Easy Challah Thanks to a Forgotten Bread Machine

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.

Challah BraidGenevieve 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.

 

Bread Machine Challah
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Challah used to be a mystery to me, a skill my mother in law could not pass on to me, until I discovered this bread machine shortcut.
Serves: 1 loaf
Ingredients
  • 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
Instructions
  1. 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.
  2. Press the dough cycle button (on our machine, we select knead and rise cycles totalling an hour and 40 minutes).
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Braid together and firmly tuck ends under loaf.
  6. Place on silpat mat or lightly greased cookie sheet.
  7. Let stand for about 15 minutes for second rise.
  8. Beat one egg and brush onto dough.
  9. Bake at 375F for 28-30 minutes.
  10. 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.

36 Responses to Easy Challah Thanks to a Forgotten Bread Machine

  1. […] excellent recipes. The breadman bread machine is easily the best bread maker machine, in my opinion.The intoxication give an impression of bread simply being fresh baked is a thing can t reject. For m…You need to get into gear run to a shop together with returning so that you can have fresh new […]

    • Thanks Mary! You should have seen the layer of dust when we dug it out of the way back of our garage! Sometimes it pays to be a hoarder. 🙂

  2. The recipe is excellent. I made it and everybody were exited. The taste is wonderful. Thank you.
    It is very important to have very good bread maker machine and I am sure you can find them visiting http:/www.indoorgrillcooker.com.

  3. […] Now our household knows butter. I collect butter like other women buy shoes. Kerrigold unsalted butter for my brownies. Organic store brand supermarket butter to throw into the kids buttered elbow noodles. Truffle butter to make steaks hot off the grill even more memorable. And salted Le President butter to go in and on breakfast challah. […]

  4. […] We held the third Chicago Food Swap last weekend at the Savory Spice Shop in Hinsdale and it was our biggest swap yet. Word is spreading about how fun it is to swap, and we actually had to have a wait list for this event. Some people drove over an hour to attend and went home happy, their cars filled with fun jams, baked goods, and even heirloom plants! I brought some homemade fudge sauce as well as individual challah loaves. […]

  5. My grandma used to make this every Christmas and I was always afraid to make it myself (it looked way to complicated) so thank you for this very easy recipe! She also would put in almonds and candied fruit, any ideas on how I could add them to this recipe?

    • Sara,
      I would fold the almonds and candied fruit right into the batter when you start making the bread. Let it rise with the bread or it would be too hard to incorporate later on. I’ve folded in chocolate chips and raisins at the beginning of the dough making before and everything has still risen just fine.

      I love the idea of folding in candied fruits. So pretty!

  6. This bread looks wonderful! What temperature was the water you used? And when you specify bread machine yeast, do you mean instant/quick rise/rapid rise?

    Can’t wait to get baking!

    • Marni,
      We use room temperature water, from the tap. And as for the yeast, we use quick rise yeast for bread machines. Red Star is the brand currently in my fridge, but I’ve used Fleischer’s as well. I find that my yeast goes bad long before the expiration date, meaning that the bread doesn’t fully rise when the yeast has been in the fridge for more than 3 weeks. When in doubt, grab yourself a new can, or use the one time use bags. Enjoy and let me know if you have any other questions.

      Vanessa

      • I’ve made this twice in the last two days and am in love with it! Followed your instructions for the first and ate nearly half the loaf immediately. Made the second using warmer water and got a little better rise. Can’t wait to show it off tomorrow at Easter dinner. Next time I’m going to attempt knotted rolls. Thanks for the inspiration!

        Just in time for a midwestern spring!

      • I buy my yeast in a jar… I keep it in the freezer even after it has been opened. It stays fresh right up till the expiration date. Be sure to put the measured amount on the counter till it is not chilly, just a few minutes, and return the jar to the freezer. Works great, never had a problem, and a big money saver, and you never run out !!!!! I also keep packaged ones in small quantities.

