Czech/Bohemian Braided Egg Bread (Houska)

Sliced houska bread on a wire rack, parchment paper and a wooden surface
Michael Piazza / Getty Images
Ratings (25)
  • Total: 60 mins
  • Prep: 30 mins
  • Cook: 30 mins
  • Rising: 2 hrs
  • Yield: 1 large bread (4 servings)
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
762 Calories
35g Fat
104g Carbs
15g Protein
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This rich, eggy, slightly sweet yeast bread exists in almost every Eastern European culture. Typically, it's braided and can be made with or without raisins. Bohemians and Czechs call it houska. Poles call it chalka Ashkenazi Jews refer to it as challah. The bread is reminiscent of French brioche and is terrific plain, with butter or toasted. Leftovers are great in bread pudding and makowki.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup milk (warm, but no hotter than 110 degrees)
  • 4 ounces (1 stick) butter
  • 1 cup sugar (or less, to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 packages (4 1/2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup water (warm)
  • 2 large eggs (room-temperature)
  • 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 1 large egg beaten (with 1 teaspoon water for egg wash)

Steps to Make It

  1. Add butter, sugar, and salt to warm milk, stirring to combine. Place yeast and warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer and, with the paddle attachment, stir until dissolved. Add warm milk mixture and 2 eggs, and combine.

  2. Add 3 cups flour and beat until smooth. Add the raisins and remaining 2 1/2 cups flour and mix 5 minutes until smooth. The dough will be sticky.

  3. Scrape down sides of the dough and let rise in the same bowl, covered, until doubled, about 1 hour. Cut the rise time by microwaving the dough.

  4. With a slightly floured fist, punch down dough and turn out onto lightly floured board. If making 1 large loaf, divide dough into 3 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a strip about 14 inches long and braid together the 3 strips on a parchment-lined baking pan. Note: If making 2 loaves, divide dough into 2 equal pieces and then divide each half into 3 equal pieces for a total of 6 pieces.

  5. Loosely cover the bread with greased plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.

  6. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Brush egg wash lightly on bread. Bake 30 minutes.

  7. Let cool completely before serving. Store covered at room temperature or slice and freeze.