⅜ cup 1 tablespoon plus 1/3 cup sugar
3 ½ cup bread flour, as needed
1 ½ tsp kosher salt
3 large egg
½ cup canola oil
In a 1-cup measuring cup, combine the yeast with the 1 tablespoon sugar and 3/4 cup warm (about 105F) water. Stir and let sit until about 1 inch of foam has formed, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the 3 1/2 cups flour, 1/3 cup sugar, and salt, and stir on low speed. Make a well in the center of the mixture.
In a small bowl, combine 2 of the eggs, and the oil, mix, and pour into the well. Expand the well, then pour in the yeast mixture. Mix briefly on low speed to combine. Remove the paddle, insert the dough hook, sprinkle the mixture with 1/4 cup flour, and knead on low speed for 1 minute. If the dough is still sticky, add more flour by 1/4 cups to achieve a soft, unsticky dough. Continue to knead for a total of 5 minutes. Alternatively, to form the dough by hand, put the dry ingredients in a large bowl, make a well in it, fill with the egg and yeast mixtures, and, with clean hands, gradually incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet until thoroughly combined. Add 1/4 cup more of flour and knead, adding more flour as necessary, until the dough is formed. Transfer the dough to a work surface, and knead for 5 minutes.
Oil a medium bowl with canola oil. Form a ball with the dough and place it in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise until doubled in bulk, 2 to 3 hours. Punch the dough down, cover, and let the dough rest for 10 minutes. Oil two 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pans.
To form the challah, divide half the dough into 4 equal parts. Rolling with even pressure from the middle to the ends, roll the dough into ropes of equal size. Take all four ropes and pinch them together at the top. Think of the far right strand as #1, next as #2, then #3 and the far left as 4. Move rope 1 between 2 and 3. Pick up 3 and move it where 1 was. Now reverse the count, counting the ropes from the left, 1, 2, 3 and 4. Pick up rope 1 on the left, and move it between the new 2 and 3. Pick up the new rope 3 and move it to where the left rope 1 was. Return to the right and count from the right, as above. Continue braiding by switching back and forth between left and right. Keep braiding until you get to the end. Pinch the ends together and tuck them under the braid. Tuck the top also, if needed. Repeat to braid the remaining half dough. Place the loaves in the prepared pans, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise until tripled in bulk, about 2 hours. When the loaves have risen sufficiently the dough will not spring back when poked with a finger.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Place an empty cookie sheet on the bottom oven rack.
In a small bowl, mix the remaining egg with 2 tablespoons of water. Brush the tops of the loaves with the egg wash, making sure to get it into the crevices. Place the pans in the oven and immediately pour about 1 cup of hot water onto the empty sheet to create steam. Close the oven door immediately and bake until the loaves are golden and make a hollow sound when tapped, about 30 minutes. Turn out onto a rack and cool.
Recipe courtesy of Kosher Revolution by Geila Hocherman and Arthur Boehm/Kyle Books, 2011.