CHALLAH WITH RAISINS
1¼ cups very warm water
1 package dry yeast
½ cup sugar plus 1 tablespoon sugar for mixing with the egg and brushing over
challah before it is baked
8½ to 9 cups better for bread flour
5 eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons salt
1 stick sweet unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup black or yellow raisins
1 tablespoon olive oil for bowl
Combine water, yeast, and sugar in a large bowl. Let sit for 2 to 5
minutes. Stir in 2 cups flour and let sit uncovered for 30 minutes. Stir in
eggs, salt, butter, 2 more cups flour, and raisins. Mix with a wooden
spoon until smooth. Add enough remaining flour to make a soft dough.
Turn out the dough on well floured surface and knead about 10 minutes. Add
more flour until dough is no longer sticky. Place dough in a well oiled bowl. Turn dough once. Divide dough in half. Cut each half in three pieces and roll each 1/3 into a sausage shape. Attach the three pieces of the dough together at the top. Secure by pressing down on dough with your finger and carefully braid. Do same with other half of dough. To make dough a little higher, you may divide each half into 2/3’s, having one piece a little larger for the bottom and top. Each half is then divided into to thirds and braided. The smaller piece goes on top of the larger braided pieces. The dough then rises for two hours before baking.
Turn oven to 350 degrees for a few minutes and turn if off. Place on cookie sheet and let rise in the turned-off oven for 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees and bake about 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool. Serve and enjoy!