I always love baking with enriched doughs - they’re super soft, shiny and slightly sticky. Usually making this type of bread involves adding butter, milk, eggs and sugar to a simple base mixture to create a supple and sweet dough which bakes up to a feather-light texture. Brioche is a prime example of this. Whilst I do enjoy brioche, I tend to find that this recipe challah (or ‘chollah’) bread is actually easier to make and handle (brioche dough can be extremely sticky and hard to knead by hand) whilst still having the same soft texture. Using vegetable oil instead of butter cuts out a bit of work - no melting or softening of butter required - and makes it a bit cheaper too.
One of my favourite flavour combinations in bread is cranberries and walnuts. After having them together in a sourdough loaf from a bakery I became obsessed! I used fresh Cape Cod select cranberries here by cooking them down with sugar until thickened, set this mixture in the fridge and cut it into small squares which were then incorporated into the loaf. Doing this added sticky, jammy bursts of flavour throughout the loaf which contrasted with the sweetness of the bread and the crunch of the walnuts. Taking inspiration from loaves of challah my mum used to occasionally buy, I also sprinkled some pearl sugar onto the egg-washed dough for decoration. That step is totally optional but it does mean that if you happen to use the challah to make French toast/eggy bread the sugar will caramelise on the outside and make for the best breakfast you’ve ever had.