Bread in a Bag

Scrolling through Facebook the other day, I came across a post about “Challah in a Bag” – a recipe for Challah prepared in a gallon-sized plastic bag (no mixer, no machines).

The post link led me to “The Lazy Cook’s Challah In A Bag Recipe Is So Easy And Delicious” on a site called JStory (a food blog written by “a group of millennial Jews who love being Jewish. [They] come from different countries, [and] grew up eating different foods and telling different stories…”).

Here is the video from their site:

I am so used to making bread by mixing and kneading (either with a mixer or by hand). I was doubtful that the recipe would be any good – largely because I am a bread snob. So, I set to work. Which is a funny phrase, because it was no work at all. I think it may have taken all of 10 minutes to mix the ingredients (compared to the usual 30 minutes for typical yeast bread recipes).

My wife and I had the same impression of the finished loaf: if you have never made bread before – and have never thought yourself capable of such feats – you will be suitably impressed with yourself. The recipe delivers a decent plain white challah loaf with a chewy crumb and pleasing appearance. It is decent because it is in fact so plain. This is exactly why my 13-year old son loves it. I mean, he went to town. It’s like we don’t feed him or something.

The recipe is worth a shot if you are pressed for time or don’t want a messy kitchen to clean afterward. I was also thinking that you could prepare the dough to bring with you to a family gathering for example. Prepare the recipe at home, but bake it at the gathering.

Ingredients (1 challah)

1 tablespoon yeast
1 cup warm water (I used 110 degree water)
3 tablesoons sugar
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/3 cup canola oil
3 cups all-purpose flour + 1/4 cup
1 egg for eggwash (substitute olive oil for vegan challah)
Sesame seeds for topping

Please see the JStory website for the original recipe instructions. The instructions below are modified based on the experience I had making the recipe:

Preparation

1. In a 1-gallon plastic ziplock bag, add the yeast and the water and let sit a minute or two (to soften the yeast).

2. Add the sugar, salt, oil and 3 cups of flour.

3. Massage the ingredients together until uniformly mixed.

4. Place the bag in a bowl of warm water for 30 mins.

5. Remove from bowl, massage lightly, release air from bag, and place on the table for 1 hour. Flip bag every 20 mins. The dough should be very wet. It will start to bubble.

6. After the 1 hour, add 1/4 cup flour and give the bag a few “shake-n-bake” style shakes to cover the dough in flour. This makes the dough not stick to the bag.

7. Leave the bag for 1 hour and 30 mins to rise. It should still be a moist dough. If it’s not rising, flip it over and knock it down. If the dough is moist, the recipe will turn out amazing.

8. Preheat oven to 300F/150C.

9. On a well-floured surface, separate the dough into three pieces and stretch each into a strand. Braid.

10. Place on a parchment sheet lined (or well-greased) baking sheet.

11. Lightly beat the egg and brush onto the loaf – try not to let the egg drip near the base of the dough. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Leave to rise for 15 minutes before it goes in the oven.

12. Bake for 40 mins or until golden on top and the internal temperature of the loaf reaches 190F degrees.

Mark Oppenneer

Mark pretends to be many things.