2 packets or 1 1/2 Tbs. dry active yeast
1 cup lukewarm water
2 tsp. + ¼ cup sugar
6 tsp. Ener-G egg replacer + 8 Tbs. water
¼ cup olive oil + more for brushing
1 ½ tsp. Kosher salt
¼ tsp. turmeric
4 cups flour (all-purpose, whole wheat pastry, or a combination of both) + more for dusting
Poppy seeds or sesame seeds (optional)
Transfer the frothy yeast mixture into a large mixing bowl. Add the olive oil to the yeast and mix. Add the egg replacer to the large bowl and mix. Mix in the remaining ¼ cup sugar, salt and turmeric. Whisk until it’s all combined.
Gradually add the flour until the dough begins to come together. It should be soft but not sticky. When you have the texture you want, turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead it for 10 long minutes. It will feel like forever so put on some music to sing along to or have some company to talk with to make the time go by faster. If the dough still feels sticky, add more flour. If it feels too dry, add water. When you are done kneading, put the ball of dough into a greased bowl, roll it around so it gets covered in oil, cover it with a damp cloth and put it in a warm place to rise. Let it rise until it doubles in size, about 1 ½ – 2 hours. When it has doubled in size, punch the dough down, cover it again and let it rise another 30 – 45 minutes until it has risen again. Don’t worry as much about the time but whether the dough has risen. If it takes longer, that doesn’t mean anything is wrong. If it doesn’t rise at al, that’s a problem.
Place the dough on a floured surface. If you are making a double batch, divide the dough into 2 equal parts and continue with the rest of the steps. Cut the dough (or each half) into 3 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball, and then roll each ball into a long strand. Let the strands rest for 5 minutes. Transfer the strands to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Join the 3 strands at the top by pinching them together and turning them under. Braid the strands (cross the outer right strand over to the middle position, cross the outer left strand over to the middle position and repeat until you reach the end) and join the ends at the bottom, pinching them together and turning them under. Brush the dough with olive oil. Cover the dough again and let it rise for another hour.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Brush the dough with olive oil again, sprinkle with poppy or sesame seeds, if desired, and bake for 35 minutes. The challah should be golden brown with a firm crust. It should sound hollow when you tap it. Let cool before slicing.
The “V” Word: Say it. Eat it. Live it.