Czech/Bohemian Braided Egg Bread With Raisins (Houska)

Sliced houska bread on a wire rack, parchment paper and a wooden surface
Michael Piazza / Getty Images
Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Rising: 2 hrs
Total: 3 hrs
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
762 Calories
35g Fat
104g Carbs
15g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 762
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 35g 44%
Saturated Fat 18g 91%
Cholesterol 298mg 99%
Sodium 481mg 21%
Total Carbohydrate 104g 38%
Dietary Fiber 5g 18%
Protein 15g
Calcium 177mg 14%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(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 chałka and 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, makówki (Polish poppyseed bread pudding), and French toast.


  • 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 F. Brush egg wash lightly on bread. Bake 30 minutes.

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