Challah

1 braided loaf

1/2 cup warm water (105-115f) 1 package (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast combine in a large bowl and let stand until the yeast is dissolved, about 5 mins. add: 1/2 cup bread flour 2 large eggs lightly beaten 2 large yolks lightly beaten 3tbs vegetable oil 3tbs sugar 1 1/4 tsp salt

mix by hand or on low speed until thoroughly blended. gradually stir in: 2 1/2 cups bread flour knead for about 8 mins by hand or with the dough hook on low to medium speed until the dough is smooth and elastic and no longer sticks to your hands or the bowl. transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and turn it once to coat with oil. coverwith plastic wrap or a clean cloth and let rise in a warm place (75-85f) until doubled in bulk 1 to 1 1/2 hours punch down the dough, knead briefly, and return to the bowl. refrigerate, covered, until it has nearly doubled in volume (a three quarter rise is sufficient), 2 to 12 hours. the dough is now ready to be shaped. divide the dough into 3 pieces. on an unfloured work surface roll into balls. let rest, loosely covered with plastic wrap dor 10 mins. grease a bakeing sheet and sprinkle it with cornmeal. roll each ball into a 13- to 14 inch long rope about 1 1/2 inches thick and slightly tapered at the ends. dust the 3 ropes with flour so they will be more distinctly separated when baked. place the ropes side by side and pinch the tops ends together. braid to the other ends and then tuck those underneath and set on bakeing sheet. whisk together and brush over the top of loaf: 1 egg pinch of salt loosely cover the bread with lightly oiled plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until not quite doubled, about 45mins. preheat oven to 375f. brush the loaf again with egg wash. if desired sprinkle with 1 tbs poppy of sesame seeds. bake until the crust is golden brown and the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped, 30-35 mins. let cool completely on rack.

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