Place 3 cups of the flour in a large mixing bowl, making a well in the middle.
Dissolve the yeast mixed with the 2 tablespoons of the sugar in the warm water.
Pour yeast mixture into the well and add 1 cup of the sugar and the salt. Mix together thoroughly.
Melt 1/2 cup of the butter in the milk, remove it from the heat, and stir in the oil. Add the butter mixture to the flour, a little at a time, alternating with the eggs.
Beat in another 2 or 3 cups of flour (or more if needed) until mixture is not sticky.
On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough for about 10 minutes, or until smooth.
Lightly oil a large bowl, and roll the ball of dough around until all sides are covered with a little oil. Place a kitchen towel over the bowl and let the dough rise in a warm place until it has doubled in size, about 1 hour. Punch the dough down and place on the counter or a pastry board. Cover the dough and let it rest for 10 minutes.
Divide the dough into 4 parts and roll each part out into a rectangle about 12 inches long by 8 inches wide and 1/8-inch thick. Melt the remaining 1/4 cup butter. Brush rectangles with melted butter and sprinkle them with the 1/2 cup sugar mixed with the cinnamon, nuts, raisins, and chocolate chips, if desired.
Roll each rectangle up the long way (like a jelly roll) and place in a greased Bundt or 10 or 12-inch angel food cake pan. Cover with a towel and let dough rise again until doubled in size, 30 to 60 minutes.
Preheat oven to 325°F.
Brush the top of the babka with the egg wash and bake for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.
*The egg mixture gives the babka a crispy crust. For a softer crust use melted butter instead of the egg mixture.
(c) 2002, Reprinted with permission. Sephardic Israeli Cuisine and other Hippocrene cookbooks may be purchased on Amazon.com or at www.hippocrenebooks.com.
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Sheilah Kaufman is the food editor of Jewish Women International's (JWI) website www.jwmag.org and a contributing food editor for The Town Courier, and contributing food writer to Vegetarian Times Magazine and The Washington Post.