With Hanukkah coming close, it’s time to get every last preparation in order, especially one of the most important dishes: The challah! As tradition dictates, two loaves of braided-challah are made; each one containing six “braids” meant to represent the 12 total tribes of the Israelites. Although it might seem hard to make from scratch, fear not! With this easy-to-follow recipe, we promise you’ll be breaking bread in no time. Enjoy!
Dissolve yeast and tablespoon of sugar in 1 ¾ - 2 cups of lukewarm water in a large mixing bowl. Add oil, and whisk to incorporate, then add in 4 of the eggs and beat one at a time. Add salt and the remaining sugar.
Gradually add flour, one cup at a time until the dough holds together. Once the dough begins to hold into a ball, turn onto a well-floured working surface and knead for 5-7 minutes. Before returning to the mixing bowl, lightly grease with a small amount of oil. Cover with plastic food wrap and allow to rise for approx. 60 minutes.
Once the dough has doubled in size, punch the dough and allow to rise in a warm place for an additional 60 minutes. After the second rising, knead in the raisins (optional) and then divide the dough into 12 small balls. Roll each of the balls into ½ inch-wide strands. At this point, you’ll also want to preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
Take 6 of the strands and line them up on a lightly floured surface. Pinch the ends of all 6 strands together at one end then use this guide for braiding:
1. Take outside right strand and braid over 2 strands
2. Take second strand from left and crossover to outside right
3. Take outside left and braid over 2 strands
4. Take second strand from right and crossover to outside left
5. Repeat steps 1-4 until you’ve used entire length of dough
6. Tuck both ends underneath the loaf
7. Repeat to create 2nd loaf
Place the loaves on a greased baking sheet, beat the last egg and brush two egg washes on both before baking. Sprinkle with poppy or sesame seeds if desired, then bake at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until the loaves are shiny and golden brown in color.