Monday, May 16, 2011


I hope this has not inconvenienced anyone.

Recipe additions September 15, 2013
They will be in blue.
Through the years people have oohed and aah ed over my bread making.   I told them baking was easy.  They always replied back, "Yes if you have been doing it forever."  I remember the first loaf of bread I made.  It was heavy but it was edible.  It didn't rise properly. 

I didn't have anything but a "Joy of Cooking" Cookbook (no Internet in 1963).  It was and still is my encyclopedia for the kitchen.  Now I run to the Internet and if my hands are too dirty I cursively wipe them and open my "Joy".   My first "Joy" which I received at my wedding shower (in June it will be 48 years).  It is cover less and the index is gone.  It's pages are turning brown with the grease that's gotten on it over the years.

My mother baked yeast rolls occasionally, but usually I wasn't  around. I had no concept of yeast dough baking.  It was baptism by fire the first time I baked bread.

Making the bread today and taking the pictures was quite an ordeal.  Every time I needed to take a picture I had grimy hands.  I did accomplish the task and I hope I will be able to convey the procedure to you so you will be able to surprise everyone with a loaf of bread.

Things you will need
I never realized how many items I used in the making of the challah.  It's not this bad, because you don't need everything displayed all at once.  You use most of the dishes over again, not just once.


NOTE:  THIS RECIPE IS NOT CONSIDERED KOSHER UNLESS IT WILL ONLY BE USED FOR MILK MEALS.  I USE MILK IN IT BECAUSE IT SEEMS TO KEEP THE CHALLAH AND ROLLS FRESHER LONGER.  We are not Kosher. (You can make the recipe kosher for any meal by substituting water and oil for the milk and butter)
3 TABLESPOONS YEAST, I use bulk yeast from Sam's club (or Two packages yeast)  The bulk yeast from Sam's is in two vacuum packed packages.  It seems like a lot but if you make bread regularly it will save a lot of money.  If the packages are unopened they keep indefinitely.  Once opened you need to refrigerate the yeast.  I use a quart canning jar.  It has a lid which seals tight.  I have room in it to put my table spoon so it will be handy when I open the jar. Once opened I have had it stay fresh for at least a year.

1/2 CUP UNSALTED BUTTER (substitute with a kosher vegetable oil)

12 TABLESPOONS OF SUGAR  (If you don't wish to count, it is a shy cup of sugar)

2 TEASPOONS SALT (recently I have been using 2 1/2 teaspoons salt, the bread seems more flavorful to me, and there has been no change in the texture).


1 CUP WHOLE MILK (If you are kosher use water instead.)

7 EGGS  Recently it occurred to me eggs are different sizes (which raising chickens I know! but hadn't thought about it when conveying instructions to others.)  I started measuring my eggs to see how many it took to come out with great bread.   No matter what size you use, you will need 1 cup of eggs.  

10 CUPS BREAD FLOUR You may only need 9.  All purpose flour works, but I think I get better texture with bread flour.

PROOFING THE YEAST:Warm the water (I use the microwave). Use a 2 cup measuring cup, you will need the room.   The water should feel warm when you stick your finger in it.  Stir in the 2 teaspoons sugar till dissolved.  Check and make sure the water is still nice and warm.  Use a fork to stir in the yeast.  Do it quickly.  If it clumps on the fork scrape it off and drop it into the water.  It will look like this.

Set it in a warm place to "PROOF".  Proofing is where the yeast grows.  (If it doesn't grow and bubble then your yeast is dead and your bread won't rise.) If your yeast doesn't grow then throw it out and start over.  It could have been your water was too  hot and killed it, or it could have been out of date.  It takes less than 10 minutes for yeast to proof. While you are waiting, fix the first of your ingredients in the mixing bowl. 
This is what the yeast will look like when it's ready to add to your mixing bowl.

