Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Holiday Musts from Mom... Filled Brioche and Challah!

You will have to excuse the "out-of-the-box" style blog post, but seeing as it is right smack in the middle of the holiday season I doubt anybody is reading this today anyways. I just had to show you the two stars of our Christmas brunch this (and every) year, since their creation and presentation have been a part of my very being since I was old enough to stand on a chair at the kitchen table to punch down the freshly risen dough.

My mom first complained when I told her that I was putting this recipe up on my blog (yup, she reads it occasionally... hi mom!), but in the end it saved our Holiday tradition! I had the recipe typed up a while ago, and her copy somehow went missing this past year. Without the recipe for our brioche, a steadfast and (if you will) sacred part of our Christmas tradition would be gone. Now, she's thanking her lucky stars for my thoughtfulness to the food blogging community! How about that! It's a decadent bite of bread, nuts and raisins, and very rich without being overly sweet, and my grandfather says it's perfect with a little bit of butter on Christmas morning!

What makes this bread so amazing is it's rich raisin and nut filling... perfect for the Bread Baking Day roundup over at Rolling in Dough.

Holiday Brioche
Makes 2 large loaves... about 60 servings 
2 tsp sugar
1 cup warm water
2 envelopes dry active yeast
1 cup whole milk
½ cup sugar
¼ cup salted butter
1 tsp salt
6 cups flour
2 eggs, beaten

2/3 cup honey
3 cups sultana raisins
1 cup chopped almonds
½ cup chopped hazelnuts
½ cup chopped pecans
½ cup heavy cream (no substitutes)
2/3 cup salted butter
2 tbsp cinnamon
½ tsp cloves

1 egg white, beaten with 2 tbsp water
¼ cup sugar
1/3 cup flaked almonds
  1. Dissolve yeast in sugar and water, let stand 10 minutes.
  2. Scald milk. Add sugar, butter and salt, cool to lukewarm.
  3. Stir foamy yeast mixture well and add to the milk.
  4. Beat in half the flour, add eggs and beat to incorporate.
  5. Add the remaining flour and mix until smooth and elastic dough forms.
  6. Knead 10 minutes, place in a greased bowl.
  7. Cover and let rise one hour or until doubled.
  8. Make the filling by combining all ingredients until blended.
  9. Punch dough down and divide in half.
  10. Roll each half to an 8” x 20” rectangle.
  11. Spread filling on the dough rectangles and roll up lengthwise, pinching seam.
  12. Curve rolls and place in two greased 10” springform pans.
  13. Cover and let rise 50 minutes.
  14. Preheat oven to 375F
  15. Brush each loaf with the egg white mixture and sprinkle with sugar and almonds.
  16. Bake 30-35 minutes.
  17. Cool completely in pans.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 231.0
Total Fat: 9.6 g
Cholesterol: 25.3 mg
Sodium: 38.8 mg
Total Carbs: 33.6 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.6 g
Protein: 4.5 g

This is the second of the two loaves of bread that feature prominently at our Christmas brunch table every year. The leftovers are always greedily consumed over the following week with peanut butter and honey or a smear of jam, though of course if you have the time or inclination French toast or bread pudding is a welcome use of this! It does keep well in the fridge for about a week, freeze any that will be hanging around longer.

Mommas Challah
Serves 32 - One HUGE loaf!
2 cups warm water, divided
2 pkg yeast (2 1/2 tsp)
2 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp olive oil
3 eggs, beaten
8 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp water
  1. Combine 1 cup warm water with the yeast and sugar, let stand until foamy (about 10 minutes).
  2. Add oil and eggs and beat well.
  3. Slowly blend in flour until dough is very stiff and leaving the sides of the mixing bowl.
  4. Turn out onto floured board, knead for 10 minutes until smooth and supple.
  5. Place into a well-oiled bowl, and turn to grease the top.
  6. Let sit in a warm place 1 hour or until doubled.
  7. Punch down, knead lightly and divide in 3.
  8. Braid strands loosely, tuck the ends under and place on a greased cookie sheet.
  9. Cover and let rise 1 hour.
  10. Preheat oven to 375F.
  11. Combine egg yolk and water, brush over the top of the risen loaf.
  12. Bake 35 minutes, cool completely on a wire rack.
Amount Per ServingCalories: 136.6
Total Fat: 2.2 g
Cholesterol: 26.3 mg
Sodium: 6.8 mg
Total Carbs: 24.7 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.8 g
Protein: 3.9 g
And for the finish... here's a photo of last night's Scallops Arugula!! A little tricky, a little noisy, and a whole lotta tasty!


  1. Everything sounds so delcious Sarah! Have a wonderful holiday!!

  2. I have been wanting to try making a brioche for a while now. Baking it with honey, raisins and nuts inside sounds really good.

  3. Hi Sarah, Hope you've had a nice time during the holidays. I've been reading the recipes of the event all day long today. I've bookmarked a lot of them and your's is definitely in my to do list.

  4. Hey Sarah, thanks for linking me to your mom's brioche recipe. It looks amazing with that thick, luscious filling! Thank goodness you posted it so that the recipe wouldn't be lost. I can't wait to try this - since it's such a beloved, traditional part of your family's Christmas, I'm sure it tastes phenomenal.


Thanks for the feedback!