Before I was cranking out hundreds of pounds of challah dough a week, I knew nothing of a small kitchen appliance that would soon change my life and help lead me down this doughy journey: the bread maker.
I had always been under the impression that the sole purpose of this machine was to just bake pretty loaves of bread like in the commercials. Little did I know that it was also a magical dough-making machine.
All I had to do was follow the manufacturer’s directions of adding the wet ingredients followed by the dry ones and finally the yeast. Not only would the bread maker prepare the dough by mixing and kneading the ingredients together, it would also provide a warm, controlled environment in which the dough would be allowed to rise. All you need to do is braid, egg wash, and bake it for an hour and a half.
With this newly acquired information, I immediately called a good friend of mine to share the news with her. She asked me if I had been living under a rock. She’d been making challah dough in her bread maker since she’d gotten married a year earlier.
She also shared the most incredible recipe with me. Like most challah recipes, it came from a friend who got it from a friend and so on and so on… What’s incredible about this recipe is that it neither requires 14 or 18 cups of flour nor does it call for a heavy duty professional mixer. It doesn’t even require an amateur one! However, if you do choose to use one, you don’t have to worry about it burning out the motor. Mind. Blown!
Today, these kinds of findings would have been quickly shared online for everyone to see. It’s only been within the last few years that social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter have become so influential and inspirational when it comes to developing and sharing the latest and greatest food trends, especially around the holiday season.
I had already been TGIS Challah for six months when Chanukah rolled around. I knew I wanted to create something original that appealed to both sweet and savory lovers while sticking to the theme of the holiday.
Without steering away from what I had grown accustomed to, yet still incorporating the traditional and festive Chanukah foods, the sweet sufganiya and savory latke challahs came to be. Feel free to personalize it and make it your own. Consider your dough a deliciously edible blank canvas for your challah creations!
Chanukah Challah Two Ways
This recipe can be made in a bread machine, by hand, or using a stand mixer. Always follow the manufacturer’s directions, and use “bread machine” yeast, which can be found in the baking section of your local grocery store.
For the Sweet Sufganiya Challah you will need:
- 1.5 c warm water
- 1 Tbsp + 3/4 tsp active dry yeast or bread machine yeast if using a breadmaker
- 1/2 c granulated white sugar
- 1/2 tbsp or to taste Vanilla Bean paste OR McCormick vanilla butter & nut flavor
- 2 eggs
- 3/8 (6 tbsp) canola oil
- 1/2 tbsp (1.5 tsp) pink Himalayan sea salt or table salt
- 5 c bread flour
- Filling:Strawberry jelly or flavor of your choice.
For the Savory Latke Challah:
- Omit the vanilla bean paste / flavoring
- Replace canola oil with a good quality extra virgin olive oil
- Replace jelly with potato kugel or finely chopped potato latkes
- I also added Gefen frozen, pre-made fried onions into the potato filling. It’s optional, but definitely added some flavor.
- If you are using a bread maker, place ingredients (except for the challah fillings) in order of manufactures instructions. If you are making this by hand or mixer, place water, sugar, and yeast in bowl. Mix lightly for a few seconds, and allow yeast to proof (about 5-10 minutes). You want to ensure your yeast is potent/alive.
- Next add eggs, oil, and mix.
- Add flour one cup at a time and salt. You might find you may need slightly more or slightly less flour than the 5 cups the recipe calls for. That’s ok! You can also add a little extra oil or water if your dough feels dry. If using a mixer, continue to “knead” until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and develops a smooth and silky texture. If kneading by hand, it helps to keep a small bowl of oil or cooking spray nearby to coat or spray your hands. A common mistake people make is adding more flour when they feel the dough is sticky. In fact, it’s not the dough that is sticky, but your hands that are warm, which make the dough feel that way.
- If you find your dough is tough to work with, allow the dough to rest for a few minutes to allow the gluten to relax. Not only will you feel slightly refreshed and relaxed, your dough will too!
- Spray your workspace with non-stick cooking spray or olive oil spray to make your life easier.
- Once the dough is well kneaded, place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Place it in a warm spot and let it rise for at least an hour or two, until it’s doubled in size.
- Next, punch down the dough, and give it once last knead. Now it’s time to divide it up.
- Using a sharp knife separate your dough into evenly sized balls. I find a kitchen scale is a challah saver which yields even, beautiful challahs that look incredible and bake perfectly. I recommend 6.5 oz per ball but it’s up to you.
- Roll out each dough ball into a short snake. Then flatten each snake ever so slightly lengthwise and widthwise with a rolling pin. You want your snake wider rather than longer so it’s able to hold the fillings. I suggest using a pastry bag or cupcake decorating/filling tool for even distribution but a spoon works just as well when adding jelly.
The same rule of thumb goes for the latke challah. Don’t overfill! This will cause the challah to become sunken and soggy. You also don’t want to overfill the strand because it will be difficult to seal up.
- Bring up both sides of the strand and pinch together to seal and roll gently on counter to hide the seal. Continue with the remaining strands and shape/braid as you wish.
- Place on parchment lined baking sheet or in a sprayed loaf or challah pan.
- Allow to rise approx 20-30 minutes while preheating your oven to 350°F.
- Meanwhile, beat 2 eggs with a teaspoon (or more) of honey or sugar, and mix well.
- Using a pastry brush, brush egg mixture over challah.
- For the Sufganiya challah, sprinkle on some sugar in the raw or Swedish pearl sugar.
- For latke challah, you can add some shredded potatoes and a sprinkle of coarse sea salt or even truffle salt.
- Bake 25 minutes before checking on your challahs.
- Rotate pans and continue to bake another 10 minutes.
- You can tell the challah is fully baked by checking the bottom. It should sound hollow when tapped and be golden brown. The top should also be slightly firm without any soft spots.
- Remove from oven and cool slightly before transferring to a wire cooling rack. Once challahs are cool, slice and enjoy! A light (or heavy) dusting of confectioners sugar on top of the sufganiya challah really takes it over the top.
That’s it! If you have your own Chanukah challah ideas, less us know in the comments. And if you try these out, be sure to tag us @kosherdotcom and @naomiTGIS! Happy Chanukah baking!