Creating a wedding registry is like making a vision board, shopping and planning for a distant future. Steve and I spent many Saturdays playing grown up as we pored over different China patterns; debating whether we would become understated yet fancy entertainers with ivory settings trimmed with gold or more casual with a floral pattern. Adding a bread machine to the list was an afterthought, a throw-in to feed our guests fresh bread for breakfast in our Hamptons cottage.
As the China arrived, we carefully stored it away, setting by setting, preserving it for more formal days. The bread machine we put to use immediately. We baked French loaves, whole wheat loaves, and even chocolate loaves. The bread was a little tough with a slightly chewy crust, but still very fun hot out of the machine. We used that machine so much that my husband earned the nickname dough boy at work. We were like kids with a new toy, until we got excited about another gadget, and put away our massive white bread machine.
We debated throwing away the bread machine every time we moved, first from our New York City apartment to a New Jersey exile, then further, to Ohio and to Chicago. But each time, we sentimentally chose to hang on to the bread machine. We loaded it into moving trucks three times with a growing layer of dust and grime.
Last week, the bread machine was put back into action, and is once again in a place of honor in the kitchen. One of our good friends, Genevieve, makes an award winning loaf of challah bread. It’s fluffy, sweet, and golden brown. There are never any slices left over when she brings one for dinner. I begged her for her secret recipe and she insisted that using the bread maker to knead and proof the dough was her secret weapon.
Genevieve didn’t lie. Her recipe is incredibly easy and incredibly delicious. I’ve tried to make challah before, always with dismal results. But with Genevieve’s recipe, we simply throw five ingredients into the bread maker and wait a little over an hour to braid the dough. As the challah bakes, it fills the house with the most delicious smell. And the end result is even more amazing than the smell.
The dough boy I was engaged to is back. He’s filling the house with the comforting smell of baking bread all weekend long. The bread is so good that I’m tempted to retrieve our dusty China from its wrapping to serve it, but somehow, I still don’t feel quite grown up enough.
- ¾ cup water
- 2 large eggs
- 3 Tbsp butter, cut up
- 1¼ tsp salt
- 3 cups bread flour
- 4 Tbsp sugar
- 2 tsp bread machine yeast
- Place water, eggs, butter, salt, bread flour, sugar and yeast in the bread machine, in the order listed, with the yeast as the final ingredient.
- Press the dough cycle button (on our machine, we select knead and rise cycles totalling an hour and 40 minutes).
- When the dough cycle is done (a little over an hour), remove the dough from the machine. If it is a little sticky, add a little flour to make it easier to handle.
- Now comes the edible playdough fun. Divide dough into three equal balls. Roll each ball into a 10 inch ropes. No need to get your ruler out. It's more important that the strands are equal lengths.
- Braid together and firmly tuck ends under loaf.
- Place on silpat mat or lightly greased cookie sheet.
- Let stand for about 15 minutes for second rise.
- Beat one egg and brush onto dough.
- Bake at 375F for 28-30 minutes.
- If you can control yourself from tearing large chunks of the hot bread and eating it right out of the oven, allow to cool on cooling rack so bottom does not get soggy.