I know - I've made challah 3 times in the past 5 weeks or so.
This is the original recipe I've always used and it's really the best one I can make. This is "Scott's" recipe - from the News-Gazette and it pre-dates me - so it's from before 1995!
7 - 7 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
2 T active dry yeast (I use 2 packets)
2 c water
1/4 c sugar
2 t kosher salt
raisins, popppy seeds, sesame seeds (optional)
Combine water, sugar and margarine in a saucepan and heat until just barely over body temp (a tip from Alton Brown I recently tried. Apparently I had always heated my water too hot!)
Meanwhile - mix 3 c flour and yeast in stand mixture with hook. When water mixture is just hot enough add to flour and mix well. Add in 3 eggs. Add in flour 1 cup at a time until the dough is moderately stiff and elastic - mixing for 6-8 minutes.
Place in clean oiled bowl and let rise until double. Divide dough into thirds and each third into thirds again. Work in raisins at this point if you are using. Braid into three loaves. If it's a holiday - make into a round loaf. Otherwise you may leave straight. Let rise until double again. Brush with beaten egg and top with seeds if desired. Bake in 350 - 375 degree oven for about 28 minutes. Knock on loaf when it looks done - if it sounds hollow - it's done (a tip from Cathy Holcomb.) Cool on wire rack.
This is delicious. My kids could eat nothing but this with butter for days when it's fresh. It also makes wonderful french toast when it's not so fresh. (mix egg, 1/2 & 1/2 or milk, vanilla, a splash of oj. Soak slightly stale slices of challah and grill until golden brown.)