Get the children excited about the Sabbath by involving them in preparations. They love to squish the dough in a plastic bag.
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
3 cups unbleached or all-purpose flour
2 pkg. of Rapid Rise yeast or 1 1/2 tbsp. instant-active bulk yeast
1 1/2 tsp. salt
Put half of the flour, all the yeast and salt in a gallon size zipper-lock bag or a large sturdy plastic bag (younger child may need another person to hold it tightly). Force all the air out of the bag, close and work the bag with your fingers to mix the ingredients together.
1 2/3 cups very warm water (120oF. Use candy thermometer to make sure it isn’t too hot. If it is too hot the bread won’t rise; if too cool, it will take longer to rise.)
1/4 cup oil or softened margarine
1/4 cup honey
Carefully squeeze out air, seal bag and work bag with fingers until well mixed.
Add the other half of your flour. You will mix well, then watch to see if you need any extra flour. If you do, only add 1/4 cup at a time. The dough should feel soft like new “play-dough,” and will pull away
from the sides of the bag and stick to itself. If you add too much flour the dough will be too hard, like clay, and will not rise as well. Work the bag, mixing well.
Rest the dough (and you) for ten minutes. Spray or lightly oil cookie sheet.
Turn out dough onto light floured surface (about one cup of either flour).
Sprinkle some flour on top and knead several minutes until smooth and elastic. ‘Knead’ means pushing the
dough forward with the ‘heel’ of the palm of your hand, then using your fingers to pull it back over itself. Repeat, turning dough as needed.
Break off about one third dough. This will be for your top braid. Separate it into 3 equal parts and roll between your hands to shape into 8″ or 9″. long ropes. Braid the ropes.
Now take the big portion of dough and divide it into 3 parts. Shape these into 14″ to 15″ ropes and braid. Place the larger braid on cookie sheet first and put the smaller one lengthwise on top.
Let rise until double in size. This will take 45 minutes to 1 hour away from a draft.
Preheat your oven to 325o. This takes 7 to 8 minutes. If you don’t, the bread will get too brown on the bottom before it’s done on top.
For Added Shine
For added shine and color, you can beat one egg white and use a basting brush to gently ‘paint’ your challah braids on the top and sides.
Bake on the middle rack for 45 to 55 minutes until nicely brown (ovens vary).
This loaf is equal to two medium loaves. It weighs about 2 1/4 pounds.
If your family is small, you may want to halve the recipe.