Several (ok, dozens of) years ago, I was lucky enough to receive the perfect Bread Machine Challah recipe From Shari Levy. Over the years I have made it hundreds of times, and given the recipe to dozens of cooks. Over time, I have come to "slightly" prefer making Challah in the kitchenaid stand mixer, based on the resulting product, but in terms of practicality, the old bread machine wins out 95% of the time. You dump in the ingredients, push the "DOUGH" cycle button, and pretty much walk away for 90 minutes.Do check during the first five minutes of the mixing, to make sure that the flour isn't lumping up in the corners of the bowl/pan. Don't be afraid of the paddle, you just need a swipe or two with a wooded spoon.
If you don't have a bread machine ask around, because lots of people have them and don't use them. These people will be thrilled to let you experiment with theirs, provided you offer them a taste of the results. Or find one easily at a Thrift Shop, I have seen brand new ones there. If you see a gently used one, I personally would not be squeamish, but I would wash the baking pan very well.
I never do anything but mix dough in the bread-maker, so don't ask my advice if you are interested in actually baking in it.
In my bread machine, the dough cycle takes 90 minutes, the rise for shaped loaves takes about 60 minutes (use your warming drawer on "proof" setting if you have one). Baking takes 25 minutes on my baking stone.
If you can't do it all in one sitting you have various choices:
1. Make the dough in the machine (or mixer) and take it out immediately and put in an oiled bowl in the fridge to slow the rise. Put a spoonful of oil in a bowl about 2x larger than the dough. Spread oil around the bowl. Put dough in, and turn over so all of the dough is lightly coated in oil. Cover with a cloth napkin, then plastic wrap*. When you are ready to resume, remove from the fridge and allow to rise, then proceed.
2. Let the dough rise, then put it in the oiled bowl in the fridge to slow the rise. When ready to proceed, bring to room temperature, punch down the dough and let it rise again before shaping, rising, and baking.
3. Make the dough, shape the breads, and put, covered with a cloth napkin and plastic wrap* in the refrigerator (or even the freezer) before allowing the loaves to rise.
4. Do everything including rising the loaves, and par-bake for 15 minutes. Remove, freeze if desired, and return to oven for final baking.
Having Troubles? Here is a link to a good article about troubleshooting yeast breads
*The cloth napkin between the bread and the plastic is my way cutting down on the contact our food has with plastic. If you have no plastic issue, it can go right over the bowl.
1 cup warm water
1/3 cup sugar (white or brown)
1/3 cup oil
1 tsp. Salt
3 tsp (1 packet) yeast
1 tsp. vanilla
4 cups of flour
Egg glaze: one egg beaten with splash of water
- Put ingredients into Bread machine in order recommended by manufacturer.
- Set to DOUGH cycle
- Remove from machine
- Set on lightly floured surface
- Cut into 6 equal parts.
- Braid into 2 loaves
PREHEAT OVEN TO 350. USE BAKING STONE IF YOU HAVE ONE
- Set onto parchment paper on baking sheet, or into pam-sprayed glass loaf pans.
- Allow loaves to rise until double. About 45 minutes.
- Paint loaves with egg glaze.
- Bake for about 25 minutes.
For Caraway Salt-- Sprinkle Caraway seeds and coarse sea salt on egg glaze
Whole Wheat Variation: substitute one cup of whole wheat pastry flour for one of the cups of flour, add 1/4 cup of ground flax for extra healthiness.
Cinnamon Bread variation:
Instead of braiding 2 loaves, roll dough out into rough rectangle and sprinkle heavily with cinnamon and brown sugar, using at least one teaspoon of cinnamon and half a cup of brown sugar (can spread with soft butter first if making dairy).
Roll up loaf, tucking in ends well, put in sprayed loaf pan.
Bake as above.
High Holiday Sugar-Crunch variation: (shown in picture)
Cut the dough in half, and shape into a thick rope, tie the rope into a big knot, and sprinkle with a coarse sugar like Sugar in the Raw, Turbinado, or this sparkling white sugar from King Arthur. A touch of cinnamon would probably be good too.
Holding one end of the rope in each hand, just tie it into a simple knot, stretching slightly if necessary. Let rise as usual. Before baking, brush well with egg-water wash or Agave Syrup, or Maple Syrup, and immediately sprinkle more sugar all over the top.
We all hate raisins in, in anything actually, so this is my version of gussied up Challah.
Challah, regular recipe, (not machine)
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup warm water
3 teaspoons yeast
4 cups flour
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup oil
1/2 cup warm water
1 egg yolk, beaten with
1 teaspoon water
sesame seeds or poppy seeds, or any of the variations above.
Preheat oven to 400 F.
- Dissolve 1 teaspoon sugar in 1/2 cup water in bowl of mixer.
- Sprinkle yeast over water and mix,let stand 10 minutes until foamy.
- Add the next 6 ingredients to mixing bowl.
- Mix with dough hook for 6 minutes.
- Dough should be a little sticky.
- Place in oiled bowl, cover and let rise in warm place until double in bulk.
- Punch down dough.
- Let rise until double in bulk.
- Punch down again.
- Divide dough into 3 equal parts.
- Roll dough into three long strands.
- Braid the strands, tucking ends under.
- Cover with towel and let double in bulk.
- Brush with beaten egg yolk.
- Sprinkle with seeds.
- Bake at 400 F for approximately 30 minutes, until golden brown.
- The challah is done when it sounds hollow when thumped on the bottom.