This rich, eggy, slightly sweet yeast bread exists in almost every Eastern European culture. Typically, it's braided and can be made with or without raisins. Bohemians and Czechs call it houska. Poles call it chalka, Ashkenazi Jews refer to it as challah. The bread is reminiscent of French brioche and is terrific plain, with butter or toasted. Leftovers are great in bread pudding and makowki.
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Here is a larger photo of Hoska.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Rising: 2 hours
Total Time: 3 hours
Yield: 1 large or 2 medium loaves bread
- 1 cup warm milk (no hotter than 110 degrees)
- 4 ounces (1 stick) butter
- 1 cup sugar (or less, to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 packages (4 1/2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 2 large room-temperature eggs
- 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup golden raisins
- 1 large egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water for egg wash
- Add butter, sugar and salt to warm milk, stirring to combine. Place yeast and warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer and, with the paddle attachment, stir until dissolved. Add warm milk mixture and 2 eggs, and combine.
- Add 3 cups flour and beat until smooth. Add the raisins and remaining 2 1/2 cups flour and mix 5 minutes until smooth. Dough will be sticky.
- Scrape down sides of dough and let rise in same bowl, covered, until doubled, about 1 hour. See this Quick Tip for faster rising.
- With a slightly floured fish, punch down dough and turn out onto lightly floured board. If making 1 large loaf, divide dough into 3 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a strip about 14 inches long, and braid together the 3 strips on a parchment-lined baking pan.
Note: If making 2 loaves, divide dough into 2 equal pieces and then divide each half into 3 equal pieces, for a total of 6 pieces.
- Loosely cover bread with greased plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes. See this Quick Tip for faster rising.
- Heat oven to 350 degrees. Brush egg wash lightly on bread. Bake 30 minutes.
- Let cool completely before serving. Store, covered, at room temperature or slice and freeze.