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Raisin Challah (P, TNT)
Source: "A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking," by Marcy Goldman
Serves: Makes one large or two medium loaves

1-1/2 cups dark or yellow raisins, plumped
1-3/4 cups warm water
2 tablespoons dry yeast
1 pinch sugar
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup light honey
3-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup oil
3 eggs
2 egg yolks
6-7 cups bread flour, approximately

Egg Wash:
2 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons sugar
1 egg yolk

In a large mixing 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, and salt. Then add oil, eggs, yolks and about 5 cups of the flour. Stir into a shaggy mass. Let stand 10-20 minutes to absorb flour.

Knead, by hand or with a dough hook, adding remaining flour as required 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. (Note: if you find dough too bulky for your mixer, divide in two. Knead one portion at a time).

Let dough rest on a lightly floured board 10 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 in a draft free place until doubled and puffy looking, anywhere from 45-90 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.) Divide dough in two.

For 'faigele' or turban-shaped New Year's Challah, shape each section into a long rope (about 12-14" long) which is thicker at one end and coil it, starting with the thicker end first, tucking the end in on top to "lock." Or, you can divide each dough section into three ropes, around 14" long and make a traditional Challah braid.

Place on cornmeal dusted baking sheet. In a small bowl, whisk together egg glaze ingredients. Brush loaf with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Let rise until puffy, around 20-30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400°F. Bake bread 12 minutes then reduce heat to 350°F and bake another 25 minutes or until or until bread is evenly browned.

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

Poster's Notes:
This is a delicious bread. Marcy Goldman's recipes are great, they work and they taste wonderful.

Posted by Nancy Berry

Nutritional Info Per Serving: N/A