Making this braided egg bread from scratch is worth the effort.
Step 1: Mix yeast and water Mix the warm water, 1/4 cup of flour, and the yeast together in a large bowl, and let it stand for 10 to 20 minutes, until it begins to foam and puff up.
Step 2: Beat in sugar, oil, eggs, and salt Whisk in the sugar, oil, three eggs, and salt.
TIP: You can substitute ¼ cup honey for the sugar.
Step 3: Add the flour Add in the rest of the flour 1 cup at a time, kneading it in with your hands once the mixture thickens. Knead for about five minutes until smooth, adding flour if it's too sticky. Put the dough in a clean bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and let it rise until the dough has doubled in size, about two hours.
Step 4: Punch it Punch the dough down and transfer it to a lightly-floured surface. Knead for about five minutes, adding flour if needed.
Step 5: Make a braid Divide the dough into three equal parts and roll each piece into an approximately 9-inch long rope. Braid the three ropes together, and pinch the ends together to seal.
Step 6: Let it sit Put the braid on a greased baking sheet, cover with a dishcloth, and let it rise until it has doubled in size. The dough should stay dented when you poke it, instead of springing back into place.
Step 7: Preheat oven Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Beat the remaining egg and brush it on the top of the braid. Sprinkle with poppy seeds if you like.
Step 8: Bake Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until bread is golden brown. Test for doneness by taking it out of the oven and rapping it on the bottom with your knuckles; if it sounds hollow, it's ready.
TIP: If the top is browning too fast, tent it with foil.
Step 9: Enjoy! Cool at least one hour before slicing. If you have any left over, use it for French toast in the morning!
FACT: Challah loaves are shaped into spirals for the celebration of the Jewish New Year.