Put the salt, room temperature butter (oil), and 12 tablespoons sugar in the mixing bowl.  Heat the milk in the microwave to extremely hot (if you are using water heat both cups nicely warm, not hot).  Pour the hot milk over the contents in the mixing bowl. Mix on slow until the sugar and salt are dissolved and the butter melted.  Take the room temp water and mix in with the contents of the bowl.  Feel the outside of the bowl and if the contents are nicely warm it is time to add the eggs (with a fork lightly beat eggs before adding). (Keep a watch on the yeast make sure it doesn't grow out of your cup.)  If it looks like it is growing too fast for how you are moving, It is okay to add it now if the temperature of the contents of the mixing bowl are not too warm.
The following is what I used for 7 eggs but if you don't want to save the eggs whites you can just measure the eggs till you have a cup of eggs.  (I use the whites to make coconut macaroons.  The recipe is posted at the end of this blog). You don't need the measuring cup, you just need a vessel large enough to break all the eggs into.  The small jar with the lid is for 3 egg whites.  Separate 3 eggs, putting the whites in a small container to refrigerate. (using extra yolk makes a yellower dough and since I don't use saffron this is nice.  I haven't noticed a difference in texture when I use extra yolks.)  To the three yolks (which I put in the measuring cup) add the 4 whole eggs and give them a cursory scramble.  Mix these with the contents of the mixing bowl.  It's time to add the yeast mixture to the mixing bowl and to start adding the first of 6 cups of flour.  Use the beater bar not the dough hook for this.
(This can all be done in a bowl with a wooden spoon but it does use a lot of arm power.  A regular mixer, which doesn't have a dough hook, will admirably handle this task.)

In re-reading my blog I read something which might be misunderstood by new bakers.  The ingredient list has on it 10 cups of flour and the instructions only speak of using 9 cups of flour.  Ten cups is an approximate.  With humidity levels different in different parts of the United States (and the world) the moisture content of flour varies.  I have never had to use more than the 9 cups.  This includes the flour to sprinkle the board when I am kneading.
This is what your dough will look like after the addition of 6 cups of flour
If it is not this thick add another half cup.

Change to your dough hook.  If you do not have a dough hook, don't fret.  Place a cup of flour on your clean cabinet top (spread it out in a thin layer.)  Take a rubber spatula, scrap the bowl contents out on the cabinet top.  Another tool which is very helpful but not necessary, it is the "Bench Scraper".  substitutes for a bench scraper are your rubber spatula and a pancake turner (metal skillet spatula).   At this point your dough is going to be very wet because you have only been able to incorporate 6 cups of flour.  Kneading is not even an option but you can take your bench scraper and start scraping the loose dough up off the counter and folding it over.  Sprinkle the counter top with more flour (on the side you are going to fold to.)   As you scrape and fold, in sort of kneading movements, incorporate another cup of flour into the dough.  You should have used about 8 cups of flour at this point.   Now you should have a dough with enough consistency about it you can start kneading it.  Those instructions are below, where is says "Add the 9th cup of flour".
Add two more cups of flour gradually with the dough hook.  This is what the dough looks like when you have about 8 cups of flour added.   You can finish by machine and not by hand: At this point with your dough hook in, begin with a half cup flour and sprinkle it in as the hook is in motion.  let the machine work until the loose flour is pulled from the sides of the bowl.  Add more flour kneading in with the hook.  When the dough looses it's stickiness and is balled around the hook your dough is finished. 
I do not finish by machine for a couple of reasons.  I can tell with my hands when the dough is absorbed enough flour.  The addition of too much flour will make a heavy dry crumbed bread.  I have done by the machine several times and have not been as pleased with the results.  BTw, you can over knead dough.  When it is over kneaded it goes stale faster.  Why, I wish I knew. Maybe this is something I could google the answer too.  I hadn't thought about it till now.

Spread the 9th cup of flour on your board.

Dump your bowl of dough onto the floured board.
Now begin to knead it.  I will try to describe the process.  Reach  to the far side of the dough with both hands and pull it over itself.  (you have folded it in half.)  Now take the heels of your hands and mash it away from you.  Pick up the dough and turn it 1/4 turn, reaching for the far side again and pushing it with the heels of your hands.  You keep doing this.  If it gets sticky, sprinkle it with flour and continue.  When the dough is no longer sticky and you poke it, it feels like when you poke a woman's mammary gland (I laughed when I heard that description but it truly does, don't forget to close your eyes so you can feel it not see it).  Ever since I learned this, I have no trouble deciding when the dough is ready to set to rise. 

Have a large bowl for it to rise in.  Put 1 TBS of oil in the bowl and swirl it around. Do not wipe out. 
This is the dough ready for the first rise in the oiled bowl.
Drop the rounded side of your dough ball into the oil and rub it around the bowl to grease it and then flip it over.  Now cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put in a warm place to rise.

