Crock Pot Challah

crock pot challah

Hey, this is Jeff here, writing the intro to Sarah’s beautiful post, photos, and re-cap of our recipe for Crockpot Challah from Holiday and Celebration Bread in Five Minutes a Day.

Challah’s become a familiar American bread, brought here by Jewish immigrants, and round ones like these are traditional on Jewish New Year, which starts Sunday night. In my family (and in Jewish bakeries), the Challah is studded with raisins or other sweet fruit, in the hopes of ringing in a sweet and happy new year. For today’s rather unconventional baking option–in the crockpot–Sarah decided to skip them, to help the crockpot succeed in baking the loaf all the way through. We’ve been putting crockpot options in our books ever since we did the second edition of our basic book (The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day). The craziest part about crockpot baking for us: the crockpot version of our basic French round loaf (boule) was the most popular post ever on this website.

A NOTE ON FLOUR FOR CHALLAH: There’s just one difference between the challah dough in Holiday and Celebration in 5, and the original in The New Artisan Bread in 5, and that’s bread flour. Holiday and Celebration has recipes for some complicated shapes, and the bread flour option gives you a drier, firmer dough that’s a little easier to handle and shape. The original, made with the same amount of all-purpose flour works great in the crockpot too. And if you’re looking for whole grain challah, check out The New Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, or even gluten-free challah, in Gluten-Free Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.

Crock Pot Challah

Challah Dough (makes about 4 loaves)
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water

1 tablespoon Red Star Platinum, Active Dry, or Quick-Rise yeast (1 packet)

1 tablespoons kosher salt (or other coarse salt)

4 large eggs at room temperature, lightly beaten

1/2 cup honey

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

7 cups unbleached bread flour (or all-purpose, see note above)

Mix the yeast, salt, eggs honey and melted butter with the water in a 5-quart bowl, or lidded (not airtight) food container.

Mix in the flour, using a heavy-duty stand mixer (with paddle), a Danish, dough whisk, or a wooden spoon, until all of the flour is incorporated.

Cover (not airtight), and allow to sit at room temperature for about two hours.

The dough can be used immediately after the initial rise, though it is easier to handle when cold. Refrigerate the container and use over the next 5 days.

Three-Strand Challah Crock Pot Braid

On baking day: Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 1-pound piece. Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces. Dust each piece with more flour and quickly shape into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go.

Gently roll and stretch each dough ball, dusting with flour so your hands don’t stick to it, until you have a long rope about 3/4 inch thick, about 15 inches long. You may need to let the dough relax for 5 minutes so it won’t resist your efforts.

crock pot challah

Lay the three ropes side by side and, starting from the middle of the loaf, pull the left strand (rope) over the center strand and lay it down; always pull the outer strands into the middle, never moving what becomes the center strand.

crock pot challah

Now pull the right strand over the center strand. Continue, alternating outer strands, but always pulling into the center. When you get to the end, pinch the strands together.

crock pot challah

Flip the challah over so that the loose strands fan away from you. Start braiding again by pulling an outside strand to the middle, but this time start with the right strand. Braid to the end again, and pinch the strands together.

crock pot challah

Join the two ends to form a circle. Place the braid on a piece of parchment.

crock pot challah

Lower the dough into a 4-quart crock pot. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper use.

Turn the temperature to high and put on the cover. (Not all crock pots behave the same, so you should keep an eye on the loaf after about 45 minutes to make sure it is not over-browning on the bottom or not browning at all. You may need to adjust the time or temperature according to your machine.)

Bake for 1 hour. To check for doneness, it should feel firm when you gently poke the top of the loaf with your finger.

crock pot challah

The bottom crust should be nice and caramel colored, but the top of the loaf will be quite soft and pale. Some folks desire a softer crust, so they’ll love this loaf. You can place the bread under the broiler for 5 minutes or until it is the color you like, with a rack positioned in the middle of the oven. Let the loaf cool completely before serving. This loaf, especially when baked in the crockpot, is sensitive to that–if you eat it warm, it may seem underbaked or gummy.

crock pot challah

Happy New Year!



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6 thoughts on “Crock Pot Challah

  1. Your new healthy breads book (a Christmas gift) and you website both have recipes for crockpots. I haven’t tried that yet, although I have used your artisan book recipes for years with great success.

    Could I put this challah in an Instant Pot instead of a crock pot? I was thinking one could put a cup of water in the bottom, a trivet, and then a small insert pan with the dough in it. But I have no idea how long to set the time. Or whether the pressure would effectively stop the oven spring. Thoughts or suggestions on the amount of time for the instant pot?

    1. Unfortunately, we haven’t tried are breads in an instant pot. My guess is that the steam would be trapped in there and create a soggy loaf.

      1. So, I decided to try it anyway… 40 minutes in an instant pot with a 20 minute natural cool down left a 1 pound (460g) loaf of the healthy breads master recipe with the consistency of a bagel. Shiny, slightly damp crust with a decent crumb that was a touch gummy and a little dense. Nothing soggy at all. I did put it under a broiler set to low for a couple minutes to dry the outside out and brown the crust a little. We tried a couple slices after it cooled for 4 hours. We’ll be using that loaf for french toast tomorrow. It’s edible & taste is ok, but could be better.

        The cook time probably needs to go to 50-55 minutes to make it not gummy, and the rise time definitely needs to to be more than 40 minutes (there was basically no oven spring) – maybe 60 to 70 minutes for fresh unrefrigerated dough instead?

        I also made a couple free form loads in the oven for comparison, baked at 450° on a chunk of 3/8” structural steel seasoned like cast iron. They were, hands down, much better. They also can out nearly perfect, especially the crust.

        The instant pot version also took about 20 minutes longer from cloaking to done cooking, so there’s no time savings either. If you needed bread and only had an instant pot, well, you can make passable bread. That said, it won’t replace oven-baked bread anytime soon.

        I might try this a couple more times to dial in the timing, but that’s more for the know-how than for anything. Our oven will still be cranked on every couple days for fresh bread.

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