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Simple Holiday Bread Recipes: Challah (Three-Strand Braid) & Raspberry Star Bread

Challah is traditionally baked on Fridays in Jewish households, and it symbolizes the start of the Sabbath, a time of rest. It's enriched with eggs and sweetened just enough to make an ordinary Friday feel like a holiday.

This dough made with a bit of yogurt gives it a wonderful tang and richness.

Makes four loaves, slightly less than 1 pound each. The recipe is easily doubled or halved.

challah ingredients
(credit: CBS)

1. Mixing and storing the dough: Mix the water, yeast, salt, eggs, honey, and melted butter in a 6-quart bowl or a lidded (not airtight) food container.

2. Mix in the flour without kneading, using a heavy-duty stand mixer (with paddle), a Danish dough whisk, or a spoon. 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 for 2 hours.

4. The dough can be used immediately after the initial rise, though it is easier to handle when cold. Refrigerate the container and use over the next 5 days.

Raspberry Star Bread

When Sarah Kieffer baked a version of this for our website, it blew our minds how gorgeous it was, and we just knew a star bread had to be in a book about celebrations. It is an obvious choice for Christmas morning, since it looks just like an ornament, but we didn't put it with the Christmas breads because we think it should be made all year long. This one is filled with Quick Raspberry Jam, and we've also included the one Sarah created with cinnamon and sugar as a variation.

Makes 1 large loaf

2 pounds (cantaloupe-size portion) Brioche dough, Amish-Style Milk Bread dough, or Challah dough, or any other enriched dough
All-purpose flour, for dusting
1 cup Quick Raspberry Jam (page 351)
Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water), for brushing the dough

Decorating sugar, for sprinkling on the loaf

1. Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 2-pound (cantaloupe-size) piece. Divide the piece in 4 equal pieces, dust with more flour and quickly shape them into balls by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go.

2. Roll the dough balls out into 4 rounds about 10 inches wide. As you roll out the dough, add flour as needed to prevent sticking.

3. Place one of the dough rounds on a piece of parchment paper. Top with one-third of the raspberry jam. Repeat with next 2 layers of dough and raspberry jam. Top with the final layer of dough.

4. Place a 2½-inch biscuit cutter (or anything that size and round) in the center of the dough. Use a knife or bench scraper to divide the circle in 16 equal sections, leaving the biscuit cutter in place so you don't cut all the way to the center.

5. Twist 2 of the sections away from each other with 2 rotations, then pinch the 2 sections together at the end to form a point. Continue with the rest of the sections until you have 8 points.

6. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rest at room temperature for 90 minutes.

7. Preheat the oven to 375°F, with a rack placed in the center of the oven.

8. Transfer the parchment paper with the star onto a baking sheet. Brush the exposed dough with egg wash and sprinkle decorating sugar in the center of the loaf.

9. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown and set.

10. Allow to cool on a rack before serving.

For more recipes, click here.
To buy the book on Amazon, click here.

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