Challah is a soft, fluffy braided bread enriched with with eggs and olive oil. It has a soft, moist texture that is just slightly sweet, owing to the sugar in the recipe. Its deep, golden braids and burgeoning white interior really catch the eye on the table. I chose to do a 3 strand challah (which I struggled enough with) but you could do 4, 5, 6 - I've even heard of 12 strands- depending on your proficiency.

Makes 1 large challah bread
Adapted from "The Bread Baker's Apprentice' by Peter Reinhart

 510g strong white bread flour
5g dried yeast (8g if using fresh)
30g caster sugar
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
2 egg yolks (ideally reserve the whites for egg wash)
3 tablespoons olive oil (non virgin)
525 ml milk (or substitute for water)
Poppy seeds for sprinkling(optional)

1. In a bowl, stir together the flour, yeast, sugar and salt.

2. In a separate bowl whisk together the whole eggs and egg yolks, oil and milk. Form a well in the flour and pour in the egg mixture. Mix to form a dough. Knead the dough until it feels elastic and can pass a 'window pane' when stretched.

3. Leave the dough to rise in an oiled bowl until doubled - about an 1 hour. Degas the dough and leave to rise until doubled again.

4. Once doubled, degas the dough and turn it out. Divide into 3 pieces then leave for 10 minutes to rest the gluten.

5. Grease the work surface liberally to avoid sticking. Roll the 3 pieces of dough into (around) 40 cm 'baguette' shapes aiming for them to be a roughly equal size.

6. Put the 3 strands/'baguettes' parallel to each other and the ends facing you. Number the strands 1, 2 and 3 starting from your left (ie so that 2 is in the middle and 3 on the right).

7. Starting at half-way along the dough strands and working towards you, take 3 over 2 then 1 over 2. Repeat until you reach the end of the the half of the loaf facing you. Pinch the ends together to seal.

8. Rotate the loaf 180° so that the unbraided half is facing towards you.

9.  Now take 3 under 2 then 1 under 2. Repeat until the loaf is braided and again, pinch the end to seal.

10. Transfer the challah carefully to a greased, parchment/baking paper lined tray and leave to rise until doubled - about an hour.

11. Preheat the oven to 175C. Brush the challah with the left over egg white and sprinkle with poppy seeds.

12. Bake for 40 minutes, covering the dough with foil half-way through baking if the challah is getting too dark. Leave to cool and enjoy.

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