Challah*

Growing up all I wanted was for someone to braid my hair. French braids. One on each side. The closest I ever got was a single braid down the center of my back…starting at the bottom of my neck. So I decided to teach myself how to french braid and would beg my baby sister to let me practice…and eventually I got perfect. Seriously, come over one night and we can have a slumber party with margaritas and I will give you two of the best looking french braids ever. Sadly I soon discovered that braiding someone elses hair and braiding your own hair are two completely different things. I still have yet to get the hang of it…but thankfully these day’s it’s no longer cool to wear french braids on Fridays with your uniform.

I thought that I had the one up on this Cinnamon Raisin Challah bread since I am such an excellent braider. But as you can obviously see, I am not an experienced bread braider. It’s not bad…but it’s not great either. But you know what? It was absolutely delicious! So who cares if I could braid the bread perfectly or not? This Challah made a delicious breakfast bread when you slightly toasted it and smeared it with a little bit of butter. And when I make it again, and I will make it again, I plan on trying it out as french toast or in a bread pudding. No matter how you plan on eating it, you must make this Challah!

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Cinnamon Raisin Challah

Yield: 2 loaves

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups dark raisins, plumped (soaked in water)
1 3/4 cups warm water
2 tablespoons yeast
pinch sugar approx, 1/4 teaspoon
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup honey
3 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 cup canola oil
3 eggs
2 additional egg yolks
6-7 cups flour

Egg wash:
2 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons sugar
1 egg
1 additional egg yolk

Directions:

In a large bowl stir together the yeast, water, and pinch of sugar. Let stand five minutes to allow yeast to swell and dissolve.

Briskly stir in remaining sugar, honey, cinnamon and salt. Then add oil, eggs, yolks and about five cups of the flour. Stir and let stand 10-20 minutes to absorb flour. Knead, by hand or with a dough hook, adding remaining flour as needed to make a soft and elastic dough (about 10-12 minutes). Dough should leave sides of the bowl. If it is sticky, add small amounts of flour until dough is soft but no longer sticks.

Let dough rest on a lightly floured board ten minutes, then flatten and press in raisins as evenly as possible into the dough, folding dough over raisins to "tuck" them in. Place dough in a greased bowl and either cover with greased plastic wrap and a damp tea towel or cover with a damp tea towel and place entire bowl inside a large plastic bag. Let rise until doubled and puffy looking, anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes.

(If you are doing an overnight, cool rise, place dough in a large, lightly greased bowl and insert this in a large plastic bag. Refrigerate overnight. If you see the bread rising too quickly, open the bag, deflate dough, and reseal. Next day, allow dough to warm up then gently deflate and proceed.)

To make a 6-braid challah, either straight or circular, take half the dough and form it into 6 balls. With your hands, roll each ball into a strand about 12 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide. Place the 6 in a row, parallel to one another. Pinch the tops of the strands together. Move the outside right strand over 2 strands. Then take the second strand from the left and move it to the far right. Take the outside left strand and move it over 2. Move second strand from the right over to the far left. Start over with the outside right strand. Continue this until all strands are braided. For a straight loaf, tuck ends underneath. For a circular loaf, twist into a circle, pinching ends together. Make a second loaf the same way. Place braided loaves on a greased cookie sheet with at least 2 inches in between.

Place on cornmeal dusted baking sheet. In a small bowl, whisk together egg glaze ingredients. Brush loaf with egg wash. Let rise until puffy, around 20-30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Bake bread 12 minutes then reduce heat to 350 Degrees F and bake another 25 minutes or until bread is evenly browned.

Can be frozen baked or unbaked. If freezing unbaked, let bread rise slowly, overnight in the fridge. Bring to room temperature before baking.

Adapted from JewishRecipes.org

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20 Responses to “Challah”

  1. 1

    Apron Appeal — June 8, 2011 @ 4:32 am

    I taught myself to braid too. In the beginning that meant I had one braid that usually started somewhere near the center of my forehead and then swerved around the back of my head and ended on the side…not on purpose. Since I couldn’t braid a straight line I decided to learn how to braid question marks and “S’s) I don’t have the patience for it anymore – but challah…I’ve been wanting to try one for a while – everyone makes it look so easy…I’m sure mine will end up looking all swervey like a snake.

  2. 2

    Maris (In Good Taste) — June 8, 2011 @ 5:15 am

    I was never able to french braid my hair as hard as I tried. I can smell this challah now. Nothing like the smell of fresh bread! Looks beautiful!

  3. 3

    Blog is the New Black — June 8, 2011 @ 5:55 am

    I think it still looks great… not to mention DELICIOUS!

  4. 4

    Jen @ BeantownBaker.com — June 8, 2011 @ 7:26 am

    I recently made challah for the first time. Left out the raisins, but I definitely want to make it again with raisins!

