Tender, lightly sweetened, luminous as gold, fragrantly spiced, and packed with sweet raisins and a hint of citrus, this High Holiday season challah is inspired by traditional Cornish saffron bread. Drizzled with sweet honey, this exotically flavored challah makes for an awesomely sweet way to bring in the New Year.
Soak the saffron threads in 1/2 cup of boiling-hot water for 5-8 minutes, or until water has cooled. Remove saffron and discard. Add the saffron water to the 1 1/2 cups of lukewarm water. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the dough-hook attachment, combine the bread flour, yeast, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. With the mixer set to low speed, add the water and oil, followed by the eggs, and knead to combine. Continue kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic and pulls away from the sides of the bowl (this should take about 6-10 minutes). Add more flour if necessary (if dough does not pull away from the bowl). Add the raisins and mix just to incorporate. Cover the dough and let rest in a warm area for 1 hour. Punch down the dough and re-shape into a ball. Divide the dough into 5 (1 lb.) balls. Roll each ball out into a 16-inch strand/rope. Roll one end of the strand inward to create a spiral snail-shell shape. Continue rolling the strand in the same direction until the spiral is complete. Tuck the loose end of the spiral underneath the challah and pinch it tightly into the bottom, securing it. Place challahs on baking tray and let rise for 30-45 minutes, until they are about double in size. Preheat oven to 350°F. Paint challahs with egg-wash mixture. Bake for 25 minutes, turning halfway through baking. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. Enjoy, y'all, and Shana Tova, a happy and sweet new year.