It’s been a year of BREADSTUFFS, as I like to say, with more bread baking than ever before during this pandemic. And I’m not sorry about it — we need all this bread to get through a tough year. If you’ve been doing as much bread baking as I have, may I suggest giving yourself a bread machine to pursue more efficiently these palliative endeavors. Two years ago, I purchased a Zojirushi machine for around $140 and since then have enjoyed countless loaves, rolls, and other crusty carbs. Consult this handy guide for selecting the best machine for you if you’re not sure.
Here’s the best thing: a bread machine makes so much more than bread. Recently, I have been exploring my machine’s versatility when it comes to Jewish carbohydrates. Here are some of my favorite Jewish non-bread bread machine recipes.
Yes, your bread machine can help you make respectable challah that won’t make your bubbe roll over in her grave (or roll her eyes if she’s above ground). This recipe is simple and works in a variety of different machines, though you may have to adjust the amount of water depending on how spongy you like your bread. I also adore this recipe from Diana’s Desserts, which produces a very eggy, slightly sweeter loaf. For a fun spin on classic challah, make your machine do the dough work for this apple-honey challah, then recruit the kiddos to do the braiding. Pro-tip: with these and other recipes for challah, always remember to add the ingredients to the machine in the exact order in which they are specified.
If you’re craving more twisted carbohydrates, your machine can also help you churn out babka by doing the work of a stand mixer. This delightful chocolate babka is tailored specifically for a bread machine: simply add the ingredients for the brioche to the pan and hit the “dough” setting. Those who consider chocolate to be in fact a “lesser babka,” should try this recipe for cinnamon babka made in a bread machine, which also includes tips for storage and braiding.
Or, as I like to call them, sweet, fried bagels. Whipping up a baker’s dozen using your machine is easy, especially with this recipe that comes with photographic instructions. No donut cutter in your kitchen? You can use a round cookie cutter or even the rim of a drinking glass.
Though their signature shape was originally inspired by the Christian cross, Jews have made significant contributions to the development of the pretzel. I very much approve of the Happy Housewife’s directions for making oversized soft pretzels, with one modification: sprinkle everything bagel seasoning rather than just salt on those puppies.
Now that your pantry is stocked, it’s time to make something to spread on those breads! If homemade preserves are your jam, see if your appliance has a “jelly” setting. Yes, making jam in a bread machine is a thing, and I suggest you test a new flavor: pomegranate. Steve Nubie’s detailed recipe for pomegranate jam is easy for beginners, requires just three ingredients, and should be a larder staple year-round (though particularly fitting at Rosh Hashanah). He includes resources for where to buy liquid fruit pectin (absolutely essential to create that “jelly-like” consistency) and instructions with regards to how to sterilize your jars.
The aforementioned are just a few of the stellar starches you can produce with your bread machine. Once you feel more comfortable, try cinnamon rolls or (gasp) even bagels.