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.)
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!