Step 1: Ingredients
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 package (.25 oz) active-dry yeast
2 large eggs
1/2 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
3/4 cups dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups chopped walnuts
Step 2: Do(ugh) Work
2. While the butter/milk/corn syrup mixture is cooling, heat water (microwave or stovetop) until it reaches 100 degrees. Add yeast to water (at 100 degrees), gently mix and let yeast rest for 5-10 minutes.
Note: I've always been told yeast should be added to liquid anywhere between 100-110 degrees in order to activate. If it's too cold, it won't activate and if it's too hot, it will die.
3. While yeast is resting, add butter/milk/corn syrup mixture, salt, cinnamon, 1-1.5 cups of flour and rested yeast/water mixture to large bowl and mix on low until just combined. I used my KitchenAid (with the paddle), but a hand mixer will also work. Add eggs one at a time and mix until incorporated. Make sure to scrape the sides to mix in any ingredients that may have been missed.
4. At this point, I switched out my paddle for my dough hook on my KitchenAid. Add the last cup of flour to the mixture in three parts, mixing well and scraping the sides in between to make sure all of the flour is incorporated.
At this point the dough should be pulling from the sides of the bowl, if it's still too wet, add more flour by the tablespoon until it is pulling away from the sides. Keep in mind you don't want to add too much flour, or else it could make your bread tough.
5. When the dough no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl, you should begin kneading it. I turned my KitchAid up to medium-low (4) and let it go for about 5 minutes until the dough was smooth. If you're kneading by hand, make sure to turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface and knead for about 7-10 minutes until smooth and elastic.
6. Once you have finished kneading the dough, place it into a lightly greased medium or large bowl. Cover the bowl with a tea towel or plastic wrap. Allow to rise for an hour in a warm place or until it has doubled in size.
I set my empty oven to preheat to 170 degrees and shut it off after two minutes, then placed my prepared dough and bowl into the oven with the light on. If you do this, make sure your bowl is oven-safe.
Step 3: Prepare for Bake Off
8. Prepare a work surface by lightly flouring it.
Once your dough has doubled in size, punch it down to release excess gas and air bubbles. Divide the dough into three parts (or braids) and roll one part out onto your prepared work surface. Roll the dough out into a rectangle that is about 1/4 inch thick. My rectangle was about 7x14 inches.
9. Spread 1/3 of the filling out onto your rolled dough, leaving about an inch free on all sides. Tightly roll the dough so you have a long strand and pinch the seam closed.
Gently squeeze or pull the strand until it's evened out and lengethed to about 20-24 inches in size. Be careful not to rip the dough, if you can't reach 20-24 inches, just make sure all strands are the same length.
10. Place the strand onto a lightly greased sheet pan seam down and repeat steps 8-10 for the rest of the dough and filling. Place each strand side by side.
11. Once all three strands are on your sheet pan, tightly pinch the top end of all three strands together. Begin to braid the bread. Make sure to keep the braids nice and tight.
Pull the right strand over the middle strand (now right) and the left strand over the right strand (now middle) and repeat until you can no longer braid the strands.
Once you have finished braiding, punch the bottom ends together and gently fold or tuck the pinched ends of the braid under to keep them from coming undone.
12. Cover the dough with Saran wrap or a tea towel and allow to rise for about 30 minutes.
I placed my dough back in my warmed oven for 20 minutes, and then took it out for 10 to let the oven preheat.
13. If you're dough is rising outside of the oven, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. If it's in the oven, wait 20 minutes, remove dough and then preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Step 4: Challah
Your bread should be a golden brown and make a hollow sound if you knock on it. If your bread is still squishy, place it back in the oven and allow to bake for about 3-5 minutes. Watch your bread and be very careful so that it doesn't burn!
15. Once you have removed your bread from the oven, allow to cool on the sheet pan for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to rest until cool.
16. Enjoy on by itself, with butter or as French toast!