In this challah, I also introduced margarine into the baking process. Margarine is not something I've ever used in bread before, and I think it does add something to the flakiness of the dough. You could, of course, always use butter for a dairy challah.
3/4 c plus water
1/4 tsp plain white sugar
2 1/4 tsp (1 packet) active dry or instant yeast
2 eggs plus 1 more for egg wash (you can also reserve a little of the 1 egg in the dough)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) margarine or butter, at room temperature
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp maple sugar
3 - 3 1/2 c bread flour
For the cinnamon swirl filling, adapted from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook.
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp cinnamon
2 tbsp water
You can make this challah with or without the cinnamon swirl. If making without, simply proceed as normal with braiding. Conversely, you can simply substitute maple sugar into your own basic challah. Because maple sugar is very strong and sweet, I recommend 2 tbsp of maple sugar to replace every 1/4 tbsp sugar (about half the original quantity of sugar).
Before you start, take out your margarine and allow it to reach room temperature. Proof yeast in very warm water with the 1/4 tsp white sugar. Allow to rest about 10 minutes, or until foamy. Add the room-temperature margarine in small pieces (kind of like you would for a pie) and add the eggs. Mix gently to break the yolks and add the maple sugar, flour, and salt. I usually mix briefly before going to the dough hook on my KitchenAid.
Add the cinnamon-sugar mixture and then fold over the two long sides. Remember, the longer your roll, the more coils of cinnamon you'll have but less soft dough. It's your preference.
PS: Are you thinking about the High Holidays yet? I'm married to a Hazzan, so I'm already HEARING about them ;) But, I've got a few fun things in the works for Rosh Hashanah this year that I'm really excited about. Stay tuned and Happy Baking!