This rich challah dough is not formed into braids for the High Holy Days, rather it is shaped in the form of a turban or snail. This is symbolic of the hope that the year will be filled with continuous good health and well being. If the challah is made into one very large challah there is the risk that the center will be under baked or the outer ring will be dry and over baked depending on the baking time you choose. I never use more than 2/3 of the dough to make a large challah.
7- 7 1/2 cups bread flour, King Arthur or Gold medal Better for Bread
2 packages rapid rise yeast
1 1/2 cups water
2 sticks parve margarine or butter
1/4 teaspoon yellow food coloring
3/4 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons poppy seeds
1 Tablespoon salt
4 large eggs
1 cup raisins, optional
EGG WASH-1 egg mixed with 1 Tablespoon water and 1 teaspoon of honey
In a large mixer bowl combine 6 1/2 cups of the flour and the yeast. Stir to combine.
Heat the water, margarine, food coloring, sugar, poppy seed and the salt in a saucepan until very warm (140F). Water should be uncomfortably hot to your finger but not hot enough to burn you.(It will feel like hot tap water).
Add the warm liquid mixture to the flour while the mixer is on low. As the liquid is being incorporated, add the eggs. Mix thoroughly.
Gradually add the remaining flour only until a fairly firm dough is formed. This process should take about 7 minutes whether you are using the dough hook on your mixer or are kneading it by hand. The mixture will be satiny smooth and will not stick to a lightly floured finger tip when touched. If adding raisins, add after 5 minutes of kneading
Turn your oven on for 1 minute. TURN YOUR OVEN OFF. Lightly grease a bowl with oil and turn the dough in the bowl to oil all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the TURNED OFF oven until doubled in size, about 30-45 minutes.
Punch down the dough and divide in half or thirds. Divide each portion into 1 large rope and coil the dough around itself to make a round of dough that looks like a turban. Make sure to pinch the end of the dough under to prevent uncoiling during baking. Place formed breads on a greased cookie sheet or parchment paper and allow to rise until light and doubled, about 25 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375F. Brush the tops of the loaves with the egg wash and bake for 25-35 minutes depending on the size of the loaves. When the bread is done, it will be golden brown and have a hollow sound when tapped.