased bowl, turning to grease all sides. Cover
and let rise in a warm draft-free place for 1½ hours or until
doubled in bulk. Stir down.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Shape the dough into challah, braided
or unbraided. To shape into two small braided challahs, divide the
dough in half. Divide each part into 3 equal parts. Rool each part
into a long coil of even thickness. Pinch together the tops of all 3
pieces. Start to braid by taking the outer right strip and crossing
it over the center strip, bringing it to the center. Then take the
outer left strip and cross it over the middle strip, bringing it to
the center. Repeat the procedure by alternately bringing the right
strip to the center and the left to the center until all are
braided. Pinch the ends together. Tuck the ends in carefully.
Transfer the bread to a greased loaf pan. Repeat with the remaining
dough. If you choose to make one large braid challah, use a 9 x 13 x
2-inch baking pan.
For a round challa, shape the dough
round with your cupped hands. Place in a greased 9-inch round baking
pan. For a round spiral challah, roll the dough into a long coil.
Form into a spiral by twisting the dough 'round and 'round into a
spiral that thins toward the top.
Cover and let rise in a warm place
until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Beat the remaining egg with the
tablespoon of water just to blend. Brush the top of the breads with
the egg wash. Sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds if desired. Bake
for about 40 minutes, until the breads are well browned and sound
hollow when tapped with a knife handle or spoon. Remove to racks to
Into a large bowl of an electric
mixer, measure 2 cups of the flour. Prepare the other mixture as
above and pour this over the flour in the mixer bowl. Using a dough
hook, beat on low speed until the dough clings to the hook and
cleans the sides of the bowl, about 3 minutes. Continue to knead for
an additional 3 minutes. Cover the bowl and set in a warm draft-free
place until doubled in bulk. Continue as above.
Note: When baking challah,
grease the pan with solid vegetable shortening rather than oil. Oil
has a tendency to be absorbed into the bread dough whereas a solid
vegetable shortening does not. Also, the pans will be easier