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Father Dominic's Challah (P, TNT)
Source: "Breaking Bread with Father Dominic"
Serves: 1 large loaf; about 20 to 25 slices

2 packages Fleischmann's Active Dry Yeast
1 cup lukewarm water
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
6 to 7-1/2 cups bread flour, divided
1-1/2 cups lukewarm water
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg, beaten, for glaze

Combine yeast, 1 cup lukewarm water and 1 tablespoon sugar in medium bowl; stir to mix. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes, or until foamy.

Stir in 2 cups of the flour; let stand about 30 minutes to let the yeast develop.

Combine 1-1/2 cups lukewarm water, oil and 3 eggs in a large bowl; mix well. Stir in 1/2 cup sugar, salt, cinnamon and vanilla. Add the yeast mixture; mix well.

Add the remaining flour, about 1 cup at a time, until you get slightly firm dough. It will be a bit softer than ordinary bread dough because of the eggs. Knead in bowl about 5 minutes. Cover and let rise in warm, draft-free place about 1-1/2 hours, or until doubled in bulk.

Punch down dough. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead briefly to work out the larger air pockets. Divide dough into 3 equal pieces.

Roll each piece into a rope, about 24" long. Braid ropes to form a loaf, tucking the ends underneath. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Cover with a clean towel and let rise until nearly doubled in bulk. The loaf will be quite large.

About 15 minutes before loaf has finished rising, preheat oven to 375°F. Brush loaf all over with beaten egg. Bake in oven about 45 minutes, or until golden brown. If your oven doesn't bake evenly, be sure to turn the pan every 10 minutes or so. Remove loaf from pan and let cool on a rack.

Poster's Notes:
A large, braided loaf is one of the traditional forms of challah. One also finds it shaped as a large braid with a smaller braid on top. I generally prefer to make two smaller single braids, as may be necessary if you have a smaller oven.

Posted by Gypsy/Phyllis Wilson