Hanukkah's right around the corner, and this sweet, traditional bread—usually made with eggs—is just the thing to impress your guests. Whether or not you celebrate Hanukkah, this loaf is loaded with wow factor. Don't be dissuaded by the lengthy instructions, the end result is totally worth the effort!
Makes 2 loaves
What You Need:
1-1/2 cups puréed yams
1 cup hot water
1 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons brown rice syrup, divided
2 tablespoons baking yeast
6 to 7 cups flour
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/4 cup water, room temperature
1/4 cup poppy seeds
What You Do:
1. In a large mixing bowl, mix puréed yams, water, salt, and 4 tablespoons brown rice syrup. Add yeast, stir, and let sit for 10 minutes. Stir in flour, one cup at a time, until dough comes together into one lump.
2. Spread 1/2 cup flour over work surface, and place dough onto the floured surface. Continue kneading, sprinkling only enough flour on the board to prevent sticking. After about 10 minutes, the dough should be smooth, bouncy, and elastic.
3. Oil the mixing bowl with canola oil. Knead dough again for 2 to 3 minutes. Place dough in oiled bowl and turn dough so the top is oiled. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and keep warm until dough doubles in size, 1 to 2 hours.
4. Lightly grease two cookie sheets with non-hydrogenated margarine. Flour work surface again, and divide the dough in half, then divide each half into 3 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope 1-inch thick and 15 inches long. Place the three ropes side by side on your work surface and pinch the three ropes together at one end. Starting from this pinched end, braid the three ropes together. When the braiding is complete, seal the braid by pinching the ends together. Place the braided challah in the center of one of the greased cookie sheets. Repeat with remaining dough.
5. Set cookie sheets in a warm spot, cover braided loaves with a damp cloth, and allow to rise for 30 to 40 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, mix remaining brown rice syrup with 1/4 cup water to make a glaze. Glaze challah, and sprinkle with poppy seeds. Bake 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from cookie sheets at once and set loaves on racks to cool.
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