Sunday, December 12, 2010

Easy Awesome Onion Challah

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.
2 eggs

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.


  1. So it looks like you only kneaded it in the processor?

  2. I mixed and stretched it when I mixed in the rest of the flour, but it was pretty minimal.

  3. Don't those look yummy! I've done challot with chopped olives as a filling, but never with fried onions. What I have done with onions is dump about a cupful of dehydrated onions straight into my dough and mix it all together. As the dough rises the onions become softer and by the time you bake the challot and take them out of the oven the dehydrated/rehydrated onions are all soft and yummy and evenly distributed throughout the challot.

    As for my onion chopping solution? Back in 1991 during the Gulf War I one day decided to chop a ton of onions wearing my gas mask. It worked perfectly, not a tear. Let's hope we never have to come to that again, where my gas mask is out of the box and at the ready...

  4. Miriyummy- Amen! Are gas masks more comfortable than goggles?

    The dehydrated onions sounds like a great time saver. My onions were not well distributed, but they added a lot of great flavor and moisture to the challah, that you might not get with dry.

    Have you ever used margarine in challah? I don't always keep it in the house, but I saw it listed as an ingredient on some great bakery challah in Florida, so I started using it when I have some.

  5. Thank you so much for this recipe Yosefa! I've made it twice now...

    A few things... the first time around, I started to cut the onions by hand, but after my first two cuts, I thought to myself - wait, I just finished with and washed out the food processor - so I dumped the onions in the food processor and it took all of 15 seconds to get them chopped, with no tears! (They ended up being chopped much finer than the ones in your picture, but still good). I used only oil (no margarine). I did like you explained with the onions, but after the challah baked and was nice and brown - in the middle of the challah (when slicing it) a little bit of the dough just by the layers of onions was a little uncooked. Maybe it's just my oven or because I didn't use the margarine, I don't know...

    The second time I made it - I did a recipe and a half and I separated the dough into two bowls to rise. To one bowl I added the sauteed onions (before it rose - so they ended up being distributed evenly throughout the challah) and to the other bowl, I added golden raisins and cranberries (my daughter's favorite challah addition since she can then pick them out while eating the challah)! I didn't have any pans to bake the challah in, so I braided each challah - which turned out quite well. With the recipe and a half, I got two pretty good sized braided challahs, one medium size, and several rolls.

    Again - thank you Yosefa for the recipe - it's an excellent recipe - the whole family liked it including my kids - it's really quick and easy to prepare (as you promised) and turns out great! Thank you!

  6. I'm so glad you had success with it! Did you like the onions evenly distributed? I like how the challah seems a little doughy need the onions. It also gives it burse of sweetness and crunchy where the onions are. Did you get any pictures or you braided loafs? Thanks for sharing!



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