Do you fondly remember raisin bread as a child? I do, yet these days my husband and I tend to eat cinnamon raisin bagels more so than the bread. I couldn’t resist giving the raisin bread I remember some new life. This loaf is sweet and eggy with lots of cinnamon, a pinch of cardamom, plump raisins and a sprinkling of coarse sugar.
What is Challah?
In very basic terms, Challah is a braided yeast bread made with eggs. So by this definition, one can imagine the possibilities for variations.
Traditionally however, Challah is an egg-rich, braided bread eaten in the Jewish cuisine on ceremonial occasions. The term Challah is also a reference to the separation of a portion of the bread for an offering.
To me, it’s a darn tasty way to enjoy toast in the morning!
About this Challah
In this recipe, I opted to use brown sugar because I wanted that hint of molasses. I also added a small amount of cardamom because I think it is wonderful in baked goods. The raisins are pre-plumped, mostly because mine were looking a little dry. The top is dusted generously with coarse sugar for a little extra indulgence and crunch. This loaf was braided with only 3 strands, but by all means, use a 5 or 6 strand braid if you prefer.
Author: Compelled to Cook
- 1/2 cup water 95-110℉
- 1/3 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
- 2 tsp active dry yeast
- 3 large eggs, room temperature divided
- 2 large egg yolks, room temperature
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup dark seedless raisins
- 2 1/4-2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp cardamom
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp cream
- as needed coarse sugar for garnish
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook stir together water, brown sugar and yeast. Allow to proof for 7-8 minutes.
- Stir in 2 whole eggs, egg yolks, oil, and raisins. To this mixture add 2 cups of flour, cinnamon, cardamom and salt. Begin kneading, allowing all the flour to be absorbed. Add remaining flour gradually until dough begins to pull away from the sides and is smooth about 7-8 minutes. The dough will be a little sticky but you should be able to handle it without additional flour.
- Lightly oil a large bowl and turn out dough into bowl flipping to coat sides. Cover loosely with a clean kitchen towel and allow to rise in a draft-free area for 90 minutes. (It will not appear to be double in size)
- Remove dough and knead a few times to punch out the air. Divide dough into 3 equal portions of approximately 300g each. Allow dough to rest for about 5 minutes. This helps relax the dough and will make it easier to roll into logs.
- Line a large baking tray with parchment.
- Roll each third into a 14" long log. Lay the 3 logs parallel to each other on the baking tray. Braid dough tightly, pinching the ends together and tucking under slightly.
- Cover loaf with a clean kitchen towel and allow to rise in a draft free area for 45 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350℉. In a small bowl whisk together 1 large egg and cream. Brush generously on the loaf and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake for approximately 32 minutes until golden and an internal temperature of 195℉ is reached.
- Remove from oven to a cooling rack and allow to cool prior to slicing.
For extra plump raisins, soak them in hot water for 10-15 minutes and drain well prior to adding to dough.
This bread is wonderful toasted with a little apricot jam.
It toasts quickly because of the sugar content.