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!

Chocolate Nutella Swirl Buns

chocolate nutella swirl buns

We had such a good response to our Chocolate Bread that we decided to make some Nutella swirl buns to go along with it. The no-knead chocolate dough is not overly sweet, and it balances the Nutella and sugar coating quite well. We made them in individual molds, but you can also bake them free form in a 9 x 13 pan if you don’t have them.

You can also try our Crockpot Nutella Swirl Bread (another Bread in 5 favorite!) or our straight up Nutella Swirl Bread (otherwise known as our Babka cheat) if you are in the mood for Chocolate and Hazelnut flavored treats.

chocolate nutella swirl buns

Chocolate Nutella Swirl Buns

2 pounds No-knead Chocolate Dough, chilled

1/2 cup (or more) Nutella

Granulated Sugar

Butter ten 3 x 2-inch soufflé molds, ramekins, or other straight-sided molds (note: you can use regular muffins tins, but you will need to cut the buns smaller; into more pieces. You can also bake them free form in a 9 x 13 pan like traditional cinnamon rolls). Line the bottom of each mold with parchment paper, and then generously coat with granulated sugar, tapping out any excess. Place the molds on a baking sheet.

Using a rolling pin, the dough out to an 1/8-inch-thick rectangle, and then spread the Nutella over the dough (you can use more than 1/2 cup, but I found that less is more here, both for taste and ease of cutting the dough into slices). If your dough is really soft and hard to work with, you can place it (filled and rolled) on a parchment-lined baking sheet and chill for 20-30 minutes before slicing.

Use a kitchen scissors or a sharp knife to cut the dough into 10 equal pieces. Transfer the pieces to the prepared molds and place them cut side up. Cover the pans loosely with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until doubled, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Adjust the oven rack to the middle lower position. Preheat the oven to 350F.

Remove the plastic and bake 18 to 26 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through, until the rolls are set (You can test for doneness by tapping the top, if it feels firm in the center, then it is done).

Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the rolls cool for a few minutes. Use a kitchen towel or oven mitts to pick up each soufflé mold, then run a knife carefully around the edges of the pan, and flip the roll onto a wire rack. Carefully put the roll right side up, and repeat with the remaining rolls. Let cool for a few minutes, then toss each roll into sugar and cover.

Chocolate nutella swirl buns
chocolate nutella swirl buns

Pumpkin Sticky Nut Rolls with Red Star Yeast

Pumpkin Sticky Nut Rolls | Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

Christmas is just around the corner, and this year my sister-in-law volunteered to have the meal at her house, so this means I have some free time leading up the day, in which previous years I have not. (I am on pie duty, which I will take any day over making the meal) Since there will be family in from out of town and friends in and out of my house, I like to make sure there is something to eat each day for breakfast that everyone will enjoy. These Pumpkin Sticky Nut Rolls fit the bill perfectly, and the fact that I can assemble them the night before and let them rise in the fridge overnight is a huge bonus.

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Holiday Star Bread

This fanciful holiday bread made it into our newest book, Holiday and Celebration Bread in Five Minutes a Day, and it is one of the prettiest, easiest and most sensational breads to make for a family gathering or work party.

This Holiday Star Bread has been making the rounds all over social media, so I decided to try it with some of our no-knead Challah dough. I’m happy to report that it works quite well, and it is not that difficult to make. Most of the recipes online have the same directions for shaping the star, so I borrowed from those when practicing, but substituted pumpkin pie spice for the cinnamon just to change things up a bit. We also have a variation with jam, but Nutella or many other fillings would be fun, so if you are interested in playing around with recipe, there is room for your own interpretation. If you do end up making this bread and post on social media, tag #breadin5 so we can see your creations! You can also find us on Instagram at @breadin5.

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Pumpkin Brioche Doughnuts

pumpkin brioche doughnuts

It’s that time of year again: pumpkin in everything! I have to admit I don’t mind the pumpkin-y goodness showing up all over the interwebs; there is something very comforting (once the cold weather hits) about all the cinnamon spice in the air. We decided to update our pumpkin pie brioche recipe just a little, and as we are big fans of doughnuts over here, pumpkin doughnuts, of course, had to happen. If you are not yet in the mood for pumpkin, you can find our regular brioche doughnuts here. And, if you need a gluten-free treat, we have Apple Cider Gluten Free doughnuts here.

