In a small mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast and tablespoon of sugar in
the lukewarm water. In a large mixing bowl, combine the hot water with
the oil, ½ cup sugar, and salt. Stir to dissolve the sugar and salt.
Cool to lukewarm.
Add 2 cups of flour to the water to make a batter. beat 3 of the
eggs in a small bowl and add to the batter along with the yeast and
raisins. Beat well. Add the remaining flour, or enough to make a soft
dough. Knead lightly, gather into a ball, and place in an oiled bowl,
turning to coat all sides. Cover and set in a warm draft-free place to
rise until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours. When light, punch down the
dough and shape the challah.
To make braids, cut the risen dough into thirds. Roll into 3 equal
strips about 18 inches long. Align the strips next to each other on a
large greased baking sheet. Braid the strips together; tuck each end
in carefully. Divide the second piece into thirds. Roll into equal
strips about 16 inches long, then form into a second braid and place
on top of the first braid. With the remaining small piece of dough,
make a third braid about 14 inches long and place on top of the second
braid. Be sure to center each braid on the larger one below. Let rise
for 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Beat the fourth egg with tbsp of
water until well blended. Brush the egg mixture over the entire
challah. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until the bread is golden brown
and sounds hollow when tapped with a knife handle, a spoon , or the
knuckles. Remove the challah from the baking sheet and cool on a wire
- After glazing the challah with the egg wash, sprinkle with poppy
seeds or sesame seeds.
- Divide the dough in half and make 2 smaller breads.
- For a less sweet bread, reduce the amount of sugar.
- Make miniature buns for hamburgers and miniature hot dog rolls
for cocktail franks. To shape the buns, roll the dough ¼ inch
thick on a lightly floured board. Cut out rounds with a small
round cookie cutter or the top of an empty pill bottle. For the
cocktail franks, an empty spice can or the top of an empty
band-aid box (about 2¾ x 1½ inches) make excellent cutters.
Round off the oblong ends by cutting away corners with a knife.
Let the buns rise on a greased baking sheet. Brush with beaten
egg. Bake in a 400-degree F. oven for 5 to 10 minutes until
- Omit the raisins and you have a basic sweet dough from which a
variety of dessert breads can be made. Try kneading in a generous
amount of cut-up dried apricots, dates, and prunes. Bake in a mold
or a bread pan and voilà! A delicious fruit bread.