The Torah of the Bread Machine

bread machine
The Terrifying Bread Machine at work.

I studied a bit of practical Torah today with a woman who has been my friend for years. She was my conversion mentor (not my rabbi, just a friend who showed me the ropes) and since then we have become friends and partners in teaching. I still look to her when a bit of practical home-based Judaism is tricky for me.

A year ago (a year ago!) she gave me a bread machine as a housewarming gift. I have always made bread by hand, and was suspicious of machines. I am also very busy, especially on Fridays, and so I bought my challah at the store, because I was afraid of the bread machine. I decided “Enough of that nonsense!” and asked Dawn to teach me how to use the terrifying bread machine.

Yes, I am making fun of myself. It is ridiculous for a grown woman of nearly sixty years to be afraid of using a bread machine. I am pretty sure – almost certain – that it will not blow up. Dawn assures me that it won’t. And it is not a crime to use a machine to allow me to do other things.

I know for sure the challah that comes out will be good – Dawn uses the same machine! I love her challah!

How do you get your challah? Do you bake it? Make it with a machine’s help? Buy it from a particular store? Make it with your children or friends?

Has there ever been a mitzvah you were afraid to try because you might mess up?

Anyway, I wish you a Shabbat Shalom, and tasty challah however you obtain it!


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Rabbi Ruth Adar is a teaching rabbi in San Leandro, CA. She has many hats: rabbi, granny, and ham radio operator K6RAV. She blogs at and teaches at Jewish Gateways in Albany, CA.

7 thoughts on “The Torah of the Bread Machine”

  1. I never did bread because I can’t knead. And all that raising and punching, who’s got time for it? But our neighbors were having a garage sale of all the kitchen stuff from one of their mothers and had a bread machine with all the parts intact for $5, so why not?

    It’s wonderful. I put too much salt in once (fed it to the birds, which is a mitzvah, right?), and underbaked it once (the fan belt or something rubbery broke; turns out rubber from the 80’s doesn’t work!). Luckily the husband suggested microwaving it so it was no longer soggy and then cutting and toasting it into croutons (Splendid).

    Other than that, I have turned out lovely fluffy pure loaves of whole wheat and a terrifyingly good raisin bread. I think you’ll find that the only problem you’ll have is finding yourself eating more bread!

    How was the challah?

    (My bread machine is only terrifying to the cats. It’s a little noisy during the mixing.)

    1. The challah was great, and the loaf I made for tomorrow’s lunch looks and smells good.

      I used to bake all my family’s bread, but like you, health and schedule make it impossible – but now with the machine, I feel very optimistic!

  2. I love to use my bread machine to make challah. If I’m trying a more complicated recipe (like apple challah I made for Rosh Hashanah) then I do it by hand.

    1. I am glad to find so many others who use the machine! I wish I had the time and the ability to do the whole process by hand. I used to love to do that.

  3. Yup the bread machine is harmless! And the challah you gave me was delicious! I too wanted to make bread by hand, as my mother always did. But it became apparent to me years ago that it wouldn’t happen if I didn’t use a bread machine; so I learned how. What it has meant is that every Friday afternoon my house smells fabulous and my kids grew up associating that fragrance with Shabbat.

    I make some breads by hand… and others I figure how how to do in the machine. 🙂 Like Pumpkin Challah, mmmm!

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