Traditionally, the Shabbos after Pesach is referred to as "Shlissel Shabbos." We decorate our challahs with a piece of dough shaped like a key or place an actual metal key inside each challah. Some creative cooks cut their bilkelach using a large key-shaped cookie cutter.
If you have never baked challah, now is a good time to start. Following our recipe makes it easy. There are few steps and no complicated instructions. While scores of our readers are talented balabustas who have been baking challah for years and have always stood by their recipes; we are proud to say that many a seasoned cook has tried our recipe and switched.
Our challah recipe calls for instant yeast; the yeast that does not require rehydrating. This yeast is simply added to the flour in your bowl—no need to dissolve. Don’t confuse "instant yeast" with "active dry yeast" which does need to be rehydrated before adding other ingredients.
It also speeds up your challah baking as it cuts the rising time in half. We like Fleishman’s instant yeast as it yields consistent results.
If your grocery does not sell hi gluten bread flour or bakery flour, you may want to purchase it from your local bakery rather than using bread flour off the supermarket shelf. It will probably be fresher and yield better results. Either way, always sift it for a lighter texture.
5 pounds hi gluten flour, bakery flour or bread flour
3/4 cup sugar
5 cups warm water
3 extra-large eggs or 4 large eggs
3/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
3 tablespoons kosher salt
2 eggs, beaten
sesame or poppy seeds
Sift the flour into your mixer bowl. Add the instant yeast and sugar. Stir to combine. Add eggs and oil. Add the water and add the salt last. Mix at medium speed for 10-12 minutes.
Remove dough from the mixer bowl and allow to proof (rise) in a large bowl covered with plastic wrap for 45 minutes. Take "challah."
Divide dough into 5 equal parts. To be really precise, you can weigh each piece on a scale and check that they are equal.
Using one of the 5 pieces, divide it into 6 equal pieces. Knead each piece lightly and roll into a strand approximately 6 inches long. Place all 6 strands on Silpat or lightly floured counter top. Pinch all the strands together at the top. Use our easy to follow braiding method to braid six strands.
Remove from oven and cool until you can comfortably touch the pans. Remove the challah from the pans and continue to cool on a cooling rack to promote air circulation and keep the challah from becoming damp due to the condensation in the pan.