If there's anything better than challah, it's challah with spices! Great for morning toast, an afternoon snack, or an accompaniment for dinner.
In a mixing bowl for a stand mixer, combine water, pomegranate juice, bread flour, yeast, and salt. Cover and allow to rise for 1 to 3 hours. The surface of the sponge will appear puffy and spongy in texture with bubbles and divots. The sponge will also smell rich and yeasty with a bit of an alcohol aroma. Those are the flavor building blocks for good bread!
Add barley flour, EVOO, silan, whole eggs, yolks, flour, raisins, and figs to the sponge. Knead until a dough that is slightly tacky forms. You don't want to add too much flour to produce a dry dough. Flour needs to rehydrate and a tacky dough allows enough moisture to do that.
Either cover and refrigerate dough overnight or cover and allow to rise 2-3 hours in a warm spot before braiding. If you cover and refrigerate, the next day allow the dough to come to room temperature before braiding.
Once the dough has risen, braid or pan as desired on a greased baking sheet or pan. Cover loosely and allow to rise at least 2-3 hours. A long second rise gives the dough better flavor, so don't rush the second rise!
Preheat the oven to 350˚F.
Whisk together egg and water.
Brush egg wash on the challah. Allow to set on the dough for 10 minutes. Brush the dough a second time for a lacquered effect.
Bake for 12-15 minutes, rotate pan, and bake an additional 12-15 minutes or until you hear a hollow sound when the bread is thumped gently.