My cabinets over the stove have mini halogen lights in them.  They get very warm.  I build  a tower with my pedestal cake plates and sit the covered bowl on them.  It's my warm place.
It will take about an hour for your dough to rise and double in size.  If it takes a little longer don't worry, your area may be a little cool for optimal growth, it will just grow slower, it won't do it any harm.While it is growing take this time to get your pans ready and if you are making cinnamon rolls too, then get their ingredients ready.

PUNCHING DOUGH DOWN on the right.  You don't have to beat it to death. Just use your fist to push down and collapse the ball of dough.

Yes I am a fan of Crisco for greasing pans and making pie crust.
IF YOU WANT TO ONLY MAKE CHALLAHS, THIS RECIPE WILL MAKE FOUR 1 POUND LOAVES.  THEY CAN BE MADE TRADITIONALLY ON A SHEET PAN, OR WITH SIDES IN 9X5" LOAF PANS.  You can also make 2 loaves and two of the smaller Bundt pans of cinnamon rolls.  I love my long loaf pans (I think they are for baguettes).  It will make 3 of these pans.  I discovered, when writing this, one of the long loaves fits perfectly in the green refrigerator tubs made by Tupperware in the 70's.  I don't know if they still make them or not.  They were made to store whole celery.
Notice, I am not stingy with the Crisco.  I have found using less causes the dough to stick in the pans
(even if they are in a non-stick pan.)  In this case less is not more, it is just plain less!)

I divide the dough according to what I am using it for.  Today I will be making 2 pans of cinnamon rolls and one Challah.  Two of my dough balls are exactly the same size and the third one is a little bigger.  It will be the challah dough.
TRANSITION OF THE BALL OF DOUGH TO A CHALLAH.  It is rolled into a thick log and then divided into 3 equal pieces.  BTW if the dough is a little sticky you can lightly dust the cabinet top with flour.)
Those three pieces are rolled into "snakes" approximately the length of the pan I will use.
I begin my braid in the middle.  I have found this is easiest for me.
When you get to the end you pinch the dough together and tuck it under.

Beginning in the middle and braiding the other direction.  Notice the ends on the right have been pinched together and folded under.

Sorry, out of focus, with greasy hands it is hard to carefully use a camera.  This is the completed braid.  I wonder if I could plastic bag the camera and get good results.  I will have to try that.  (We keep the TV remotes in a plastic baggie in the kitchen to protect them.  They work just fine in a bag.)
Dough in the pan for the second rising. 
Challah bakers usually put the dough on the sheet pan for this rising.  I use a loaf pan so I can have uniform slices.

This is the loaf  before it is to go in the oven. At this point some challah bakers brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds or poppy seeds.  This loaf is for everyday.  I am skipping the eggs wash because I don't want to have too dark of a crust.

Have your oven preheated to the temp of 400 degrees.  When you put the bread in the oven turn the heat to 375 degrees and bake for 25 minutes (till when you turn it out and knock on the bottom it sounds hollow).  Lately my oven seems to be changing temps.  I don't start it at 400, I start at 375.  My suggestion is start looking at your bread at 20 minutes...tilt out of the pan and see if the bottom is nice and golden and it is hollow sounding.  If not, put back in the oven for 5 minutes more.
Bread just out of the oven.  Have ready some soft butter (not to spread on it and eat it). 
Use the butter to rub all over the crust.  Melted butter and a brush would do it to.  The reason you do this while it's hot is to keep the crust soft.  If you are kosher use a paper towel coated with oil or a nice soft brush with oil.

My finished loaf of Challah
In another blog I will post on the using of the rest of the dough for cinnamon rolls.


Thanks for stopping by.  I hope my explanations were clear. 
If you have any questions about baking please write.  
Baking is a fun and relaxing endeavor.

 New Article on this blog: 
A mystery quilt designed with the novice in mind
First Clue to be presented October 16, 2013.
Other blog sites by me:

Where I have stories of my cats and other pets
a blog about my courtship with my husband,
and a blog about my most embarrassing moment.
A "Soap box" blog where I do air my opinions.

blogs about the wildflowers on our farm
Organic methods we use, some cooking and some poetry,
blogs about Seed sprouting, insects, and garden pictures
Blog about an endangered beneficial beetle
New Blog:

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1 comment:

Irishga said...

I'll be waiting for the cinammon rolls tute. Challah looks good too - in fact i shall wait and do them all together. It will probably be the hotest day of summer, lol. JoAnne