In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the cream cheese and beat until smooth. Add the jam and a pinch of salt and continue to beat until thoroughly combined. Using a paring knife, make a slit in each bread slice about 2 to 3 inches long and deep; this pocket will hold the filling. Using an offset spatula, divide and stuff the filling equally into the pockets, making sure it’s not a big lump. Set aside.
In a shallow dish, add the eggs, milk, vanilla extract and almond extract. Mix with a fork until combined. Dip the challah into the mixture, turning to coat both sides. Let sit and soak while you heat your butter.
In a large nonstick skillet, add the butter and heat over medium heat until it begins to foam. Add the challah, allowing any excess egg mixture to drip off, and cook until golden brown and cooked through, flipping once, about 3 to 4 minutes per side.
Place the French toast on a serving dish. Serve with a drizzle of sweetened condensed milk and garnished with strawberries.
Orange Juice Challah:
In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, sugar, yeast, orange zest and salt and whisk together. In a medium bowl, whisk together the water, orange juice, oil and 2 of the eggs.
Add the wet to the flour mixture; stir to combine. Knead, either by hand on a floured surface or with a dough hook on medium speed for 7 to 10 minutes, adding more flour as necessary (but resist any urge to add too much!), until you have a smooth and slightly sticky dough.
Transfer the dough to a large oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature until doubled in size, about 2 hours. (Alternatively, chill the dough in the refrigerator overnight, then let stand at room temperature for 1 hour before shaping.)
Divide the dough into 4 pieces. Divide each into 3 logs and braid. Place on 2 baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing them evenly apart. Cover loosely and let rise 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining egg and 1 tablespoon water. Brush the loaves with egg wash and sprinkle with poppy seeds. Bake until they are golden and have an internal temperature of 190 degrees F; begin checking for doneness at 18 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly and enjoy. (Challah is best eaten within 24 hours. After that it’s ok if you toast it or use it for French toast. It also freezes well!)
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