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Star Shaped Challah

This most famous of Jewish yeast breads is most often seen in its traditional braided form. Instead of the braid shape, follow these directions for forming Challah (KHAH-luh) into a star shape.1 package active dry yeast
3/4 cup warm water (110 degrees F)
3 to 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 egg white
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch ground saffron (optional)
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon water
2 teaspoons sesame seedDissolve yeast in the 3/4 cup warm water in a large bowl. Let stand until bubbly (about 5 minutes). Stir in 1 1/4 cups of the flour, the sugar, egg, egg white, oil, salt, and saffron, if desired. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds, scraping bowl constantly. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Stir in as much remaining flour as you can with a wooden spoon.Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in enough of the remaining flour to make a moderately soft dough that is smooth and elastic (3 to 5 minutes total). Shape into a ball. Place in a lightly greased bowl; turn once to grease surface. Cover; let rise in a warm place until double (1 hour).Punch down dough. Divide in half. Cover; let rest 10 minutes.Shape each piece into a 32-inch-long rope. On a greased cookie sheet, shape one rope into a triangle; pinch ends together. Form a six-pointed star by weaving the second rope over and under the first triangle, forming a second triangle; pinch ends together. Make six 2-inch balls of foil. Place foil in holes that form star points. Cover; let rise in a warm place until nearly double (about 30 minutes).Combine egg yolk and 1 tablespoon water. Brush over loaf. Sprinkle with sesame seed. Bake in a 375 degree F oven about 25 minutes or until bread sounds hollow when tapped, covering with foil after 15 minutes of baking to prevent over-browning. Remove and cool on a wire rack. Makes 1 loaf (16 servings).Wreath-Shaped Challah
Prepare as above, except divide dough into 3 pieces. Cover and let rest 10 minutes. Shape each piece into a 22-inch-long rope. Loosely braid ropes. Place braided dough onto a greased cookie sheet. Form braid into a wreath shape; pinch ends together. Cover and let rise; brush with egg yolk and water; sprinkle with sesame seed and bake as directed.Make-ahead tip: Bake and cool bread as directed. Place in an airtight freezer container or wrap in foil and place in a large plastic freezer bag. Seal, label, and freeze up to 3 months. Thaw 1 hour at room temperature before serving.


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