focaccia challah recipe, which I hope you will find as flavorful and fantastic as my family does. It also has considerably less sugar and oil than many other challah recipes. To make up for this, I add a crumb topping and either chocolate chips or a cinnamon/sugar combo... or both. Feel free to experiment: you really can't lose.
4 and a half cups water
4 packages dry yeast
4 teaspoons sugar
2/3 cup olive oil
12 cups flour
2 tablespoons coarse salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup canola oil or margarine
1 cup flour
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
Combine the first four ingredients in a bowl and set aside for 5 minutes. Preheat your oven to 250 degrees then turn the oven off.
In a separate bowl, combine and mix the flour with the salt.
In a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment, combine contents of both bowls slowly. If you have a 4 or 5 quart mixer, when dough forms, you may want to take out some dough to make space to combine the rest of your ingredients to create a uniform dough.
Place all the dough together in a large oven-safe bowl sprayed with oil. If the dough is uniform, no more kneading is required. If the dough has some flour still visible and needs some more kneading, do so now. I sometimes place back some of the dough into the mixer to finish it kneading.
When all is kneaded and placed in the bowl, cover the bowl with foil sprayed with oil. Place this in the warm oven that has been turned off. Wait until the dough has almost doubled in size. This takes approximately an hour.
Remove from the oven and shape the loaves. I coil together round loaves for the Yom Tovim, and braids for the rest of the year. You may add an egg wash here if you like, though I do not as we have an egg allergy at home (beat two eggs and paint all exposed parts of the loaves). Combine the crumb topping and add ingredients only until you've reached a nice crumbly consistency. Sprinkle crumbs on top as well as chocolate chips or cinnamon (I like to create nooks and crannies in the dough, especially for chocolate chips and crumbs). Note: Margarine rather than oil makes for a softer crumb, if that is what you are looking for. Crumbs made with oil are harder and more crunchy-cookie-like.
Bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes. The challah is done when the tops are nicely browned.