Category Archives: Breads and Yeast Raised Doughs

Challah Bread {Recipe}

Challah Bread | Lil Miss Cakes

I have been talking about my challah recipe for weeks and weeks. Maybe even years? But I wasn’t quite ready to share it until now. I have been tweaking it each time I baked it, and now I’m pretty sure it’s perfect! (See my edits-I’ve tweaked it a bit since originally posting). I’ll explain my process as well as tips and tricks I use to make my challah picture perfect.

Lets talk about yeast. I buy active dry yeast in bulk. I store it in an airtight container in the back of my fridge. It stays fresh for months that way. You can also store it in the freezer. Then when I’m making challah, cinnamon buns, vanilla rugelach, or anything else that calls for yeast, I’m ready to go. Here are some tips for using active dry yeast. When mixing your yeast with water and sugar, that is called proofing. When proofing your yeast, if your yeast mixture is not puffy or bubbly after 5-10 minutes it is probably dead. Please discard it; your bread will not rise. Your yeast could have been old, or your water could have been too hot or cold. The water temperature should be between 105 and 110 degrees F. If you don’t have a thermometer, run the water over your wrist. If it feels warm, it’s just above body temperature (98.6 degrees F) and should work perfectly to proof your yeast.

If you buy instant yeast, you can proof it first, but you can also  just add it directly in with the flour; there is no need to proof it with water. Then continue the recipe as normal. If you buy rapid rise you should add it directly to your flour. You should then technically knead the dough and immediately shape the bread. Then allow to rise and bake. The rapid rise yeast is not meant to rise twice. I would stay away from it altogether just because it makes things more complicated and you may have different results.

I like to mix my dough until it just comes together, leaving out the salt. Then I allow the dough to rest for 10-30 minutes. This gives the flour some time to absorb the liquids in the dough. I find that if I mix it all right away, I need to add more and more flour to make the dough stop sticking. By allowing the flour to properly hydrate, the dough doesn’t usually need extra flour. I live in New York and this recipe works for me, but if you live in a higher elevation or very different climate, you may need to adjust your flour amounts, rising, or baking times and temps.

Once your dough is mixed and smooth, place it in an oiled bowl. Rub a thin coat of oil all over the dough. I like to lay a piece of plastic wrap directly over my dough. Then I add a second piece of plastic wrap over the entire bowl, completely sealing it. You can also just rest a clean kitchen towel over the bowl. Allow the dough to rise in a warm place until doubled. If it is a hot summer day, it may double in 45 minutes. If it is really cold in your kitchen, it could take up to 2 hours. If it’s a cold day, I like to turn my oven on very low, place my dough on top and sometimes even crack the oven open slightly. Or I will run my dishwasher and place the dough nearby so it benefits from the warmth. Just be careful not to overheat your rising dough. Do what works for you!

If you have mixed your dough but don’t have time to bake it, place it directly in the fridge. Do not allow it to rise first. The dough will rise in the fridge, it will just rise very slowly. You can even allow it to rise in the fridge overnight (currently my favorite method). Just make sure to bring the dough to room temperature before continuing. Your dough may smell extra yeasty or like alcohol. This is okay! Your dough just had extra time to ferment and let off extra alcohol gasses. Do not allow your dough to rise on the counter overnight, you have eggs in the dough which are perishable.

When I make this recipe, I divide my dough into 6 equal pieces, 6 equal challahs. Then I braid each challah and bake them in greased Magic Mill oval challah pans, size 8 (8″). If I want larger challahs, I divide my dough into 3 loaves and bake them in Magic Mill oval challah pans, size 10 (10″). If I doubled my recipe, (and it does double beautifully) I would bake 6 loaves in the size 10 challah pans. The pans that I use are technically non-stick, but I like to grease my pans with cake release or non-stick spray before placing my braided dough inside.

Once my challah loaves are braided, I brush them with egg wash and cover them loosely with a clean kitchen towel. Then I preheat my oven. Allow the bread to rise until doubled in size. This can take anywhere from 30 minutes, to 1 1/2 hours. You can test your dough by pressing your finger into the bread slightly. If your dough springs back, it’s not ready yet. If your indentation stays, your dough is ready for the oven. You can carefully brush with egg wash again and then bake.

Bake for about 25-30 minutes until the bread is evenly browned and the challah sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.  Baking time can vary depending on the size you shaped your bread. Oven temperature can also vary depending on the pans you use. The pans I use are dark in color so I bake my bread at 325 degrees. Allow to cool and enjoy!

Once my challah bread is baked, it freezes beautifully, just make sure to wrap it well in plastic wrap and a freezer bag.

(Edit 4/12/2018 The past few times I’ve made my challah I have adjusted some of my measurements. I increased my yeast from 2 packages to 3, so now I use 6 3/4 tsp. of active dry yeast. I increased the water from 2 cups to 2 1/4 cups; and I increased the oil from 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup. In my opinion the dough is even easier to work with and the bread comes out even richer. But if you have been happy with previous amounts, stick with those!)

