Servings 2 challahs


  • KitchenAid mixer (or similar) with paddle attachment and dough hook
  • Cookie sheet
  • Pastry brush


  • 3 3/4 tsps active dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp white sugar
  • 1 3/4 cup water
  • 1 pinch saffron
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 4 tsps coarse kosher salt
  • 8 cups King Arthur unbleached all-purpose flour (or more)
  • 1 cup raisins
  • poppy or sesame seeds


Prepare saffron and yeast

  • Bring water to boil.
  • Put boiling water and saffron in bowl of mixer.
  • Let water cool to lukewarm.
  • Add yeast and 1 tbsp sugar to lukewarm water.
  • Stir to dissolve.
  • Let sit approx. 5 minutes, until a bit foamy.

Prepare dough

  • Using paddle attachment and lowest speed, mix oil into yeast.
  • Using lowest speed, beat in 4 eggs, one at a time.
  • Using lowest speed, beat in 1/2 cup sugar and salt.
  • Replace paddle attachment with dough hook.
  • Gradually add flour, beating between additions.
  • When dough holds together, it is ready to be kneaded until smooth, either with dough hook or by hand.

First rising

  • Grease large mixing bowl.
  • Put dough in mixing bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
  • Let rise in warm place for 1 hour, until almost doubled in size.

Second rising

  • Punch dough down.
  • Cover and let rise again for 1/2 hour.

Shape dough

  • If using raisins, knead them into dough.
  • Divide dough into two equal portions. Set one portion aside.
  • Form portion into 6 balls.
  • With your hands, roll each ball into a strand 12 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide.
  • Place the 6 strands in a row, parallel to each other.
  • Pinch the tops of the strands together.
  • Move outside right strand over 2 strands.
  • Move second strand from the left to far right.
  • Move outside left strand over 2 strands.
  • Move second strand from right over to far left.
  • Start over with outside right strand.
  • Continue until all strands are braided.
  • For straight loaf, tuck ends underneath.
  • For circular loaf, twist into cricle, pinching ends together.
  • WIth reserved portion, form second loaf the same way.
  • Grease cookie sheet.
  • Place braided loaves on cookie sheet at least two inches apart.

Third rising

  • Preheat over to 375 degrees F.
  • Beat remaining egg.
  • Brush 1/2 the beaten egg on loaves.
  • Let rise another hour.


  • Brush loaves with remaining egg mix.
  • Sprinkle loaves with seeds, if using.
  • Bake loaves for 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden.
  • Cool loaves on rack.


Adapted from Joan Nathan.