3/4 cup water
1/4 cup margarine or butter, cut up
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast or bread machine yeast
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Beaten egg white or milk, for brushing top of challah before baking
1. Add the first 9 ingredients (water through vanilla extract) to a 1 1/2 or 2-pound bread machine according to the manufacturer's directions. Select the dough cycle. When cycle is complete, remove dough. Punch down. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.
2. Divide the dough into thirds. On a lightly floured surface, roll each portion into an 18-inch long rope. To shape, line up the ropes, 1 inch apart, on a large greased or parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Starting in the middle, loosely braid by bringing the left rope under the center rope. Bring the right rope under the new center rope. Repeat to end. On the other end, braid by bringing the outside ropes alternately over the center rope to center. Press ends together; tuck under slightly.
3. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 35 to 45 minutes or until nearly double. Brush top of challah with beaten egg white or milk and bake in a 375 degree F (190 C) oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until bread sounds hollow when lightly tapped.
4. Remove from baking sheet; cool on a wire rack.
Makes 1 loaf, 16 servings.
Photograph taken by Diana Baker Woodall© 2003
Date: October 31, 2002-Revised on December 11, 2003