Round Raisin Challah with Sweet Crumb Topping

It’s traditional to use round challahs for Rosh Hashanah, to represent the cycle of life. It’s also customary to eat sweet foods at this time, to symbolize our desire for a sweet year ahead, hence the raisins and sweet crumb topping.

Traditionally, at Shabbat and holiday meals, we dip the challah into salt. But from Rosh Hashanah until the end of Sukkot, we dip it in honey instead. Enjoy.


For the dough

4 tbsp. dry yeast

5 cups very warm water

5 large eggs

1¼ cup honey

1 cup oil (canola or light olive oil)

2 tbsp. kosher salt (if using table salt, use half the amount)

Approximately 18 cups flour

1 cup raisins

For the egg wash

1 egg

For the crumb topping

½ cup flour

½ cup sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

5 tbsp. oil


In a very large bowl, dissolve yeast in 2 cups warm water and let sit about 15 to 20 minutes until slightly frothy.

Add the rest of the ingredients and half the flour. Mix until a loose batter forms. Add the rest of the flour a couple of cups at a time, until the dough is soft but not sticky. You may need slightly more or less flour. Knead for 10 to 15 minutes.

Cover the dough with a wet towel or plastic wrap and put it in a warm place to rise for about 1½ hours. Dough should double in size.

Punch the dough down and let it rest for 10 minutes. Say the blessing for separating challah:

“Ba-ruch a-tah a-do-noi elo-hai-nu me-lech ha-olam a-sher kid-sha-nu b’mitz-vo-tav v’tzi-va-nu l’haf-rish cha-llah. Separate a small piece of dough, approximately 1 ounce, and say: “This is challah.” Burn the dough by wrapping it in a piece of silver foil and placing it in the broiler, or by any other method. (If burning it inside the oven, there should be no other food baking in the oven at the same time.)

Divide into six equal pieces. Roll each piece into a long strand, then roll up in a spiral and tuck the end underneath. Place loaves in round pans or on lightly greased cookie sheets and let rise for another 40 minutes.

Make the sweet crumb topping by putting the flour and sugar into a bowl. Slowly add the vanilla and oil, mixing with a spoon, or your fingertips until it reaches crumb consistency.

Gently brush the loaves with the beaten egg and sprinkle with crumb topping. Bake at 375° F for approximately 45 minutes. Loaves should be golden brown and firm on the bottom. If you are using both oven racks at the same time, rotate the trays halfway through so they bake evenly.

Yields: 6 challahs

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