Yes, that's correct, a GREAT challah recipe that always works and really does not have eggs in it! If you prefer a good egg challah recipe, visit www.TasteofChallah.com. However, take it from me; this challah recipe is worth the time and effort, it has amazing results!
This is from chapter 2, “Seven Steps to Amazing Challah”. Presented here are steps 2 through 3. See below for braiding directions (from Chapter 3)
Step Two: Making the Dough
ALWAYS PERFECT NO-EGG CHALLAH
16–17 cups freshly sifted white flour
4¾–5 cups warm water
1⅓–1½ cups sugar
75 grams fresh yeast (if fresh is not available, you can substitute 3 T. of dry yeast)
1 cup canola oil
1 T. salt
Sift the flour. This can be done the night before and placed in a large garbage bag to save time, although you can certainly sift the flour the same day you plan to make the dough. Close the bag tightly until ready for use.
Boil a few cups of water. In one small pareve bowl or measuring cup, put 1 cup boiling water and 1 cup tap water together. Test with your finger to make sure it is very warm but not boiling. Water that is too hot kills the yeast activity.
Add ¼ cup of the sugar to this water and then the fresh yeast. Cover this small bowl with a plate and set it aside for 10 minutes to make sure the yeast starts bubbling. This means the yeast is activating. If the yeast doesn’t bubble, it means the yeast is not good; discard, and start again.
In a large mixer bowl (if you have a mixer; if not, you can also do this by hand), place in this order:
the rest of the sugar
2 cups warm water
8 cups flour
Mix all very well until a thin sort of batter forms. After the yeast mixture has bubbled, add this also and mix again.
Now start adding the remaining flour slowly, one or two cups at a time, until it is all mixed in.
By this point, all of the ingredients except for the remaining water should be mixed in. The total amount of water used so far is about 4 cups.
Keep adding a quarter cup of water at a time to the dough until a pliable, smooth, and non-sticky consistency is reached.
If the dough is too firm, you need to add a bit more water and also 2 more Tablespoons of oil. If the dough is too soft or wet, add a bit more flour, even if you have to go over the 17-cup limit somewhat. In general, you will use a total of about 5 cups of water. Climates, different flours, and different yeasts all make a vast difference in this stage.
Grease your hands or a large plastic spatula with a fine layer of oil. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix the dough at the very bottom of the bowl to ensure that all the flour is well mixed into your dough, and that it is uniform in texture all around. If there is excess flour on the bottom of the bowl, you may need to add a bit more oil to the bottom of the bowl before remixing. Use a little oil rather than water in order to keep the dough from becoming too sticky from using water.
IN GENERAL, in order to keep your dough pliable, non-sticky, and smooth, use small amounts of oil on the outside of the dough, NOT extra flour. Too much flour dries out the dough in the long run, whereas the fine layer of oil keeps it from sticking and makes it easier to work with, helps it rise better, and enhances its overall taste.
Step Three: The First Rising
When the dough is ready and before you set it to rise, take challah. See the section on the Halachos of Separating Challah, page 184-199 for more details.
Cover the bowl with the dough inside - do not remove it from the mixer yet — and let it rise in the bowl for 10 minutes.
Uncover and knead, with a drop more oil, for another 5 minutes.
For added smoothness, you can cover the dough one more time for 10 minutes, and then knead by hand the final time for another 5minutes until smooth and workable.
Just look at how much nicer that same messy, ugly dough appears now!
Grease your hands lightly and remove the dough from the mixing bowl.
At this point, it is appropriate to do the mitzvah of “separating challah”, if your dough is large enough. See the laws of Separating Challah on pages 187-100 at the end of this book.
If you are not shaping challahs until later on in the day, or if you chose to make the dough at night in order to shape and bake it the next morning, place the dough in a very large garbage bag and remove all the air from the bag. Tie the ends of the bag together, giving the dough plenty of space to rise, and place the bag in the fridge. Remove from the fridge 30–45 minutes before you want to be ready to shape the challahs.
If you are shaping right away, leave the dough in the garbage bag, or covered well with plastic, on the counter for one hour before shaping. It will rise at least double its size.
When ready to shape, prepare the table or working surface by cleaning it well and then smearing it with a very fine layer of oil. No extra flour is needed at this point!
Now you are ready to shape the dough. Prepare your hands by coating them with a very thin amount of oil.
WOVEN ROUND CHALLAH