Why This Recipe Works
To make challah dough that was moist but malleable, we combined a short rest during kneading with a long fermentation; this built a sturdy but stretchy gluten network that made the dough easy to handle. We also employed an Asian dough-mixing technique called tangzhong, incorporating a cooked flour-water paste that bound up water in the dough so that it was moist but not sticky. Ample amounts of oil and eggs made the baked bread plush. Pointing the four dough strands in different directions, rather than lining them up parallel to one another, made them easier to keep track of during braiding. Brushing an egg wash—lightly salted to make the eggs more fluid—over the braided dough encouraged rich browning as the loaf baked.