In a mixing bowl or measuring cup, combine warm milk (110 F), yeast, honey, butter or oil, and eggs. Stir and set aside to foam for 3 mins.Pro tip - Instant yeast does not need to be activated. But I like to ensure my yeast is good and working for me. You may choose to add all ingredients directly to the flour.
Measure the flour and salt in a mixing bowl or stand mixer with the dough hook. Add the yeast mixture and combine well.Pro tip - If you do not like kneading, I highly recommend using a stand mixer with the hook attachment.
Knead - By hand - transfer to a well-dusted worktop and knead for 5 to 6 minutes - Stand mixer - once all the flour is well incorporated, knead on medium for 4 to 5 minutes
When the dough is soft, shiny, but still slightly sticky shape into a ball. Place the dough in an oiled bowl seam side down. Coat the surface with oil to prevent drying. Cover with a clean kitchen cloth or plastic wrap.
Leave in a warm place. Let rise for 60 to 90 minutes until double in volume. Pro tip - In winter, you may need 90 minutes or more. But in summer, the dough may double in 45 minutes. If you can't attend to it at that moment, de-gas, reshape, and let double in volume again.
Stuff the bread
When the dough is double in volume, transfer to a well-dusted floured surface. De-gas, reshape into a ball. Then roll into a small log. Pro tip - At this point, there is no need for additional flour. So use a light dusting of flour.
You can make two small loaves using 7 x 4 x 4-inch pans or one large loaf 13 x 4 x 4-inch loaf pan with this dough. For two small loaves, divide the dough into 2.
Roll the dough into a rectangle shape. Spread the slices of ham and cheese. Roll dough like a jelly roll tucking the sides well. Pro tip - You can add more or less ham and cheese than mentioned in the recipe.
Fold the roll into two for a loaf pan or three if using a flat pyrex pan like me. (as shown in the progress pictures here). Place in a 7 x 4-inch loaf pan or similar baking tray. (I'm using a 4 x 6-inch Pyrex dish)Pro tip - The measurements given here are just guidlines. As long as the dough is about half the pan leaving enough space for the dough to double you can use any baking pan you have.
Cover with a plastic wrap or clean kitchen cloth and let proof for 30 to 45 minutes.Pro tip - Spray the plastic wrap with oil to prevent it from sticking to the rolls.
A 20 minutes before baking, preheat the oven at 380°F /190°C / Gas Mark 5
Brush the bread with a beaten egg. Sprinkle some sesame seeds. Pro tip - Egg wash is a full egg with 2 tablespoon of water. An egg wash will give a nice golden color. If you can't use egg, milk or cream will work just as well. Do not use oil or butter as it will create a crust.
If you make two loaves with this dough, bake each for 25 to 30 minutes until you have a nice golden brown. If you make one large loaf, bake for about 50 to 55 minutes until you have a nice golden brown color. Pro tip - When baked, the internal temperature of the bread should be about 195 F. The bread will have a hollow sound on the bottom when tapped.
Remove and let cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Then, cover with a clean kitchen cloth to keep it soft.Pro tip - Do not leave the loaf on the tray for too long as the steam will make the bread soggy on the bottom. Covering the bread with a cloth will help the bread retain moisture and prevent it from drying out.
Measure all ingredients ahead of time so you don't forget anything at the last minute.
For accuracy use a weight measure for the ingredients because every cup of flour can weigh differently depending on how you fill it.
The milk must be warm (not hot) about 110F. If the milk is too hot it will kill the yeast, similarly, if the milk is too cold it will not activate the yeast.
Though instant dry yeast has a long shelf life, it can get ruined. Always check the expiry of the yeast. If unsure, combine the yeast with water/milk, sugar/honey, and oil/butter from the recipe and let stand 5 minutes. If it gets foamy the yeast is good to go if not best to buy fresh yeast or check the temperature of the milk
Keep salt away from yeast as it can kill the yeast. I like to combine it with the flour then add it to the yeast mixture.
A soft loose well-hydrated dough is not necessarily a bad thing, it often will give you soft fuffy bread so don't be tempted to add more flour than mentioned in the recipe.
Kneading is key to making good bread. While kneading by hand can be therapeutic using a stand mixer is easier and quicker
Leave the dough at room temperature to rise until double in volume. While not recommended when in haste you can place it in a warm (not hot) oven this will expedite the rise.
Bread does not have to be time-consuming. You can leave the dough in the fridge to rise for a few hours (even overnight) while you go about your chores. A slow rise will give more flavor to the bread.
Always preheat the oven for at least 10 minutes before you place bread in or the low temperature will spread the dough too much.
Storing - These loaves do freeze beautifully. Cool the baked loaves then place them in a freezer-safe storage bag. These can be frozen for up to a month. I like to slice my challah so my kids use a few slices at a time.
Kneading the dough - If possible use an electric mixer because the dough is soft and sticky.
Bread machine - this dough can be easily made in a bread machine. Pour all ingredients in the pan set to dough or manual. Start and let the dough run its cycle for about 9 to 10 minutes - continue with the recipe as shown above.
The nutrition information and metric conversion are calculated automatically. I cannot guarantee its accuracy. If this data is important to you please verify with your trusted nutrition calculator. Thank you