Over the past few years, I've had pretty bad experiences with challah making. The first recipe I ever tried was taught to me by a good friend, and makes a really delicious challah, but is utterly exhausting to make. Each time I attempted to make this recipe, I felt that nothing was worth that kind of work. I tried out several recipes in a breadmaker which I was given for my wedding, but they never really came out right, and I would get frustrated and end up, once again, exhausted and just feeling I was better off with store-bought challah.
Now, a few weeks ago, The Huz and I went to a friend's house for shabbos dinner, and her fiancé had baked some pretty good challahs. He informed me that it contained only 5 ingredients (water, sugar, yeast, oil, and flour) so I asked for the recipe. So, yesterday morning, I set out to bake challah, feeling a little hopeful. What I found was that this recipe was both simple and tasty. I proofed the yeast, and mixed in the flour using my Kitchenaid stand mixer until it started to form a dough that I could knead. I removed it to a floured surface and kneaded it, adding flour and water as necessary until it got the right texture. The only setback I experienced was when I went to check on it at the end of the first rising, and found that it hadn't risen. I put it in a warmer place (on top of the back burner [which was off, but acts as a vent for the oven, so it gets pretty warm]) where it apparently started to cook a little. Other than that, the challahs came off without a hitch. I brought them to my parents' house, and everyone seemed to like them a lot.
I declare them a success.
I intend to make them again next week, only I'm going to make the recipe a little bigger, add more sugar and yeast and maybe a little vanilla, just to see what happens. I'll let you know how they turn out. :)