I love baking challah. When I taught 3-year-olds, I baked it with them every week. That made me an expert on kneading the dough by hand and knowing what it should feel like before setting it aside to rise. I still occasionally baked challah, in big batches and small ones, and always by hand.
Last year I got one of the greatest presents ever for my birthday: a Bosch Universal Plus mixer! It is THE ultimate kitchen toy for bread making. Just throw the wet ingredients in the bowl, top with flour, and mix. There was a bit of a learning curve using a machine vs. my hands to make the dough. I never knew how long to mix and stopped the mixer every few seconds till I thought it felt right. I actually still do that sometimes, since bread baking is different based on the weather, your mood, and just about anything. Continue reading