Mama Living Abroad

Raisin and Cinnamon Challah

Raisin and Cinnamon Challah with a white tea towel

In honor of Dr. Richard (Rick) Thurmer R.I.P
A few years ago, before face masks, social distancing, and stockpiling toilet papers… Do you remember those days? I was on a dance team. I grew up dancing and always my biggest joy was to be a part of a team. The beauty of a dance team is the social aspects. Throughout the years these dance communities brought amazing people into my life (like my hubby :-)) and many fun adventures and festivals.
A few years after we moved to Seattle, I joined the “USA Dance-Seattle Chapter” a local ballroom formation team, and became a really good friend with Alma (Allie). Allie opened her heart and home to my family. We celebrated thanksgiving together, New years, tea times, and much much more. Allie and her husband Rick and son Derek (they have 2 sons living in other states) became our family away from home. Rick was a mountaineer (and a physician) who summited the highest peaks on all seven continents! We loved to hear his inspiring stories about adventures from all over the world. Rick was a truly remarkable human. A terrific husband, father, doctor, and athlete. When I met Allie at the beginning of March for a walk, she told me that Rick was preparing to climb K2 again by pushing his wheelbarrow filled with hand weights up and down their hilly neighborhood. He was a skilled and experienced climber and in very good health. Two weeks later I received a devastating text from Allie that Rick died in a climbing accident on Dragontail Peak (about two hours from home) while solo training. It appeared he had fallen several hundred feet, no words to describe such a big loss. Rick had a life full of breathtaking “summits”, and I am thankful that we had the opportunity to know him. I thought about what would be appropriate to bring to the family, and Challah felt like the right thing. There is something just incredibly comforting about fresh-baked Challah, the addition of raisins and cinnamon adds a mild sweetness. We’ll miss you Rick…until we meet again on a higher summit…
Here you can read more about Rick. 

Craving more recipes?

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Raisin and Cinnamon Challah with a white tea towel

Raisin and Cinnamon Challah

Makes 1 loaf
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Servings: 1


For the challah

  • 3 1/2 cups (500 grams) all-purpose flour+ a little more for dusting
  • 2 tablespoons (20 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon (10 grams) active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) canola oil + a little more for greasing
  • About 1 1/4 cups (300ml) lukewarm water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For the filling:

  • 1 oz (30 grams) raisins (about 2 tablespoons)

For the topping:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon (10 grams) light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon


The Challah:

  • In the bowl of a standing mixer, put flour, sugar, and yeast (or in a large mixing bowl if kneading by hand) and mix/stir for one minute.
  • Let the mixer work while slowly adding the oil.
  • Gradually add water (**read my tip about water below) and mix to form the dough.
  • Add the salt and knead for 10-15 minutes (It helps the gluten form and the dough to be elastic with better structure).
  • Grease the dough with a little bit of oil, cover with a kitchen towel and let the dough rise until doubled (place the bowl somewhere warm).
  • Once the dough is doubled in size- it's time to shape it!

Shaping the dough:

  • Divide the dough into three equal portions.
  • Take one of the portions and roll it out with a rolling pin until it is flat, about 1/4 inch (1/2 cm) thick.
  • Sprinkle a bit of raisin down the center of each piece, then fold the dough over and roll it into about 15-inch rope, pinch the ends tightly. Repeat with the remaining dough pieces.
  • Gather the ropes and squeeze them together at the very top. Braid the ropes together like braiding hair and squeeze the ends together when complete.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the Challah on it.
  • Place the pan somewhere warm, cover with a towel, and let it rise until puffed, about an hour.
  • Heat the oven to 400°F/200°C. When ready to bake, whisk the egg with a tablespoon of water and brush it all over the Challah.
  • Sprinkle sugar and cinnamon.
  • Slide the Challah on its baking sheet into the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. The challah is done when it is deeply golden brown (registers 190°F/90°C in the very middle with an instant-read thermometer).
  • Let the Challah cool on a cooling rack. Enjoy!

Tips and Tricks:

  • For vegan Challah, use one tablespoon of maple syrup mixed with one tablespoon of water instead of the egg wash.
  • Water: Because each flour is different, stored differently, and has different absorption capacities, the amount of liquid will almost always change. Even if you always make the same flour, it may be that on different days, the flour will absorb more liquid than before. So, start with half a cup of water and add as needed gradually. The dough should be very soft but not sticky. Dough that lacks liquid will be stiffer and much less comfortable to work with. The water temperature should be warm.
  • The first rise: Most recipes will recommend about an hour and a half or until the dough has doubled. But that figure can also change radically, especially if it's particularly cold weather, which will then require a few hours for the dough to increase in size. In summer, it can be much shorter.
  • Shape: Divide the dough into equal pieces by weight. It is essential to braid the loaf slightly loose so the dough can rise.

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Hi, I’m Rachel.

Welcome to my little corner of the internet! I’m happy you’re here. I am the food blogger behind “Mama Living Abroad.” In this space, I am sharing flavorful recipes that I love to make and have my family and friends approve.

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