The Fresh Loaf

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Hand Tossed Bread Dough

Bill and Annie's picture
Bill and Annie

Hand Tossed Bread Dough

I have recently moved out of state and I am living without my Kitchen-Aid mixer. I just have to make bread so I would like to get some advice about mixing and kneading dough by hand. My hands aren't exactly as strong as they used to be but I want to give it a try.

I am a big fan of challah bread so if someone has an easy but good and rich recipe I would really appreciate the help.

Ford's picture

Here is my recipe.  Though it calls for a mixer, I have no doubt it can be done all by hand, even by me and I am 89 years old.  Use a whisk for the eggs and oil, and a wooden spoon or other large mixing tool for the rest.

Enjoy, Ford

Challah, Braided 




3/4 cup (6 oz., 170 g) warm water (100°F to 120°F)

2 packages (0.5 oz., 14 g) active dry yeast

1 Tbs. (0.3 oz., 8 g) flour

2 tspn. (0.3 oz., 9 g) sugar



Place ingredients in a jar; mix to dissolve the yeast; and let stand in warm place for 10 to 20 minutes.  Do not use a tight fitting lid; pressure generated may explode jar!




5 large eggs (10 oz., 283 g) at room temperature

1/4 cup (2 oz., 57 g) peanut oil

1/2 cup (3.5 oz., 99 g) sugar

4 tspn. (1 oz., 28 g) honey

2 Tbs. (1 oz.. 28 g) salt (Kosher)

1 1/2 cup (12.4 oz., 353 g) medium hot water (120°F to 130°F)

10 1/2 cup (44.6 oz., 1,265 g) bread flour, more flour is required if extra large or jumbo eggs are used

1 Tbs. (0.5 oz., 14 g) peanut oil  (or corn oil)



Place eggs in warm bowl of electric mixer and beat while gradually adding the oil.  Add sponge, salt, honey, and sugar and continue beating.  Add hot water and continue beating.  Beat in 4 cup of flour.  Change to bread hook and mix in 5 cup of the remaining flour.  Knead in the mixer for about 8 to 10 minutes.  Dough will be soft.  Transfer to a well-floured board and knead in another cup or so of flour.  Transfer to large bowl that has been oiled with the 1 tablespoon of oil.  Turn to cover with the oil.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place until double, about 2 hours.  Degas and let rise a second time until double in volume, about 3/4 hour.  Turn out dough on to a well-floured board and, if necessary, knead in sufficient additional flour to make a soft, but workable dough.  Let dough rest for 10 minutes.


Form loaf and bake


solid vegetable shortening for greasing baking sheet

cornmeal for dusting baking sheet

1 egg (2 oz., 57 g(

2 Tbs. (0.8 oz., 24 g) sugar

1 Tbs. (0.6 oz., 18 g) charnitchka  (black caraway seed), sesame seeds, or poppy seeds optional



While dough is resting, grease a large baking sheet well with the shortening and dust with the cornmeal.  Halve the dough and reserve half.  Divide dough into three equal pieces.  Roll each piece to a length of about 20 inches and 11/2 to 2 inches in diameter.  Form an “X” with two pieces then place the middle of the third at the crossing.  Braid from the middle out to one end.  Pinch the ends together and tuck them under the loaf.  Repeat on the other side.  By staring in the middle and braiding outward the loaf will be thicker in the middle.  Divide, roll, and braid the reserved dough in like manner.

Transfer the loaves carefully to the prepared baking sheet.  Combine the egg and the sugar, then brush the loaves with this mixture.  Sprinkle with charnitchka, and let rise uncovered in a warm place for about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375°F Bake loaves for 40 minutes or until they are a deep golden yellow and 195 to 205°F.  Check loaves after 25 minutes, if they brown too quickly, cover them with aluminum foil.  Transfer the loaves immediately to racks for cooling.

Makes two 18" x 4.5" x 3" loaves weighing about 2 lb. 7 oz (1.1 kg) each.

Adapted Maxine Levy, Gourmet, September 1988, Baking Challah, pp 80, 81, 164, & 166.



breadman1015's picture

Here's my formula for a No-Knead Challah

No-Knead Challah
(3 loaves)

            33                 oz.                      Flour
            1                   Tbs.                    Salt
            1-1/2             Tbs.                   Yeast
            12                  oz.                     Water, warm    
            4                                              Eggs (large)
            6                    oz.                     Honey
            3-1/2              oz.                    Canola Oil
            1                     oz.                    Sesame Seeds or Poppy Seeds, topping (optional)
                                                            Egg Wash, as required

In a very large bowl, combine the Flour, Salt, Yeast, Water, Eggs, Honey, and Water. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to ferment for 2 hours at room temperature. Refrigerate at least overnight or up to 4 days.

Remove about 1/3 of the dough (about 20 ounces) and transfer to a floured surface. For a 3-Braid Challah, divide into thirds and roll each piece into a 24” log. Braid the logs and pinch the ends together. Place braided Challah on a half sheet pan lined with parchment paper or Silpat. Cover with lightly-oiled plastic wrap and allow to proof until doubled, about 90 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Uncover and Egg Wash the Challah. Sprinkle with the Sesame Seeds or Poppy Seeds (if using) and bake until golden brown, about 35 minutes. (Internal temperature should be about 190°F.)



balmagowry's picture

Mixing and kneading by hand become a little easier if you have your work surface at a good height - or more to the point they are less so if you don't. My thumbs aren't as opposable or my hands as powerful as they used to be, what with the incipient arthritis, but I still have very little trouble handling dough since I shifted from a counter-height work surface to a table-height one. It's only a few inches' difference, but it's enough that this way I can use my body weight to advantage, and it takes some of the strain off the smaller joints. It doesn't totally solve all the problems, but every little bit helps, and it's worth experimenting to find the adjustments that work best for you.