|2 sachet||dried yeast|
|175 ml||warm water, 40-45°C/100-110°F|
|5 medium||egg yolks, beaten|
|3 medium||eggs, beaten|
|100 ml||corn or sunflower oil|
|550 g||plain flour|
|150 g||seedless raisins, optional|
|1||egg yolk, beaten as glaze|
|poppy seeds or ‘hundreds and thousands’ or sugar sprinkles to decorate|
InstructionsTo make the dough:
Mix the yeast with the water and stir with about a tablespoon of the sugar. Set aside until the surface is foamy, 5-10 minutes.
Place the eggs and yolks into a large bowl and mix with the oil, salt and remaining sugar. Add the yeast mixture. Add at least half the flour and mix into a soft dough. Add remaining flour in two stages, mixing together after each addition. The dough should be fairly stiff but sticky. If thought too loose at this stage, add a little white bread flour until the dough starts to stiffen and add another 1-1½ tbsp to stiffen further. Do not allow to become too stiff.
Turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead for about 5-7 minutes until smooth. If you intend adding the raisins, work them into the dough now. Form the dough into a ball and place in a large, lightly oiled bowl. Toss the dough lightly within the bowl to cover all the dough with oil. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place for about 2 hours or more. A slow rise is better than a fast one.
Punch down in the bowl and lightly knead.
If making in a bread machine, add ingredients, excluding raisins, in the order specified by the manufacturer. Set to Dough program and start the machine. At the end of the program, turn out the finished dough onto a lightly floured surface and work in the raisins. Continue as previously.
If using a stand mixer and dough hook: add ingredients to bowl and mix ingredients at slow speed until incorporated. Increase speed to medium and allow to mix for about 8-10 minutes. Scrape down the dough from the hook periodically and continue to mix. Turn out to a lightly floured surface and work in raisins. Continue as above.
Option 1 – roll the dough into a long, thick sausage about 24-27 inches long, approximately 60-68cm. Form into a spiral about 8-10 inches, 20-25cm in diameter and spiral inwards towards the centre. Once the base is complete, continue to spiral as a second layer and allow the tip of the sausage to point upwards. Set on a lightly floured baking sheet and set aside to rise for 30-40 minutes, covered with a damp tea towel.
Option 2 – divide dough into two portions, one about 1/3 of the total and the remainder as the second. Form the larger piece into a flattened disk about 8-inches, 20cm diameter. Roll the smaller piece into a sausage about 1-inch, 25mm thick and as long as possible. Form into a coil about 4-5 inches, 10-12 cm diameter from the outside in, using the same method as Option 1 above. Locate on base, cover and allow to rise as before.
Option 3 – divide dough as in 2 above. Form the large portion as above and form the smaller portion into a smaller version of the base, similar to a cottage loaf. Cover and allow to rise as before.
Preheat oven to Gas Mark 5, 190°C, 375°F.
Once risen, glaze with egg yolk and add desired decoration – use one only.
Bake for 35-40 minutes until well risen, browned and shiny. Tap the base with a knuckle; if it sounds hollow the bread is ready. Otherwise bake for a few more minutes.
Remove from oven and allow to cool on a wire rack until quite cold before slicing.
About this recipe:
Also sourced from a former neighbour and distant relative, this was said to be a family version of a very old traditional recipe. It is exceptionally egg-rich and was quite messy to make by hand as the dough is very sticky. It did not help that the woman’s kitchen was extremely small and she had no food mixer etc and we had to work on her dining table which was covered with a sheet of polythene. If I were to make it now, I would use a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, or a bread machine.
It is not an everyday loaf and is either served at major celebrations, wedding receptions for example, or is eaten as a snack with honey, jam or preserves. When stale, it is ideal for use in a bread and butter pudding, but reduce the amount of added sugar.
Preparation time: ca. 40 min
Resting time: ca. 5 hrs
Grade of difficulty: medium
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Reference: Sweet challah
Recipe type: xarchivex
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