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Challah with Saffron

2 packages dry yeast
5 cups bread or all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup butter or margarine, room temperature
1 cup hot water (120-130)
pinch saffron
3 eggs
1 egg white
1 egg yolk beaten, mixed with 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 teaspoon cold water
1 teaspoon poppy seeds

In a large mixing bowl combine the yeast, 2 cups flour, sugar,
salt, and butter or margarine. Gradually add the hot water and beat
forcefully by hand or at medium speed using the mixer flat beater,
for 2 minutes.

Scrape the bowl occasionally. Add the saffron, eggs and egg white
(reserving the yolk). The batter will be thick. Beat at high speed
for 2 minutes. Continue to add flour with a wooden spoon or change
to a dough hook in the mixer. Add about 3 additional cups of flour,
one at a time, until the rough mass is no longer sticky. If it
continues to be moist, add small amounts of flour until the dough
cleans the sides of the bowl.

Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead until it is smooth
and elastic, about 10 minutes.

Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover tightly with plastic
wrap and set aside until it has doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Remove plastic wrap, punch the dough down and knead out the bubbles.
Divide the dough in half.

To braid, divide each half into three equal pieces. Under your
palms roll each into a 12" length. Lay the rolls parallel to each

Start the braid in the middle and work to one end. Pinch the end
securely together. Turn around and complete the other end. Repeat
with the other dough half.

Carefully brush the braids with the egg glaze. Sprinkle liberally
with poppy seeds.

Don't cover the braids for the second rise. They will double in
bulk in about an hour.

Preheat oven to 400 before baking. Bake until the braids are shiny
brown, 30 to 40 minutes, and test done when a toothpick inserted
in the center comes out dry and clean.

Carefully remove the bread from the baking sheet and cool on wire
racks. A long braided loaf fresh from the oven is fragile and
should be moved with care (and a spatula under it's bottom). Do
not cut until it has cooled and firmed a bit.


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