* 2 envelopes active dry yeast
* 1 tbsp sugar
* 1 cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees F.)
* 1 cup hot water
* 6 tbsp oil
* ½ cup sugar
* 1 tsp salt
* 7 cups sifted all-purpose flour
* 4 eggs (graded large), divided
* ½ cup golden raisins
* Oil for the bowl
* 1 tbsp water
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 rack.
* 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 done.
* 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 voil