This recipe for Polish chałka (HOW-kah) is a rich, braided egg bread that may or may not contain raisins. It's similar to Bohemian-Czech vanocka, Jewish challah, and Hungarian fonott kalacs. Chalka is served year-round, but especially at Christmas and Easter. If you have any leftover chalka, it makes delicious French toast or bread pudding with orange sauce or makowki (Polish poppyseed bread pudding).
- 1 stick/4 ounces butter (or margarine)
- 1 cup sugar (or less, to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup milk (scalded)
- 2 (1/4-ounce) packages active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup water (lukewarm)
- 3 large eggs (room temperature, divided)
- 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (divided)
- 1 cup golden raisins
Gather the ingredients.
In a small heatproof bowl or saucepan, add the butter, sugar, and salt to the scalded milk. Stir to combine and let cool to lukewarm.
Place the yeast and water in the bowl of a stand mixer and, with the paddle attachment, stir until dissolved.
Beat two of the eggs. Add the milk mixture and the eggs to the stand mixer and combine.
Add 3 cups of the flour and beat until smooth.
Add 1 cup raisins and the remaining 2 1/2 cups flour and mix, about 3 to 5 minutes, until smooth. The dough will be sticky.
Punch down the dough and turn out onto a lightly-floured board. If making 1 large loaf, divide dough into 3 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a strip about 14 inches long.
Braid together the 3 strips on a parchment-lined baking pan.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Loosely cover the bread with greased plastic wrap and let rise until double, about 30 minutes.
Beat the remaining egg and brush lightly on the bread. Bake for 30 minutes.
Let cool completely before serving.
- If making 2 loaves, divide dough into 2 equal pieces, then divide each half into 3 equal pieces for a total of 6 pieces.
- Store, covered, at room temperature or slice and freeze or freeze whole if you have room in your freezer.