1 1/2 cups raisins or dried cranberries
1 ¾ cup warm water
2 tablespoons instant yeast
6-8 cups bread flour
1/3 cup oil
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon salt
3 tablespoons honey
1 egg yolk
Beaten egg to glaze
Sesame seeds and sugar, for dusting or slivered almonds
Stack two baking sheets together and line top one with parchment paper.
In a large mixer bowl stir together the yeast and water. Let stand for 3 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, cover the cranberries or raisins in boiling water for a few minutes and then drain; dry with paper towels.
To the yeast, briskly stir in 4 cups of the flour, the oil, sugar, honey, salt, eggs, and yolk. Stir into a shaggy mass. Let stand 10-20 minutes to absorb flour. Knead, by hand or with a dough hook, adding remaining flour as required to make a soft and elastic dough (about 10-12 minutes). The dough should leave sides of the bowl. If it is sticky, add small amounts of flour until dough is soft but no longer sticks. When it is all but finished being kneaded, add in the raisins or cranberries. (Note: if you find dough too bulky for your mixer or bread machine, divide in two. Knead one portion at a time).
Remove the dough book and spray the dough with non-stick cooking spray. Cover the machine, bowl and all, with a large plastic bag and let rise until almost doubled in size and puffy looking, anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes.
(If you are doing an overnight, cool rise, place dough in a large, lightly greased bowl and insert this in a large plastic bag. Refrigerate overnight. If you see the bread rising too quickly, open the bag, deflate dough, and reseal. Next day, allow dough to warm up then gently deflate and proceed.)
Divide dough in two. For "faigele" or turban-shaped New Year's challah, shape each section into a long rope (about 12-14 inches long) which is thicker at one end and coil it, starting with the thicker end first, tucking the end in on top to "lock". Or, you can divide each dough section into three ropes, around 14 inches long and make a traditional challah braid.
Place on the baking sheet. In a small bowl, whisk together egg glaze ingredients. Brush loaf with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds and sugar, or almonds. Cover lightly with a plastic bag and let rise until puffy, around 30-45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 F. and bake another 35-45 minutes or until bread is evenly browned.
Makes one large or two small breads. Baked in loaves, this is an amazing yeasted cranberry bread.
Makes one large or two medium loaves. Can be frozen baked or unbaked. If freezing unbaked, let bread rise slowly, overnight in the fridge. Bring to room temperature before baking.
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