makes 1 large loaf

recipe adapted from The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart

4 cups (18 ounces) unbleached bread flour

2 tbsp (1 ounce) granulated sugar

1 tsp (.25 ounce) salt

1 1/3 tsp (.15 ounce) instant yeast

2 tbsp (1 ounce) vegetable oil

2 large eggs

2 large egg yolks + 2 egg whites

3/4 cup + 2 tbsp water, room temp

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast. Add the paddle attachment and combine on low speed.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the vegetable oil, 2 large eggs, 2 yolks (saving 2 egg whites in a separate bowl), and 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp room temperature water. Add the egg mixture to the flour and combine with the paddle attachment on low speed until the ingredients come together and start to stick on the paddle.

Attach the dough hook, and knead on med-low for 6 minutes until you get a soft, supple dough. You may need to sprinkle in some flour if the dough is too sticky to touch.

Flour a work surface. Remove the dough from the bowl and shape into a boule. Place into a large greased bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Place in a warm draft free area and let rise for 1 hour.

Remove the dough from the bowl and then knead for 1 minute to degas. Shape into a ball and place into the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for another hour, until the dough is 1 1/2 times its original size.

Remove the dough from the bowl, and divide into 3 equally sized pieces (use a scale for precise accuracy). Cover with a damp cloth and let rest for 10 minutes.

Roll each piece of dough into 3 long stands, each the same length (approximately 15 inches),slightly larger in the middle. Lay the three pieces in front of you vertically, and perpendicular. Braid the three pieces similar to how you would braid hair. Diagram. Pinch the ends together, and place the challah onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Beat the egg whites until foamy. Brush the challah with the egg whites, and then cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 60 - 75 minutes, or until it is 1 1/2 times its original size. Cover the egg whites and place into the fridge.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Brush the challah with the egg whites for a second time. Place the bread into the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Rotate the pan 180 degrees and continue baking for 20 minutes, or until the challah has reached a rich golden brown color and registers 190ºF in the center.

Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for 1 hour before slicing.