I posted my French Toast casserole dish, earlier and suggested that you use a homemade challah or brioche.  Then I realized that I had not shared my challah or brioche bread recipe.  You may already have your own favorite recipe for these breads, but in case you don’t, here is my challah recipe.  It makes three large loaves.  One for dinner, one to save for the casserole (the casserole is better if you use a loaf that is a at least a day old) and one to use for other things (usually one of the loaves gets eaten fresh out of the oven with lots of butter).

1 3/4 cup of lukewarm water

2 tablespoons yeast

1 1/2 tablespoons salt

4 large eggs, slightly beaten

1/2 cup honey

1 stick butter, melted

7 cups all-purpose flour (I like to use unbleached flour)

In a mixing bowl, mix yeast, water, honey, salt, eggs and butter.  Using the paddle attachment of your mixer, mix in flour, one cup at a time.  When you have added 5 cups of flour, change attachment to the dough hook.  Add the remaining flour.  If you are not using a stand mixer, you can do this with a wooden spoon, it’s just easier to use the mixer.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for about 2 hours.  You can use the dough after the two hours or you can refrigerate it up to 5 days.

To shape the loaves.  Sprinkle dough with a little flour and cut into three, equal portions.  For each portion, divide into three equal portions. On a lightly floured surface, roll each portion into a long rope.  Each rope should be the same length and width. Place on a parchment paper covered cookie sheet.  Braid the ropes, starting from the center and working to the ends.  Tuck the ends under the bottom.  Do the same with each of the other portions.  You will have three braided loaves.  Let loaves rest for about 40 minutes to rise.  If you have refrigerated the dough and are using cold dough, let the loaves rest about 1 hour and 20 minutes.  The cold dough takes longer to rise.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Beat one egg with 1 tablespoon water and using a pastry brush, brush each loaf with the egg wash before baking.  You can sprinkle each loaf with poppy seeds or any other topping you choose at this time.  Bake for about 30-35 minutes.  The loaves are done when they are golden brown and the center braids are resistant to pressure.  Allow to cool before slicing.


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