    I had the opposite issue with braiding growing up. My mom taught me how to do it at a young age, so most mornings I had to french braid her hair and my sister’s hair. My mom would do mine while I was doing my sisters. Made me hate the french braid!

  5. 5

    Kim @ Feed Me, Seymour — June 8, 2011 @ 8:14 am

    That looks absolutely beautiful! And tasty too, of course. You really are an artiste!

  6. 6

    Nelly Rodriguez — June 8, 2011 @ 8:43 am

    I remember learning how to braid a 6 strand challah and our mantra was “inside, outside, outside middle…” You’ve made me want to braid challah this week now!

  7. 7

    Lauren @ Pineapple Pizza — June 8, 2011 @ 8:53 am

    I taught myself how to French Braid from a how-to guide in Jump! magazine. I knew how to braid my own hair before I could do any one else’s. Weird, I know.

    But, it helped when I learned how to make Challah because now I can make a Challah with 5+ braids!

  8. 8

    Paula — June 8, 2011 @ 9:27 am

    Your Challah looks beautiful!
    I love French braided hair, I used to do may daughter’s and now I do my grand-daughter’s. I love the look of it, so neat and pretty and I don’t care if it’s not in style any longer. I haven’t yet mastered how to do a reverse French braid though :)

  9. 9

    Erin — June 8, 2011 @ 9:41 am

    I can barely give myself a regular braid, I can’t even attempt a french braid on myself! Maybe I could do it on someone else. The drawbacks of being the youngest child, with an older brother I suppose. Love the bread!

  10. 10

    Joanne — June 8, 2011 @ 12:53 pm

    I never learned to french braid either but one of my cousins could do it, so whenever I went over her house, that was our number one priority. French braids first, everything else second.

    Challah I can handle. Especially cinnamon raisin!

  11. 11

    Katrina — June 8, 2011 @ 1:07 pm

    This sounds so lovely. Challah rocks my world, and adding cinnamon and raisins just ups it that much more!

  12. 12

    Paula at Dishing The Divine — June 8, 2011 @ 1:30 pm

    that french braid is the only way I survived missions trips in Mexico sans showers. If my hair was braided, I had no idea how dirty it was. :) And this bread looks *great*. I need to try a challah recipe so that I can try strawberry stuffed french toast. :)

  13. 13

    Jenny Flake — June 8, 2011 @ 1:58 pm

    Mmmmm, I wanna piece of that braid! Gorgeous girl!!

  14. 14

    Kim — June 8, 2011 @ 2:31 pm

    YUM!!!!

  15. 15

    Melissa @ Melissa Bakes — June 8, 2011 @ 2:33 pm

    How funny, I always wanted someone to braid my hair too! I knew how to braid beautifully but no one knew how to braid my hair. This bread looks awesome, though!

  16. 16

    Sara — June 8, 2011 @ 3:05 pm

    I have curly hair and no one ever braided my hair because it wasn’t long enough. Just a tad past the shoulders was all I could ever get–and that’s still the case. Due to the curls even a french braid doesn’t really show up well :( I love the look though.

    And that bread looks amazing. I’ve never had challah and anything with cinnamon and raisins is top on my list!

  17. 17

    Ruth — June 8, 2011 @ 4:07 pm

    This looks delicious! I absolutely love challah and am forever tweaking and trying new recipes. This will probably be the next one I try. Don’t worry about the braiding, you’ll get better as you go!

  18. 18

    emiglia — June 10, 2011 @ 11:56 am

    I’ll braid your hair if you braid mine! I can do it on others, but not on myself… just normal pigtail braids, and I feel silly wearing them alone :(

    Pretty looking challah!

  19. 19

    Anon — June 13, 2011 @ 10:43 am

    As someone who has been braiding challah for longer than I can remember, that’s one pretty amazing looking braid. Particularly for a novice. Let’s not even talk about what they looked like when I was making them in pre-school and elementary school. And they still get funny looking when I try to get too many of them baked at the same time (minimal oven space, HUGE batch of dough!).
    Re french braids…I still do a single french braid sometimes, particularly when I need to do something with my hair in the humidity. It may not be in style anymore, but starting higher on my head means that there is less hair “open” to get frizzy. I actually learned on myself from watching my friend’s mother since my very talented mother wasn’t so good in the braiding our hair department. An easy trick…use two mirrors so that you can watch as you do it. It helps to keep the braid straight. And don’t worry about getting it too tight, it’s more forgiving that way.

  20. 20

    Sari — November 7, 2013 @ 12:42 am

    Hi Jessica! I love this recipe and tried it out myself. I linked to your blog post and recipe in my own blog here: http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/dough-as-i-say-and-also-as-i-dough/

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