Challah is the sweet egg bread of the Sabbath. For centuries, practicing Jews
have made a week's worth of bread on Friday so that the bread would be fresh
for the Sabbath observance. The poppy or sesame seeds sprinkled on top of the braided
yeast bread represent manna, the bread God provided for the Jews during their 40-year
exodus from Egypt. This also makes delicious toast and French toast.
Dissolve yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in 1/2 cup warm water; let mixture stand
Combine oil and next 4 ingredients in large mixing bowl; beat at medium speed
with electric mixer until blended.
Add yeast mixture and 2 cups of the flour; beat until smooth.
Gradually stir in enough remaining flour to make a soft dough. (Dough
should be sticky.) Cover dough and let rest 10 minutes.
Turn dough out onto well-floured surface, and knead for 5 minutes.
Place in well-greased
bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85 degrees F),
free from drafts, 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in bulk.
Punch dough down; turn dough out onto well-floured surface, and knead several
times. Divide dough into thirds. Shape each third into a 14-inch rope. Place ropes
on a greased baking sheet (do not stretch); pinch rope ends together at one end
to seal. Braid ropes; pinch loose ends to seal.
Lightly spray with vegetable cooking
spray. Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, 30 to 40 minutes or
until doubled in bulk.
Beat egg white and water; gently brush over bread.
Sprinkle with seeds.
Bake at 375 degrees F for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden.