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Allison's (no longer) Secret Challah

This untraditional challah recipe always gets rave reviews. For a bread, it's pretty easy. Be sure when adding flour, before the first rise, to make sure the dough is not too sticky. The dough will relax and become softer during the rising process.

2 packages yeast active dry yeast (not instant)
½ cup warm water (very warm to the touch, but you should be able to leave your finger in it)

1 tablespoon honey orange blossom honey
1 ¼ cups warm orange juice (same as water) from about 5 large naval oranges
¾-1 cup honey orange blossom honey
1 ½ teaspoons fine sea salt
½ cup canola oil, plus extra for greasing bowl
1 large egg, beaten
7-10 cups bread flour, plus extra for dusting King Arthur Flour Unbleached Bread Flour
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon cool water

scissors (to cut open yeast packages)
measuring cups and spoons
1 citrus reamer or fork (to juice the oranges)
1 small pot (to warm water)
1 medium pot (to warm orange juice)
1 small bowl
1 small whisk or fork
1 large mixing bowl with a whisk or 1 electric stand mixer with large bowl, paddle and dough hook attachments and a rubber spatula KitchenAidâ Professional 6-Quart
1 counter or bread board (for kneading and/or shaping)
bench scraper
1 large bowl (for rising)
plastic wrap
1 large baking sheet
parchment paper
damp cloth
pastry brush
cooling racks

Proof the Yeast
1. In a small bowl using a small whisk or fork, dissolve yeast and 1 tablespoon honey in warm water. Set aside for 5 minutes.

Mix the Dough
Hand Mixing Method:
2. In a large mixing bowl with a whisk, mix together orange juice, honey, salt, oil, and egg.
3. Add yeast mixture, and mix.
4. Slowly mix in flour until dough can be handled.
5. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until dough bounces back when gently pressed with fingers, add more flour as needed. (Dough should not be too sticky and will have a smooth finish on top.)

Electric Stand Mixer Method:
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on low speed (Setting 2), mix together the orange juice, honey, salt, oil, and egg.
3. Add the yeast mixture, continue mixing.
4. Add about a cup of flour, mix until well incorporated.
5. Switch to the dough hook attachment. Mix on medium speed (Setting 4), while slowly adding flour until dough holds its shape and bounces back when gently pressed with fingers. (Dough should not be too sticky and will have a smooth finish on top.)

Let the Dough Rise
6. Oil a bowl and put dough in oiled side up. Press plastic wrap against dough and inside of bowl to seal. Refrigerate overnight.
7. At least an hour before you are ready to shape the dough, remove it from the refrigerator.

Shape the Dough
8. Turn dough out onto bread board. Cut the dough into six even pieces, rolling each piece into a ball. Wrap in lightly oiled plastic wrap. Let rest for 15 minutes.
9. Roll each ball into a rope, approximately 17 inches long. Braid the dough, making two loaves. Push the ends in slightly, creating a fuller appearance to the loaves.

Let the Dough Rise (yes, again)
10. Preheat oven to 400°F.
11. Move loaves onto a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. (Be sure to allow enough room for rising.)
12. Cover with a damp cloth, and let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour until the loaves double in size.

Glaze and Bake
13. Lower oven temperature to 375°F.
14. In a small bowl with a small whisk or fork, beat the egg with water.
15. Brush egg mixture over loaves and bake for 30 minutes – 1 hour until bread is golden and sounds hollow when tapped. Move immediately onto wire cooling racks.

Yields 2 Large Loaves

© 2008 by Allison Lattman

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