  7. I love this bread. When I’ve run out of time to make a pie for someone I make this. Everyone loves to know that they’re being thought of and to say, “I was thinking of you today and made you some bread” is the universal language for “I Love You!”
    Through all the changes in the world today, let’s not forget to be neighborly…it means so much.
    Thank you for sharing this recipe with us.

  8. Total disaster. The first time I used 200ml of water instead of 185mls and it came out of the machine sloppy.
    The next time I followed the instructions exactly and it was still sloppy.
    The third time… are you kidding? There was no third time

    • Mervyn,
      3/4 cups of water is 177 milliliters. I have made this recipe close to a hundred times, and while it varies with the dampness of the weather, I have never had soupy dough. Always dust the cutting board with flour and coat your hands with flour before splitting and braiding the dough to make sure it doesn’t stick.

      Vanessa

  9. Any thoughts on using at least some whole wheat flour in the recipe? My kids love this challah but would like to add a little more wheat flour to it. Great recipe -I’ve made it several times and always comes out great!

    • Rachel,
      So glad you like the recipe. It’s a staple in our house.

      My kids would crucify me if I tried to substitute whole wheat flour, so I haven’t experimented much with it. However, from reading on the web, my suggestion would be to substitute the 3 cups of all purpose flour to 2 1/4 cups of whole wheat flour and increase the water to 1 full cup. Good luck!

      • To report back- made it with 1/2 cup what flour and the rest bread flour – and my super picky kids loved it. Not quite as fluffy but still yummy!

        • Thanks for letting me know Rachel! I’ll have to play around with whole wheat flour. Maybe my kids won’t even notice!

  10. Hi Vanessa,
    I recently found through genetic testing that I am Jewish. Being non-religious, I’ve been cooking Jewish recipes in order to investigate my newfound culture. I was invited to my first Shabbat dinner last Friday and volunteered to bring the Challah. I used your recipe for Easy Challah, and got rave reviews! It will be the recipe I will use forever. Thank you!

  11. Hello

    I am so grateful & pleased by the outcome of this Challah Bread. This is my husband favorite bread and could not find it everywhere in town.

    My daughter who is 3 years old helped me pour the ingredients in the bread machine. She watched in amazement the bread kneading in the machine and me braiding it. She loved each step; watching it rise in the oven,seeing it cool off and of course the grand moment tasting it! It was approved;” delicious Mama” she said “its perfect Papa will be happy”.

    Later that day, part of the bread was missing but my daughter and I were so proud to show Papa what we made and he loved it.

    Thank you for this recipe that will stay in our family for many years to come. Eventually my son (7 months old now) will taste it. Who knows maybe my kids will make this recipe on their own one day. 🙂

  12. Delicious!! I put the yeast in the 1/2 cup of warm water with a tsp. of sugar. I let it sit while I was putting the other ingredients in the mixing bowl. I then added the yeast mixture to the bowl and mixed it all together. I live at 7000 ft. I baked the challah at 375 degrees for 35 minutes. My family loved it!

  13. Nice recipes, these days, I fall in love in making bread using bread machine, it is very wonderful, my family also loves the bread I make, thanks for your tips, I want to try it out.

  14. I am thrilled to say that I have made this recipe twice and it is delicious. I have tried dozens of other challah recipes and none as good as this one. I have added 2 Tbsp of honey to make it a little bit more “bakery like”. Absolutely fantastic, I’m so grateful to this recipe, we will now on make our own challah for shabbath!

  15. I’ve been looking around for no knead bread recipes this afternoon and found this page. I know you said kneading was they key so this isn’t exactly what I was looking for but I appreciate a good looking bit of fresh bread when I see it. The color is incredible and I bet it tastes great. I’m almost curious though, with color that deep is this how it comes out all the time or is it on the verge of being over cooked?

  16. I make this challah every Friday! After the egg wash, I sometimes sprinkle on coarse kosher salt, caraway, poppy, and sesame seeds to make an “everything” challah. Or I add raisins and omit the toppings. Any way I make it, it comes out great! Thank you for this wonderful recipe ( and sorry for taking so long to comment!)

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