The traditional dishes served year after year at your family’s holiday gatherings may bring comfort and a sense of nostalgia, but you can open your loved ones up to a whole new world by incorporating recipes from around the globe.
People of all different cultures across the world are connected by food, whether it’s a classic holiday dish or a unique take on a traditional dish, like this raisin-infused challah. While the dishes themselves may drastically differ, using similar ingredients can be a unifying thread.
For those looking to pull off more international cuisine this holiday season, consider a familiar and nearly universal ingredient like raisins, a delicious addition incorporated in culturally diverse dishes. On top of their versatile flavor, they offer a better-for-you whole fruit option with no added sugar per ¼-cup serving.
Consider these global recipe ideas:
• Apple Strudel: Quite possibly one of the most famous German desserts of all, raisins add a delicious chewiness to this traditional strudel.
• Lebkuchen: A traditional German cake similar to gingerbread that’s full of sweet spices, walnuts, dates and raisins.
• Cuccidati Siciliani: Typically at their most popular during the holiday season, these Italian fig cookies feature raisins inside the deliciously fruity filling.
• Panettone: Also a holiday favorite, Panettone is a towering round of sweet bread speckled with raisins, citrus and almonds.
• Fruitcake: Traditional fruitcake is chock-full of dried raisins, golden raisins, cherries, dates, pineapple and apricots soaked in dark tea overnight.
• Bread Pudding: This English staple uses stale bread, spices, sweetener and raisins to create a dense and delicious cake.
• Cinnamon-Raisin Rugelach: These flavorful pastries are characterized by a melt-in-your-mouth cheese-based dough stuffed with a sweet cinnamon, raisin and walnut filling.
• Ghapama: A baked pumpkin stuffed with partially cooked rice, raisins, nuts, cinnamon and honey.
• Irish Soda Bread: The cakey texture of this Irish favorite is complemented by sweet, chewy raisins throughout the loaf.
Crown Raisin Challah (Pareve)
Makes 3 loaves
2 envelopes (¼ ounce each) active dry yeast
½ cup sugar
¼ cup honey
3 cups warm water
2 tsp. cinnamon
⅓ cup olive oil
2 extra-large eggs, plus 3 egg yolks
2 Tbsp. kosher salt
1 cup raisins
3 cups bread flour
6½ cups all-purpose flour
2 extra-large eggs
2 Tbsp. sugar
To make the dough: In big bowl, mix yeast, sugar, honey and warm water. Let yeast bloom about 7 minutes.
Add cinnamon, oil, eggs, egg yolks and salt. Mix well. Add raisins. Add flours and mix until sticky. Dough should be creamy yellow.
Turn dough out onto floured surface, and knead for 12 to 15 minutes or until smooth.
Oil the bowl, place dough back in bowl and cover tight with plastic wrap. Let rise in warm place about 1½ hours or until doubled.
Punch dough down, cover and let rise another 45 minutes. Punch down again and cut into three equal pieces. Let rest for about 10 minutes, then roll each piece into snakes about 30 inches long; taper at one end.
Starting with thick end, roll each snake into spiral shape like snail shell. Use a little water and stick tapered end onto body of spiral. Mold into place with hands.
Oil loaves lightly, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until poofy, about 25 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
To make the egg wash: In small bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar. Gently brush loaves with egg wash, taking care not to deflate them.
Bake for 45 minutes or until loaves are golden. Let cool completely.
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