If you can find Fermipan or Saf instant yeast, those would be the best choices for this recipe. Otherwise Red Star or Fleischmanns is just fine. Use a dough hook of course, with your mixer or a bread machine is also handy to prepare the dough. Challah is a most amenable dough. If your guests (or family) aren't fond of raisins, leave them out or use dried cranberries or chunks of diced apple. This is a feathery, sweet, beautiful challah anyone can make.
This recipe is posted with the expressed permission of talented baker and KosherEye friend Marcy Goldman of BetterBaking.Com Online Magazine.
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons dry yeast
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup vegetable oil
5-6 cups bread flour
1 cup raisins, plumped and dried
In a large mixing bowl, whisk water and yeast together and let stand 5 minutes. Add one cup of the flour, and then stir in eggs, honey, sugar, oil, salt and most of the flour. Fold in more flour, stirring with a wood spoon, and then kneading with dough hook, to make a soft dough, 8-10 minutes. When dough is almost fully kneaded, add the raisins. Remove the dough hook from the machine. Then form the dough into a mass in the mixing bowl and spray the dough with nonstick cooking spray and cover (the entire mixer/bowl and all) with a large plastic bag. Let rise until almost doubled, 45 minutes.
Gently deflate the dough on a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough in three portions. Form each into a rope about 10 inches long. Braid and then take the braided dough and pinch ends together to make a wreath or rounded, braided dough. For a very formed, round shape, place the dough in a springform pan. Alternatively, place the bread on the baking sheet.
Brush with egg wash and dust with granulated sugar or leave plain.
Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until almost doubled, about 45-55 minutes.
Bake in a preheated 350 F until browned, 35-40 minutes.
Cool well before slicing. Makes one large challah or two smaller challot.