A few weeks ago I made the most delicious bread! It was a modified version of a houska that more closely resembled challah bread. A number of cultures have sweet egg breads in the culinary repertoire, many of which are consumed as holiday treats. Among these breads is houska, a czech Christmas bread. Traditionally, houska is made with sliced almonds and golden raisins, but as I am still recovering a GI issue, I've left the nuts and raisins out. The result was still an incredibly rich and flavorful bread! If you've never heard of houska, it is pretty much the same as challah bread, but with nuts and golden raisins.
I've never actually had houska before, and I've only had challah as french toast in a restaurant, but I can assure you that you will absolutely love this bread! I happened to have a a few guests over the weekend that I made my houska and they all absolutely loved it! I served it with this wonderful raspberry rhubarb preserves from World Market that I highly recommend that you try. I've never had rhubarb before either and neither had my guests, but we all fell in love with the stuff! It had just the right sweetness with a slight pop of tartness to balance out the sweetness, and the raspberry flavor was very fresh and not a bit artificial, yum!
As for the houska, it's a rich, flavorful bread that you will fully enjoy, even on its own. And let me just tell you, this bread makes the absolute BEST french toast I've ever had. Try it with the technique recommended by Chef John of FoodWishes.com (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1zyJT-PiqUA). I added lemon zest, a little lemon juice, vanilla, allspice, cinnamon, and a couple tablespoons of sugar to my batter.
You can find the houska recipe that I used here (http://soilisforlovers.wordpress.com/2010/12/26/houska-a-very-special-recipe-posted-by-my-dad/). Enjoy!!
Two eggs are for the batter and 1 is for the egg wash.
I highly recommend getting toothpicks before baking this bread so that it keeps its shape.
Also, be sure to braid tightly to get a nice shape. This was my first attempt at doing a braided bread, and I braided a bit loosely, so the loaf turned out a little different from the intended shape, although I still find it appealing.
I needed significantly more flour than the recipe called for to get the dough to the non-sticky point that is recommended, so don't be afraid if you find yourself needed to add a significant amount of extra flour.