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5 from 2 votes

Luscious Challah Bread

Years of searching led us to this wonderfully tantalizing recipe, an adaptation of the Brizel's bakery recipe in Jerusalem.
Prep Time5 hrs
Cook Time35 mins
Servings: 2 Loaves

Equipment

  • Electric Stand Mixer

Ingredients

  • 7 tbsp dark rum (we use Myers's)
  • 3/4 cup dark raisins
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1 tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1 3/4 cup warm water (~105 degrees)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 5 large eggs, divided
  • 5 cups unbleached bread flour
  • 4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp salt

Instructions

  • The night before beginning the recipe, or at least 1-2 hours in advance, soak the dark and golden raisins in the rum. Cover with plastic wrap.
  • In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle, dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Add the sugar and oil and stir to combine. Beat in 4 of the eggs, one at a time, on med-low speed (I use level 2 on my KitchenAid).
  • In a separate bowl, combine all of the bread flour, 2 cups of the all-purpose flour, and the salt.
  • Add the flour mixture gradually to the yeast mixture, stirring to combine. When the mixture comes together to form a dough, stop the mixer and switch to a dough hook.
  • Turn the dough hook to knead on to the lowest setting, set a timer for 5 minutes and gradually add another 1.5 cups of all-purpose flour. You should be left with a smooth and elastic dough. If you would like to knead by hand - knead well for about 10 minutes.
  • Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and pat down a well in the center. Add the raisin and rum mixture, and another 1/4 cup of flour. Knead the mixture into the dough. IF the dough is too sticky, add the remaining 1/4 cup of flour as needed.
  • Place the dough into a large oiled bowl, and turn it around in the bowl a few times to grease the dough. Cover with plastic wrap, and place in a warm location for 1-2 hours, until the dough is almost doubled in size.
  • Remove the dough, and punch it down (the harder the better! take some aggression out). Return it to the bowl, cover again, and rest for another 30 minutes in a warm place.

Braiding a 6-braided Challah

  • Divide the dough into two - there will be two loaves.
  • Take one of the halves, and split it into 6 equal portions. Using your hands, roll each portion out on a lightly floured surface until it is about 14 inches long.
  • Take the 6 strands and join them together at one end. Group into two sets of three strands.
  • Take the outside right strand and bring it over the two in the right group, into the middle empty area.
  • Take the second strand from the left, and bring it over to the far right.
  • Now, take the outside left strand into the middle.
  • Take the second from the right strand over to the far left.
  • Repeat this alternating pattern until you are done braiding. When you have run out of length for braiding, join the strands and tuck the end under.
  • Repeat this process for the second loaf.

Rise and bake

  • Place the braided loaves on an aluminum-lined (trust me, line it) greased baking sheet, and rise, uncovered, in a warm area for 45 minutes.
  • At this point, you can stop and freeze one of both of the loaves if you'd like to bake it later. If you'd like to bake one or both now, continues as follows.
  • Beat the remaining egg, and brush the loaves. Continue to rise for another 15 minutes, while you preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  • 5 minutes before popping into the oven, brush again with your egg wash.
  • Add your loaves to the center rack of your oven. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, then lower temperature to 375 degrees. Bake for another 25-30 minutes, or until your crust is a deep golden brown.
  • Enjoy, and try not to eat it all the same day! Friendly tip - buy some delicious butter to go with, and if you like cafe con leche (essentially a Cuban coffee latte) - this pairs excellently.