Adapted from Betty Crocker's Bread Machine Cookbook
3/4 C water
1 T margarine
1 T honey
3 1/4 C bread flour
2 T sugar
1 1/2 t salt
1 1/2 t bread machine yeast
1 egg yolk
1 T cold water
1 T poppy seeds (or to taste)
1. Place all bread ingredients, in this order, in bread machine pan (wet ingredients first, then dry).
2. Select dough/manual cycle
3. Lightly flour large surface. When dough is ready, place on surface and divide in four equal pieces. Roll and/or squeeze each piece until it's about 1.5 feet long. Place them side by side on floured surface and pinch together top end. Braid according to drawing (Figure 1) -- not too tight, but not too loose either (this takes practice). Pinch bottom ends to seal, and tuck under braid.
Grease large cookie sheet and sprinkle it with corn flour until lightly coated; transfer braided dough on sheet. Place in unheated oven for about 1 hour, until braid has doubled in size.
4. Remove sheet from oven and heat oven to 375OF. While oven is heating, mix egg yolk and cold water. Brush over braid slowly, allowing entire mixture to absorb. Sprinkle with poppy seed. Bake about 25 minutes* until golden brown.
Makes 12 servings of approx. 175 calories each (30 calories from fat)
* Note: if you know your oven runs hot, be sure to bake at a “lower temp” but for the full time; I once baked at 375 for 20 minutes, once I realized that my oven's "375" was really about 400. The challah wasn't properly cooked, but it was too crispy on the outside.