Last week I thought I would try to throw the ingredients for a small batch of challah (egg bread) in my food processor and try to get some fresh bread with minimal time and effort. It worked. This week I added onions and it was awesome! I want to thank my dad for cutting up the onions. Sometimes my eyes burn all day. At home my father wears goggles when cutting onions. I stick a spoon in my mouth. Can you share any tricks for keeping onions from burning your eyes?
Add to a food processor or mixer of choice:
1 tablespoon dry active yeast
2 cups (0.5 liters) of warm or room temperature water
1/2 cup (65 grams) your choice of honey and/or sugar, more if you like it sweet (I used about 2 parts sugar and 1 part honey.)
2 teaspoons salt
Almost 1/2 cup (0.1 liters) total oil and margarine. You can use less, but using at least a full tablespoon each of margarine and oil makes great challah. Feel free to use olive oil.
Briefly mix with a regular blade, or dough blade, if you have one.
Measure 7 cups (1.7 liters) of flour and add as much as comfortably fits in your food processor. Mix on slow for a few seconds after the mixture looks homogeneous. (Save the rest of the flour until after the dough rests.)
Dump into a large, lightly greased bowl, and let rest. If you used a very small mixer, add more flour after you move to the bigger bowl. You want a very loose dough at this point. A little thicker than muffin batter. My son actually reminded me at this point that the dough needed to rest. When my husband tried to peak, my son told him that the dough was taking a nap. You can let the dough rest while you buy groceries, clean the house, or cook other food. If you're short on time, try this:
Before you start mixing the dough, put a large oven safe bowl or pan with water in the bottom of your oven. Turn the oven on high. When the water is hot, turn off the oven. Dip a tea towel in the hot water and ring out, then cover the dough bowl with the towel, so it doesn't actually touch the dough. Put the bowl in the oven (with the bowl of water) when the oven is warm and cozy, but not hot enough to cook the dough or melt a plastic bowl. With this method the dough will be ready for the next stage n 10-30 minutes.
This is a good time to chop and fry your onions. Two red onions would be my preference. Optional: Mix in poppy seeds.
When the dough looks bubbly and "well rested" (bigger), add more flour. Use enough flour for the dough to be a cohesive mass that you can lift and stretch. It does not need to be firm or dry enough to braid. We are aiming for speed and flavor, not beauty, here. Time permitting, you can let the dough rest again. It will rise to about double in size. Unless you are doubling the recipe, you do not need to "separate challah" for this amount of flour.
Grease two loaf pans and some muffin tins or a baking sheet. I like olive oil for this. Begin by stretching dough about 1/2 to 1 inch thick in the bottom of the loaf pans. Add lots of onions, but stay away from the edges. Add another layer of dough and work it into the bottom layer. Do not fill the loaf pan. If you still have a lot of extra room, add another layer of onions and dough. Top with more onions, egg wash, and poppy or sesame seeds (optional).
If you have dough left over, make rolls. Stretch small balls of dough in a circle like a tiny pizza, fill with onions, and fold closed. Put in muffin tins or on a baking sheet and top like the loafs.
Bake at 350 F or 175 C until golden brown. If you have a convection fan in your oven, now is the time to use it.
This method/recipe will also work without onions.
You might also like: Challah Basics
UPDATE Dec. 20, 2010: Yesterday morning I whipped together half a batch of the above recipe. The whole thing fit in my food processor and I didn't do any additional kneading. The dough rested in my warm with a hot towel on top while I chopped and fried one onion. I added lots of poppy seeds straight to the pan with the onion. Half a batch and one onion made 15 mini rolls, which I baked in a silicon muffin "tin." I filled the dough full of onoins and used the extra onions to generously top the rolls before glazing in egg wash and baking just below 350 F or 175 C. MY CONCLUSIONS: more filling is better; poppy seeds are awesome; I preffer red onoins.