• 2 packages active dry yeast, or 2 cakes fresh compressed yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 8–9 cups flour, sifted
  • ¾ cup honey
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder, optional
  • ¾ cup margarine, room temperature
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ cup raisins


  • 1 egg yolk, beaten with
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • sesame or poppy seeds, optional


In a large mixing bowl dissolve yeast and 1 teaspoon of sugar in ½ cup of warm water. Cover and let stand for 5–10 minutes until it foams. Beat in 4 cups of flour and remaining ingredients, except raisins, until smooth — about 5 minutes. Add remaining flour 2 cups at a time, beating well after each addition. Add raisins. Knead with a dough hook or by hand for 10 minutes. Place in a greased bowl and turn dough to grease all over. Cover with a damp cloth and allow to rise until double in bulk — about 1½–2 hours. Punch down.

Divide dough into 3 equal parts, setting a handful aside for the ladder. Roll each part into a rope 18 inches long. Taper ends. Coil rope around itself (there should be no hole in the center) and tuck ends under. Place in a round, 9-inch springform pan. To make ladder, make 2 pencil- thin strips, 4 inches long, for sides; and 4 thin strips, 2 inches wide, for rungs. Fasten securely to top center of each challah.

Cover and place in a warm place for 50 minutes to rise again. Brush with glaze. Sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds, if desired. Bake in a preheated 350° oven for 40–45 minutes. When challah is done, it has a hollow sound when tapped on bottom.