Golden Raisin Challah Rounds
Updated: Mar 27
This Rosh Hashanah classic is easy to form and even easier to devour!
I love serving these golden (and golden raisin-studded!) doughy crowns at my holiday table. They are a special treat made and consumed only during this time of year--symbolic in part as a reflection of the continuing cycle of the years and seasons--whereas the rest of the year we have a plain braid. But anyone can enjoy this recipe, especially since it makes the best French Toast! I won’t even mention how insanely good it is toasted with chicken salad. Oops. If you want to make a classic challah braid, try my Traditional Challah recipe.
Equipment: measuring spoons, wet and dry measuring cups, two large mixing bowls, dough hook, standing mixer with dough hook attachment (optional), bench scraper, plastic wrap, baking sheet, parchment paper or nonstick baking mat, cooling rack
Ingredients: 1 cup warm water (at least 95°F - 110°F) 1 package yeast (or 2¼ teaspoons) 1 teaspoon granulated sugar 1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil 1/3 cup sugar (or ½ cup for sweeter bread) 1 tablespoon kosher salt 3 large eggs 4 – 4½ cups bread flour (or all-purpose) * ½ cup golden raisins 1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon cold water
"Bread flour has more gluten (wheat protein) than does all-purpose flour. The more gluten the stronger the bread structure, which also helps the dough to rise."
1. In a small bowl or measuring cup, sprinkle yeast and sugar on warm water. Stir. Let stand for up to 10 minutes (it should look like the foam on beer).
2. In a large bowl, combine oil, sugar, salt, eggs, and then the yeast mixture. Stir in 2 cups of flour.
3. Gradually stir in most of the remaining flour.* Dough will be sticky.
*ILOC tip: The amount of flour used will vary, depending upon the moisture in the air.
4. Place dough on lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes (or use a standing mixer with the dough hook on a low speed), adding a little flour at a time as needed. If dough sticks to the counter, use a bench scraper to clean the surface and lightly flour the board to prevent further sticking. When done kneading, the dough will feel silky and smooth.
5. Put dough into a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1½ hours in a warm, draft-free environment until approximately doubled (the bowl placed inside your oven with the light on is a good spot).
6. Punch down the dough with your floured fist. Divide it in half evenly if making 2 loaves and set one half aside. Place ¼ cup raisins on one piece of dough. Roll into a very long strand (about two feet long), tapering the ends as you roll.
7. Make a "snail" shaped by rolling the dough onto itself, tucking the end under the round. Repeat for second challah if making 2 loaves.
8. Place dough on parchment paper or nonstick baking mat. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Cover the dough with plastic wrap or a clean dish towel as it goes through the final rise for 1 hour.
"If you are pressed for time, you can skip the second rise and still get great results!"
9. Right before baking, brush the bread with beaten egg wash (egg and water).
10. Bake for 17 minutes and remove the pan from the oven (shut the oven door so the heat does not escape). Brush with additional egg wash and rotate the pan when returning it to the oven. Bake for another 17 minutes. The bread should take approximately 30+ minutes in total, until golden brown and challah sounds hollow when bottom is tapped. (Internal temperature approximately 190°F - 195°F) Temperature will vary depending on the size of the bread. If only one large loaf is made, bake approximately 40-45 minutes, about 20 minutes before the first egg wash.
11. Allow the bread to rest and cool for one hour before serving.
You can make the dough the night before, and place in the refrigerator to rise. Remove it 30 minutes before shaping. Then proceed as written above.