Holiday Challah


3/4 cup sweet wine

3/4 cup golden raisins

2 cups milk or water


1/3 cup granulated sugar

6 tablespoons unsalted butter or margarine

1 – 1/4 oz. package active dry yeast or its equivalent, 2 1/2 teaspoons

3 eggs, lightly beaten

Approximately 6-7 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons vegetable oil for oiling bowl

Egg wash — 1 egg mixed with 1 tsp. water

1-2 tablespoons sesame seeds


Heat wine in a glass measuring cup or bowl in the microwave oven. Add raisins, cover, and reserve at room temperature until needed.

In a small saucepan, heat milk or water, sugar, and butter or margarine over low heat just until butter or margarine is melted. Transfer to a large bowl and let mixture cool to 110-120 degrees. Sprinkle yeast over mixture, stirring with a wooden spoon to combine. Cover bowl with a damp towel or plastic wrap, and allow to rest 5-10 minutes at room temperature until mixture begins foaming. (If the mixture does not foam after fifteen minutes, your yeast is expired. Discard the mixture, purchase a new package of yeast, checking the expiration date on the back of the package, and start the process again.)

With a large wooden spoon or a dough whisk, mix eggs into yeast mixture. Add 1 1/2 cups of flour and 1 teaspoon salt, stirring to combine.

Drain raisins over a sieve or in a colander. Add raisins to mixture, along with 1 1/2 cups of flour. Stir to combine. Continue adding flour, a handful at a time, stirring well after each addition. When dough begins to leave the sides of the bowl and becomes too stiff to stir, lightly flour counter top.

Turn dough out onto counter top and sprinkle the top of the dough with additional flour, Knead the dough, pushing it away from you with the heels of your hands, and folding it back over itself toward you. Repeat motion, lightly dusting with additional remaining flour to keep it from being sticky. Knead the dough for a total of 10-15 minutes, or until dough becomes smooth and just slightly sticky.

Lightly coat the bowl, in which dough was mixed, with 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil. Place dough into bowl, turning dough to lightly coat all sides with oil. Cover bowl with a damp towel or plastic wrap and set aside to rise at room temperature until doubled in size, 1 _-2 hours. (Alternatively, dough may be placed overnight in the refrigerator, where it will rise very slowly. When you are ready to continue making the challah, remove bowl with dough from the refrigerator and allow it to reach room temperature, 1-1 1/2 hours.)

Lightly oil a large baking sheet with vegetable oil or cover it with parchment paper.

Turn the dough out onto a very lightly floured counter. Roll the dough into a long rope, approximately 24-28 inches long. Lightly roll the rope of dough around itself. Transfer the circle of dough to the prepared baking sheet. Cover the dough with a damp towel or plastic wrap and let the challah rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Brush challah lightly with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Place challah into preheated oven and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until challah is golden brown and hollow-sounding when tapped. Transfer challah from baking sheet to a cooling rack and allow to cool at room temperature before serving.

The challah, once completely cooled, can be stored in a plastic bag at room temperature for one day or frozen in a large freezer bag for up to one month. Leftover challah can be used to make delicious French toast or bread pudding.

Challah will generously serve 12-15 people.