In small bowl, combine water and dry dairy cream and mix until completely dissolved.
In separate glass 4qt to 6qt bowl, combine 3 cups flour, salt, sugar, and instant yeast. Whisk until well incorporated.
Add egg, egg yolks, canola oil, and vanilla to water mixture. Whisk until well incorporated.
Add wet mixture to dry mixture and mix until incorporated with bowl scraper or wooden spoon.
Add one cup flour and mix.
Add 1/2 cup flour onto top of mixture and 1/2 cup flour onto your work surface.
Dump mixture onto counter and knead the flour into the dough mixture.
Knead for 10 minutes adding a teaspoon of flour at a time to work surface until dough is soft but not sticking to hands. Resist temptation to add too much flour. The dough should be slightly sticky and soft when finished.
Place a saucepan of water on the stove to boil.
Meanwhile, remove dough from mixing bowl. Wash bowl and dry with the towel that you plan to use to cover the dough. Pour 1 tsp oil in bowl. Place dough in bowl and turn dough to coat with the oil.
Cover the bowl with the now damp towel. Place dough on the middle rack of oven. Place saucepan of boiling water below the rack where your dough sits. Let dough rise for 1 hour.
Remove dough from oven, gently punch it down, and place it back inside oven and let it rise for 1 hour longer.
After one additional hour, prepare egg wash by beating the egg whites, salt and water.
Take the risen dough out of the oven. Flour a smooth surface like a cutting board. Punch the dough down, turn out onto the floured surface. Knead for a few minutes, adding flour as needed to keep the dough from feeling sticky. Now your dough is ready to braid.
Divide your dough in half. Place one half in rising bowl and cover.
Divide second half into four equal pieces. Roll each piece into a strand approximately 14” long, tapered at each end. Place strands on work surface parallel to each other. Pinch the far end of all strands together.
Separate strands at the end closest to you for room to weave the braid. Take the right-most strand and weave it over, under, and over the adjacent three strands. Repeat process until braiding is finished. Pinch ends closest to you together and fold under the challah.
Place the braided on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Brush a thin layer of egg mixture onto the visible surface of your challah.
Repeat process for second half of dough.
Let the challot rise 45 minutes or so. The dough is ready to bake when you press your finger into the dough and the indentation remains rather than bouncing back.
Heat oven to 350°F. Bake the challot for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove each challah from oven and coat the center of the braid with a thin layer of egg wash.
Place the challot back into the oven and bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes.
Remove challot from oven and test for doneness by turning it over and tapping on the bottom of each loaf—if it makes a hollow sound, it’s done. Let challot cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes, then a wire cooling rack before serving.
• The 1-1/2 cups liquid may be water, soy milk, dairy milk, or the mixture that I recommend. Warm this liquid to approximately 125°F to activate the instant yeast nestled in the dry mixture.
• The vanilla is optional. Do not use imitation vanilla.
• Feel free to add 1/2 cup to 1 cup regular or golden raisins or similar dried fruit.
• Melted or room temp butter or margarine may be substituted for the oil, using the same quantity.
• You may add one additional egg yolk. I find that using the white of the egg dries out the bread. However, you could use three whole eggs, one egg plus two or three egg yolks.
• You may substitute 1/2 cup honey for the sugar.
• You can proof the instant yeast for this recipe: In measuring cup: 1/2 cup 110° water, dissolve 1 tsp sugar, dissolve 1 Tbsp yeast. Should double...Add to recipe, reduce milk liquid to 1 cup.