1whole egg2 egg yolks, whisked, plus one extra egg for egg wash
1/4cupvegetable oilplus more for greasing bowl
3 3/4 - 4 1/2cupsbread flour or all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
1 1/2cupsdried fruit and nutsapricots, raisins, cranberries, candied ginger, pineapple, walnuts, etc, chopped
Raw sugar for sprinkling
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 cinnamon and all spice and combine. Gradually add 3 cups flour and salt either with a hook attachment using an electric mixer or a spoon and your hands until combined. Knead for about 5 minutes, adding more flour as needed, and form into a ball. If it's too sticky, add a bit more flour. You may not need it all. 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. Whisk the last egg yolk with 1/2 tablespoon water and generously brush over challah 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!
You will also need 3+ hours to let the challah rise. Plan ahead!