Oh it’s hard to be a Jew on Christmas. But a bit easier thanks to this Eggnog Fruitcake Challah!
Hello. Confession time: Eggnog. I’m a fan. Yes, it’s sickeningly sweet, (and has more calories than a dozen Nutella Rugelach) but nothing a splash of whiskey can’t cure, right? Tis the season and all that jazz?
This year, Christmas Day is on a Friday which got me thinking about challah which got me thinking it’s about darn time for a gentile challah, right? Just me? I know a lot of y’all who frequent the ole blog aren’t even Jewish (a big shalom to you anyway!) so here is my gift to you. Jew food with a Christmas flair.
And confession numero dos. I love Christmas too! The lights, the joy, the fact that I can watch all my friends stress about getting gifts and cooking ham while I’m just here eating gingerbread men, watching Love Actually for the 900th time and gorging on eggnog. What’s not to love??
Confession number three. I’ve never even had fruitcake! But I know it’s the butt of many a Christmas joke. The kind of thing you bring receive as a gift and just keep re-gifting it until some poor sap actually eats it. But in theory, I like it.
Dried fruit, spices, rum? I’m so in.
Maybe you even want to leave a few slices of this challah for Santa instead of cookies this year?
I think it will make up for the past 12 months of naughty. Or can’t hurt!
- For Challah:
- 1 envelope active dry yeast (2¼ teaspoons)
- ¼ cup warm whole milk (about 110 degrees F)
- ¼ cup plus 2 teaspoons sugar
- ¾ cup eggnog
- 1 whole egg, 2 egg yolks, whisked, plus one extra egg for egg wash
- ¼ cup vegetable oil, plus more for greasing bowl
- ¼ cup honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1½ teaspoons cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon all spice
- 3-3½ cups bread flour
- 1½ cups dried fruit and nuts (apricots, raisins, cranberries, candied ginger, pineapple, walnuts, etc), chopped
- Raw sugar for sprinkling
- ¼ cup rum
- First, make your challah dough. Prepare the yeast in a large mixing bowl for a stand mixer by whisking it with warm milk and 1 teaspoon sugar. Let yeast stand until it foams and puffs up, about 10 minutes. If it doesn’t get foamy, your yeast is bad or the liquid was too warm or cool. Try again!
- Using the whisk attachment for the stand mixer, mix in the remaining sugar, eggnog, eggs, oil, honey and vanilla into the yeast mixture. (You can just use a whisk of you’re doing this by hand too.) Then add salt, cinnamon and all spice and combine. Gradually add 3 cups flour and either with a hook attachment using an electric mixer or a spoon and your hands until combined. Knead for about 5-10 minutes, and form into a ball. If it's too sticky, add a bit more flour. Remove from bowl, and knead for 5 more minutes by and, kneading in dried fruit and nuts. Dough should be soft, smooth and slightly tacky.
- Place the dough in a bowl greased with oil and cover. Let dough ferment in a warm place until it has doubled in size, about 2 hours. I put mine on top of an oven heated to 200 degrees.
- When the dough is ready, divide into three equal sized balls. Stretch each one into a strand and braid.
- Carefully place the challah on a parchment lined baking sheet, cover lightly with plastic wrap, and let it rise again for 45 minutes or so until it's light and fuffy looking (exact proofing timing for challah will depend on environmental conditions.)
- Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Wash with egg wash and sprinkle with raw sugar. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown and with an internal temperature of 190 degrees F, rotating pans halfway through. If the challah start to brown too fast, cover with foil.
- Brush warm challah with rum if desired. You can also make an eggnog glaze by mixing powdered sugar with just enough eggnog to make it runny. Drizzle over cooled challah!