Also! Don’t forget you can pre-order our new cookbook, Holiday and Celebration Breads in Five Minutes a Day. You can read all about the book here. The book comes out November 6th, and you can preorder here.

pumpkin brioche doughnuts

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Ham and Cheese Brioche Sandwiches

Ham and Cheese Brioche Sandwiches | Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day

Tiny baked buns filled with ham, cheese, mustard, mayo, honey and covered in poppyseeds – what’s not to love? I came across the idea for these ham and cheese brioche sandwiches while paging through cookbooks, and immediately headed to the kitchen to make them. With all the ham, cheese, mayo, and butter, I wanted to keep the brioche buns on the lighter side, so I used our no-knead challah dough–it’s basically a light brioche. Plus, my family swoons every time I make it. I wasn’t wrong. These buns are delicious, and they are perfect for every occasion. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, baby showers, pool parties, even Father’s Day.

Ham and Cheese Brioche Sandwiches | Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day

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Simple Cinnamon Braid

Bake Cinnamon Braid | Braided Cinnamon Bread Recipe | Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day

Last week I posted a picture of this cinnamon braid (made with our no-knead brioche dough) on Instagram, and had several requests for a recipe. So here it is! It’s basically a cinnamon roll in a prettier package, but it’s fun to make, and would be perfect for a Mother’s Day brunch or just because.

And, as it is National Poetry Month, here is a lovely one involving a kitchen, a ritual, and eating together.

smoothing away time with the fluid line
of your memory
i am in place at your table
in the morning damp of your still dark kitchen
i wait for you to come

stepping through the curtained doorway
you enter intent on this day
restart the fire
fill place the kettle
pull open the kitchen door
inviting daylight to come
welcoming it into your house—
bringing it into mine.

-Kimberly Blaeser, Rituals, Your – and Mine (full poem here)

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Heart Braid

Pink Heart Braid Bread for Valentine's Day | Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

The older I get, the less I am ‘into’ Valentine’s Day, but I have two little kids who still think it is an amazing holiday, so anything red, pink, and heart-shaped is welcomed into our home on February 14. I was scrolling through Instagram last week and came across this lovely heart-shaped challah, and then, remembering Zoe’s pink swirled bread and pink braid, I thought I could combine the two together for some celebration bread. I’m happy to report that it worked! The heart braid bread turned out pretty, and tasted delicious, too.

Pink Heart Braid Bread for Valentine's Day | Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

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Stollen Buns

“I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”
-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I always find myself excited each year about the Holiday season. As a child and young adult, Christmas was always a magical time of year, where I felt safe and secure, and slightly spoiled. My only concern was opening the pile of presents before me, and trying not to overindulge on sweets. Now that I’m an adult, I still feel the same magical feeling in December, but it is intermingled with the knowledge that this time of year isn’t always special and lovely for everyone else. There are many without. There are many who don’t enjoy their families, can’t afford to indulge, are missing loved ones, are feeling hopeless. As I sing along to carols decorate cookies, I wish the magic of Christmas could sweep in and heal all, instead of just bringing temporary forgetfulness for a few weeks. I often get overwhelmed, and then find myself not doing anything. I’ve learned over the years that small and simple is best, and looking around to my neighborhood and immediate community is the best way to help others. So if you are feeling the desire to reach out, a simple way is to bake something (these stollen buns, for example), and share it with those around you. Bringing something to a neighbor you haven’t met (or are frustrated with!) can open the door to conversation, and possibly a relationship. Taking small steps to get to know those near can help in the future make bigger steps when needed, and can bring us a little closer to ‘peace on earth, good-will to men!’

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Pumpkin Spice Monkey Bread

pumpkin spice monkey bread | bread in 5

We’ve had a lovely Autumn here in Minnesota, with warm weather lasting far into October. However, November has brought about a winter chill, and, with it, the desire to head to the kitchen and bake with cinnamon and pumpkin. Often I turn to cinnamon rolls or caramel rolls, but I decided this time around to make Monkey Bread.

Monkey Bread is easy to make. It’s basically a pull-apart cinnamon roll baked in a Bundt or loaf pan. Zoë has posted a standard recipe before, but today I’m doing one made with pumpkin spices: cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves, and topped with a cream cheese icing. It’s the perfect way to celebrate the coming cold.

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