Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Challah
- 1 3/4 cups lukewarm water
- 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast (2 packets)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons salt
- 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted (or neutral-tasting vegetable oil such as canola), plus more for greasing the cookie sheet
- 7 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup raisins
- Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water)
- 1-2 tablespoons raw sugar
1. Mixing and storing the dough: Mix the yeast, salt, eggs, honey, and melted butter (or oil) with the water in a 5-quart bowl, or a lidded (no airtight) food container.
2. Mix in the flour without kneading, using a spoon, a 14-cup capacity food processor (with dough attachment), or a heavy duty stand mixer (with dough hook). If you’re not using a machine, you may need to use wet hands to incorporate the last bit of flour.
3. Cover (not airtight), and allow to rest at room temperature until the dough rises and collapses (or flattens on top), approximately 2 hours.
4. The dough can be used immediately after the initial rise, though it is easier to handle when cold. Refrigerate in a lidded (not airtight) container and use over the next 5 days. Beyond 5 days, freeze in 1-pound portions in an airtight container for up to 4 weeks. Defrost frozen dough overnight in the refrigerator before using. Then allow the usual rest and rise time.
5. On baking day, whisk the brown sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl and set aside. Butter a loaf pan and set aside.
6. Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 1-pound (grapefruit-sized) piece. Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go.
7. On a lightly floured surface, form the dough into a loaf shape. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a 1/4 inch thick rectangle (as close as possible). Use just enough flour to prevent it from sticking. If the dough resists shaping, let it rest for 5 minutes and try again. Sprinkle the brown sugar-cinnamon mixture evenly all over the top of the rectangle, leaving a 1-inch border all around. Top with the raisins. Roll up the dough, jellyroll-style, starting at one of the short ends, being sure to seal the bare edges. Chill the roll in the freezer for about 10-15 minutes.
8. Allow the bread to rest and rise, covered, in the loaf pan for 1 hour and 20 minutes (or just 40 minutes if you’re using fresh, unrefrigerated dough).
9. About 10-15 minutes before baking time, preheat the oven to 350-degrees F. Brush the loaf with egg wash and sprinkle with the raw sugar.
10. Bake near the center of the oven for about 25 minutes. Smaller or larger loaves will require adjustments in baking time. The challah is done when golden brown and offers resistance to pressure. Due to the fat in the dough, challah will not form a hard, crackling crust.
11. Remove the loaf from the pan and allow to cool on a wire rack.