I’ve scratch-made challah for decades. Over the winter I came across a recipe on food52.com for making challah in a cast iron skillet on the grill. Challah in a cast iron skillet was intriguing; doing it on the grill was just too tempting. Unfortunately it was winter and a bit too chilly for grillin’ so I kept the recipe open in a Safari tab on my iPad for four months until the thaw. That gave me plenty of time to re-season my Bubbie’s 12 inch cast iron skillet.
I elected to try it in a simple way first and tucked challah rolls into the skillet as if they were cinnamon rolls without the icing. I used a gas grill to avoid those noxious fumes from bagged charcoal. The results were great. The challah was cooked to perfection – golden on top and fluffy in the middle. The taste was almost the same as having been in a traditional oven on a cookie sheet but with a bit of a smoky undertone from the flames and the skillet. The only thing I would do to change is possibly do a better job at seasoning the skillet so that it becomes non-stick.
Here’s a reprint of the recipe from Camille Storch’s article on food52.com.
Makes one large loaf
- 1 1/4 tablespoons active dry yeast
- 3/4 cup warm water
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
Egg Wash and Topping
- 1 egg yolk stirred with a bit of water
- 2 to 3 tablespoons poppy seeds
- Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water in a large bowl and allow it to dissolve. Mix in the honey, salt, eggs, and olive oil. Gradually stir in as much flour as the dough will hold, and then turn the dough out onto a floured work surface. Knead the dough, adding more flour as necessary to keep it from getting too sticky. When the dough is smooth and elastic, place it in an oiled bowl, cover it with a towel, and set it aside to rise in a warm place.
- After the dough doubles in size (this should take about 40 minutes), punch it down and divide it into four equal sections. [here’s where I made rolls instead of doing a circular braid]
- Dust a heavy cast iron pan with cornmeal, place the dough in the pan, and allow it to rise again until doubled (about 25 minutes). Preheat the barbecue on high with two side-by-side fire bricks on the grill.
- After the final rise, brush the top of the loaf generously with egg wash and sprinkle it with poppy seeds.
- Place your pan on top of the preheated fire bricks in the barbecue, and close the lid. Set the heat to “medium” and bake for 20 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the barbecue and let cool completely before slicing.