Because this was a spiral bread, I still have to find a braided bread to make someday or better yet, perhaps I will double this recipe and braid it next time. This was truly a wonderful bread. It's all rich and egg-y...like a brioche but without the milk. Anyway, I served it as a side with some beef stew. My kids went through the first loaf like nobody's business and were well into the second by the time dinner was over. I will probably toast the rest.
The recipe calls for tenting the bread with a paper sack after 10 minutes. I did, for about 10 minutes, and then started freaking out that the paper was going to catch on fire in my gas oven, so I removed it after yet another 10 minutes. I don't think the bread got too brown, so, if you are a worry wart, like me, go ahead and remove it after a bit.
Challah (adapted from Flamingo Musings)
1 cup warm water
2 Tbsp instant yeast
3 whole eggs, slightly beaten
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 tsp salt
3 Tbsp sugar
4-5 cups flour (I use Blue Bird - it's 100% wheat and comes in a cotton flour sack!)
In a mixing bowl, combine the warm water and the yeast. Let it bubble and then add the sugar and salt. Melt the butter in a small microwavable bowl and then add the eggs to the butter to cool it down (make sure it's not so hot that it cooks the eggs, though!). Add the egg mixture to the yeast mixture and stir a bit. Add 4 cups of the flour to the dough and stir by hand or use a dough hood attachment on a stand mixer. Slowly add the last cup until you have a firm, smooth dough. Knead for 5 minutes in the machine or on a floured surface. Place in an oiled bowl, cover and let rise for 1 hour. Punch down and divide in half. Roll each half into a long snake with one end fatter than the other. Starting with the fat end roll up in a spiral and place the beehive looking loaves on either a greased baking sheet or a silpat lined one. Cover and let rise another hour. Brush with an egg wash (1 egg + 1 tsp water) and sprinkle with poppy seeds. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes, tenting with that paper sack after 10 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.