Bread Machine Challah – in case it ever cools down

If you live on the east coast, as I do, baking challah is probably the last thing on your mind. Because we don’t have central air conditioning, I avoid turning on my oven whenever the temperature goes above eighty degrees, and certainly when it hits one hundred. Last week we had a little respite from the summer, and on a cool, breezy summer Friday (do such things really exist?) I finished my evaluation of the numerous bread machine challah recipes that you, my dear readers, sent me. Thanks to a little help from my dog, Zev, I am prepared to declare a winner. (Not that it was a contest, but I did pick a favorite.)

I bought a bread machine for $7 at a thrift store last year. Before having children, and even after having children but before returning to a full time job out of the home, I was an avid bread baker. I poo-poo’d the idea of a bread machine. I thought it was unnecessary and turned out an inferior product.
I still agree that bread made from start to finish in the bread machine is no comparison to a loaf of handmade bread. I’m all about crust, and the crust in the bread machine is never to my liking. (I don’t care for eating rubber.) Also, I prefer bread that looks like bread, not a turban. If all you are looking for is easy bread, this no-knead recipe is a far, far better shortcut. I’m drooling a little just thinking about it. Maybe with a slab of fresh mozzarella….and a home grown tomato….with a drizzle of olive oil…a sprig of basil…But I digress.
The bread machine has become an integral and beloved part of our shabbat preparations. Now that I work until at least 2:30 in Friday, it’s been very hard to bake our own challah. I’ve gotten in the habit of using the machine to prepare the dough while I make and serve dinner on Thursday night, and then braiding and baking the loaves that evening. (If shabbat starts late, sometimes I put the braids in the refrigerator for a slow, overnight rise and bake them Friday afternoon.)
On to my favorite recipe. I should be clear that this is not my favorite challah recipe for  making it the old fashioned way. That challah recipe can be found here. But the recipe that makes the most delicious, easy to work with, and (believe me, this next one is important for a bread machine) consistent loaf of bread is this one. Yes, it’s a lot of yolks, and yes, it’s kind of sweet (go for the brown sugar, by the way) but from my experience, it’s no-fail. I use half whole wheat, half white flour, because I’m just that kind of mama. (You know, the annoying, sanctimonious kind.)
And how did my dog, Zev, help me determine the winning recipe? Not convinced by my last post about the sanctity of eating, my beloved mutt wolfed down half a loaf of this challah before the guests arrived. He is a great dog, and I don’t remember his ever stealing food from the table before. So, I guess it’s that good. (Though I won’t mention some of the things he wolfs down on his walks through the park.)
zev at this.jpg
Thanks, Minnesota Mamalah, the recipe. Go check out her blog, sometime. Her writing is as good as the title.
I’m off to the Cape with my girls to visit ima2seven, whom I’ve never met before. Hope to write about this journey before shabbat. More likely, I’ll write about it after shabbat.
If you live in, say, Alaska, and try the recipe this week, let me know how you like it!
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another Minnesota Mom

posted July 7, 2010 at 10:56 am

I’ve been making the Kosher by Design bread machine challah for months, too, and my husband swears it’s the best he’s ever had. I’ll have to try the brown sugar substitution – I’ve been adding a tablespoon of honey after the first knead in the breadmaker (reducing the water to compensate), along with about 1/2 cup raisins. Sometimes it comes out a little too wet (summer heat and humidity), and I have to knead in a little extra flour, but reducing the water would work, too. I bring the eggs and the yeast to room temperature before starting. I’ve been able to make this during my kids’ afternoon nap on Fridays.

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Jennifer in BreadLand

posted July 7, 2010 at 12:16 pm

It’s NEVER too hot for bread!!! Granted, I’m in Canada, but temps this week are in the high 30’s – that’s the 90’s for those who don’t do Celsius.
Don’t have a bread machine, but I do have a food processor, which works great for small recipes. I also have a no-knead Challah recipe (on my bread blog) which is great. Or, I do the old-fashioned hands-on thing. I knead or mix the dough either on Wednesday or (most often) Thursday night and store it that way because we don’t have fridge space for loaves. Then, I throw it together fast on Friday afternoon, because I’m picky about fresh bread.
BTW, we also make chicken soup year ’round. The secret is doing it overnight – usually on Wednesdays – and then chilling in the fridge until late Friday afternoon.
Thanks for these recipes!

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Minnesota Mamaleh

posted July 7, 2010 at 3:58 pm

thanks for the shout-out amy! i love that even across coasts we’re all making challah in the heat and when it’s via the same recipe? that just makes you want to belt out “it’s a small world” now, doesn’t it?! or at least have the kids do so! :)

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Debi W.

posted July 8, 2010 at 10:53 am

Amy – you should see if your library has Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a day. I was never a bread baker but this method of pre making refrigerated dough and then using what you need has turned me into one. Crust is awesome, the kids devour it.

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