3 Cups unbleached white all-purpose flour, divided
1 Tbs active dry yeast
1/2 tsp sugar, for yeast/sponge
1/2 tsp salt (table salt)
1/2 cup warm water, divided (90-110 or temp your yeast needs)
2 1/2 Tbs plus 1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 eggs,at room temperature
1 Tbsp water, cold
2 Tbsp poppy seeds
Using electric mixer with dough hook at slow speed (2).
Place 2 cups of the flour in the mixing bowl, make indentation into flour, and place yeast and sugar in indentation.
Add 1/4 cup of the water and mix. When sponge rises (approx. 5 mins), add eggs one at a time and blend thoroughly. Then add salt, remainder of the flour along with warm water, oil, and sugar. If batter is too loose add flour and bring dough to an elastic state. If batter is too tight, add a bit of water.
Let machine and knead 3 to 4 minutes more. Place dough ball in a greased bowl, cover, and let rise to double in size (approx 1 1/2 hours.) Punch down dough and remove from bowl.
Challah requires 6 braids, however, this is a 3 strand braid - it's a lot easier. Cut dough into three pieces. Form each piece of dough into 3 equal strands at 14” long.
Pinch the tops of the 3 strands together and braid the dough. Place on a lightly corn meal covered, parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Cover and let rise for the second time, one hour.
Preheat oven to 400.
Slightly beat the egg and cold water to make an egg wash. Brush egg wash on top of loaf and and then sprinkle poppy seeds on top.
Bake for 15 minutes then change the temperature to 350°F. Baking time should be about 30 minutes.
Yield: One Loaf