In a small bowl, stir together the 1 1/2 cups warm water, yeast and 1 teaspoon granulated sugar. Let stand for about 5 minutes, until slightly foamy. Meanwhile, in a large bowl or the bowl of stand mixer, mix together the flour, kosher salt and 1/4 cup sugar. In a medium bowl, whisk together the 4 eggs, oil and additional sweetener.Advertisement
Add yeast mixture and egg mixture to the flour mixture; stir to combine. Knead, either by hand on a floured surface or with a dough hook on medium speed for 7 to 10 minutes, adding more flour as necessary (but resist any urge to add too much!), until you have a smooth and slightly sticky dough.
Transfer dough to an extra-large oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature until doubled in size, about 2 hours. (Alternatively, chill dough in the refrigerator overnight, then let stand at room temperature for 1 hour before shaping.)
Divide dough into four portions. Roll each portion into a rope about 3 feet long. Roll ropes into spirals. Place loaves at least 3 inches apart on two large baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Cover loosely; let rise at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375°. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and 1 tablespoon water. Brush the loaves with a thin, even layer of the egg wash; sprinkle with sea salt. Bake about 30 minutes or until loaves are golden brown and have an internal temperature of 190°. Slide paper onto wire racks and let loaves cool at least 30 minutes before slicing.
To make only two loaves, halve all ingredients and shape the dough into two loaves instead of four.
Whole Wheat Challah
Substitute up to 2-1/2 cups whole-wheat flour for an equal amount of all-purpose flour. (This dough may take slightly longer to rise.) Nutrition analysis per serving: same as above except 207 calories, 30 g carbohydrate, 8 g total fat, 2 g fiber, 5 g total sugar, 9% iron