Peshwari Challah

Adapted from Kosher Revolution: New Techniques and Great Recipes for Unlimited Kosher Cooking, by Geila Hocherman and Arthur Boehm

2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
1 tablespoon plus 1/3 cup sugar
3 ½ to 4 cups bread flour, as needed
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin, divided in half
¼ teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon fennel seed, divided in half
3 large eggs
½ cup canola oil, plus more for the oiling the bowl
½ cup shelled unsalted pistachios
½ cup flaked coconut
½ cup golden raisins, chopped fine
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons honey, divided

1. Stir the yeast in a small bowl with 1 tablespoon of sugar and ¾ cup warm water. Let sit until about 1 inch of foam has formed, about 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix 3 ½ cups flour, 1/3 cup sugar, salt, ½ teaspoon of the cumin, turmeric, ground cardamom, and ½ teaspoon of the fennel seeds until combined. Make a well in the center of the mixture.

3. In a small bowl, mix two of the eggs and the oil. Pour into the well along with the yeast mixture. Mix on low speed to blend. Remove the paddle, insert the dough hook, sprinkle with ¼ cup flour, and knead on low speed for 1 minute. If the dough is still sticky, add more flour in ¼ cup increments until an unsticky, soft dough forms. Continue to knead for a total of 5 minutes.

4. Oil a medium bowl. Form a ball with the dough and set it in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise until it has doubled in bulk, 2 to 3 hours.

5. Meanwhile, make the filling. In a mini-food processor, combine the pistachios, coconut, golden raisins, remaining ½ teaspoon cumin, coriander, salt, and ½ teaspoon fennel seeds. Pulse until finely chopped.

6. Punch the dough down, cover, and let rest for 10 minutes. Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Using a knife or dough cutter, halve the dough and roll one half into an 18-x-9 inch rectangle. Spread half of the nut mixture evenly over the dough and drizzle with 1 ½ tablespoons of honey. Starting with the nearest long side, roll the dough jellyroll style, applying pressure to the ends to taper them slightly. Wind the dough into a spiral, tucking the outmost end underneath the loaf. Place on the prepared cookie sheet. Repeat the same process with the second half of the dough and then transfer it to the cookie sheet, making sure to leave space between the two loaves, as they will rise. Cover the loaves with a dishtowel and let the dough rise until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.

7. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place an empty cookie sheet with sides in the bottom of the oven and allow to heat.

8. In a small bowl, mix the remaining egg with 1 tablespoon water. Brush the risen loaves with the egg wash and put in the oven. Pour 1 cup of hot water onto the heated cookie sheet to create steam, and immediately close the oven door. Bake until the challah is golden and sounds hollow when tapped, 25 to 35 minutes. Let challah cool on a wire rack before serving.

Yield: 2 loaves

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