1 package active dry yeast
¼ cup plus a pinch of sugar
1 ¼ cups warm water (110° to 115°F)
2 teaspoons salt
¼ pound unsalted margarine, melted
4 ½ to 5 cups flour
Poppy Seed-Onion Filling:
1 ½ cups finely chopped onion
½ cup poppy seeds
½ teaspoon salt
5 ½ tablespoons unsalted margarine, melted
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Set aside.
Dissolve the yeast with a pinch of sugar in ½ cup of the warm water.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, blend 1 of the eggs, the ¼ cup sugar, salt and margarine and remaining ¾ cup water. Blend in the yeast mixture. Add the flour, 1 cup at a time, mixing until the dough comes together. Pour onto a floured board and knead, adding additional flour, a little at a time, until the dough has a smooth and elastic consistency, 5 to 10 minutes.
Place the dough in an oiled bowl, oil the top of the dough, cover with a towel, let it rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
Punch down the dough. Divide it in half. Roll each half out to a 20 x 4 inch rectangle. Spread each rectangle with the filling (reserving ¼ cup for the top) to within ½ inch of the edges. Roll each rectangle lengthwise, jelly-roll fashion, to enclose the filling, forming a long rope. Twist the two ropes together. Form dough into a ring. Pinch ends to seal and place on an oiled baking sheet. Cover and let rise in warm place until doubled, about 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Lightly beat the remaining egg and brush it over the challah. Sprinkle the challah with the reserved filling. Bake for 40 minutes, or until the loaf is golden and sounds a hollow when tapped. Transfer to rack to cool.
By Emuna Braverman and Elizabeth Kurtz, of www.gourmetkoshercooking.com
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