Start by soaking raisins in rum, boiling hot water and vanilla, let them plum while the you are making dough.
In a bowl whisk together warm water, yeast, honey and flour, set aside for 5-10 minutes, until foamy.
Sift flour into bowl, reserve 1/2 cup, if needed, if dough appears too sticky you can add it while you are kneading. Some flours are moister than others. Into the flour stir in salt.
In a small bowl: whisk together eggs, egg yolks, honey, sugar, vanilla bean paste, oil, and soft butter chunks, set aside.
Once the yeast sponge is ready, pour it over the flour, followed by pouring in egg butter mixture.
Using a spoon stir until all the flour is moisten.
Then knead using a hoot attachment, for 10-15 minutes, dough should be soft but not wet, if it appears too sticky add remaining 1/2 cup of flour.
Once smooth, scrape the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead with your hand for a minute or two.
Cover with a plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm, draft free place for 2 hours.
Drain the raisins and set aside.
Take the dough out onto a floured work surface. Dough will be soft and lot of tiny holes/ bubbles.
Divide in half.
Into one half knead in rum soaked raisins.
Divide dough into 6 portions, shape each piece into a snake. Braid the bread. *see the video below how it is done.
Repeat with plain dough.
Carefully transfer braided bread onto a baking sheet. Cover loosely with kitchen flour towel and rise again for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350F.
Once risen, tops will be puffy and beautifully looking.
Brush each loaf with room temperature egg wash: whisk well one egg.
Bake at 350F for 20 minutes, then lower temperature to 330-340 for additional 10-15 minutes, cover the top with foil to prevent overly browned tops.
Remove from the oven, I usually keep the challah covered with foil as it cools.
Once cooled, enjoy with delicious Premium Butter Finlandia™.
Challah can be frozen, used to make French toast, bread pudding and other dishes.
Recipe by Haniela's (Hani Bacova)