Mom's Challah

Some of the best holiday memories come from recipes passed down through the generations. Jenn Louis's Mom's Challah, a braided yeasted bread rich in Jewish tradition, is just that. But don't let holidays like Hanukkah limit you. Challah is good to have around all the time, whether to make French toast or to eat slathered with butter.
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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 3 hr 30 min
  • Active: 30 min
  • Yield: 8 servings
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Ingredients

2 teaspoons active dry yeast

1/3 cup water

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup orange juice

2 teaspoons kosher salt

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more, softened, for the bowl

3 large eggs, divided

1/4 cup golden raisins

3 cups bread flour

Directions

  1. Dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk yeast and water to fully dissolve yeast. Add sugar, orange juice, salt, melted butter, and 2 eggs, and whisk to combine. Then add raisins and flour. Attach a dough hook and mix on low speed just until the dough comes together and is not sticky. Mix an additional 2 minutes, the last 15 seconds on medium speed.
  2. Turn dough onto a work surface and knead a few times to bring it together, then place in a large buttered bowl. Place plastic wrap over dough, making sure to lightly tuck the plastic around the sides of the dough. Allow dough to rise until doubled in size, about 60–90 minutes.
  3. The dough is ready when you can press your finger into the dough and it holds the indentation. Gently move the dough onto your work surface in one piece. Cut the dough into thirds and, without deflating the dough too much, roll each piece into a strand about 10 inches long. Lay the strands out parallel to each other, and pinch them together at one end. Pull the rightmost strand over the center one, then the left over the new center, alternating until you have a tightly finished braid and can pinch the end together. At this point, you can wrap the braid around itself to form a "turban" and seal the ends together. If it doesn't look right, just unbraid and try again! Place challah on a parchment-lined baking tray and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  4. Whisk the remaining egg with 2 tablespoons water in a bowl. Glaze the top and sides of the challah with this egg wash, then bake 35–45 minutes.
  5. To test if the challah is fully cooked, tap on its bottom—it should sound hollow. Let cool 30 minutes. Serve. (And remember, if you're eating it fresh, tear it apart with your hands!)
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