Challah Bread {Recipe}
  • 2¼ cups warm water
  • 3 packages active dry yeast (6¾ tsp.)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ------------------
  • 3 eggs
  • ⅔ cup oil
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2.5 pounds flour (7-8 cups)
  • 1 Tbs. salt
  1. In a medium sized bowl mix the warm water with the yeast and ½ cup of sugar. Whisk until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside to proof for 5-10 minutes.
  2. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, add the eggs, oil, sugar, and flour. Turn the mixer to low speed and pour in the yeast mixture. Mix for a minute or two until the dough just comes together. (It will look shaggy and messy). Turn the mixer off and allow the dough to rest for 10-30 minutes.
  3. After 10-30 minutes, add the salt then turn the mixer back on and mix until the dough is smooth; about 10-15 minutes.
  4. Once the dough is smooth, transfer to a large oiled bowl. The bowl should have enough room to allow the dough to double inside. Make sure the dough is completely covered in a thin coat of oil. Then cover and allow to rise. It needs to double in size. This can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours. Or allow to rise overnight in the fridge.
  5. Once risen, divide the dough, braid, and egg wash. If the dough rose overnight in the fridge, allow to come to room temp before dividing and shaping. Once shaped, cover loosely with a clean kitchen towel.
  6. Allow to double in size again. This can take 30 minutes to 1½ hours.
  7. While the dough is rising for the second time, preheat your oven to 325-350 degrees F.
  8. Once risen, carefully brush with more egg wash and bake until golden brown. Baking time varies depending on the size that you shaped your bread. Oven temp varies depending on the pans used to bake. A darker pan needs a lower oven temperature or the bread will get too dark before the bread is fully baked.


Vanilla Rugelach {Recipe}

Vanilla Rugelach | Lil Miss Cakes

I actually shared a recipe for vanilla rugelach on about 4 years ago. It is a really popular recipe because they are insanely good! But I personally haven’t baked them in a long while. My brother in law loves these vanilla rugelach from a certain bakery in town, but he recently moved away. So when I was getting ready to visit I figured I should probably bring him some, but not store bought. Homemade obviously. I started by mixing up a batch of my favorite sweet dough, the dough I use for my famous cinnamon buns. Then I pulled up my recipe on and realized that I had originally made some changes to that dough by adding some vanilla pudding mix. Whoops! I was not about to make another batch of dough so I continued with the recipe. It worked beautifully so I don’t think I’m going to bother with the other dough recipe anymore. I don’t always have vanilla pudding mix in the pantry and it’s really not worth the hassle or extra cost. Originally I was dividing the dough in half, making 32 huge rugelach. Some of the comments on the original recipe actually mention that they were quite big. So this time around I divided the dough into 6 portions. This makes 96 perfectly sized sweet rugelach.

Tray of Vanilla Rugelach | Lil Miss Cakes

The next update to the recipe to the recipe is not actually in the ingredients but how the rugelach bake. I used to space the tiny pastries on the tray, but the sugar was baking out and all over the tray. I noticed that in Israel they bake their rugelach much closer together, almost like cinnamon buns. I figured they probably know what they are doing so I packed my rugelach onto the baking tray with just a tiny space in between each one. I wanted them to have a little room to puff up and rise. This baking method is genius because the sugar has nowhere to go-keeping the rugelach sweet, moist, and gooey. The last change I made what to the sugar glaze that I brush on as soon as the rugelach come out of the oven. Instead of using simple syrup, I mixed up equal parts of clear apple jelly with water and warmed it on the stove until the jelly melts and dissolves into the water. You can certainly use sugar instead of the apple jelly, but the jelly gives the rugelach a bit of a shine and some added sweetness. These pastries are really easy to make and freeze so well! I made a quick video just to show you how I roll out, fill, and shape these rugelach.

Vanilla Rugelach {Recipe}
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 96
  • 2 packets (4½ tsp.) dry yeast
  • ½ cup warm water (90 to 110 degrees)
  • 1 Tbs. sugar
  • 4½ cups all purpose flour
  • ½ cup vegetable oil or margarine, melted and cooled
  • ¾ cup soy milk
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ¾ cup margarine, melted
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • ¼ cup vanilla sugar
  • ¼ cup apple jelly
  • ¼ cup water
  1. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, add in the dry yeast, warm water, and sugar and whisk to remove lumps. Let stand for 5-10 minutes until foamy and bubbly. If it doesn't "proof" then discard and start over (the yeast is dead).
  2. Once the yeast is alive, add in 4 cups of flour, the oil or melted and cooled margarine, soy milk, sugar, eggs, and salt.
  3. Mix on low speed until the dough comes together and is smooth, about 5 minutes.
  4. Once the dough comes together form the dough into a ball, rub oil all over and place in a clean oiled bowl. Cover with a clean towel and allow to rise in a warm place for about an hour.
  5. Once your dough doubles in size, divide it in 6 pieces and work with one piece at a time.
  1. Melt the margarine and set aside.
  2. Mix the sugars in a small bowl and set aside.
  3. Roll your dough out thin on a lightly floured surface. Try to roll the dough into a round shape.
  4. Using a pastry brush, brush a thin layer all over the dough.
  5. Sprinkle a layer of sugar over the entire piece of dough.
  6. Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough into 16 wedges .
  7. Starting at the widest part of each edge, roll up each wedge of dough.
  8. Transfer the rugelach to a parchment lined baking sheet. Make sure the end of each rugelach is tucked underneath so they don't open while baking. The rugelach should be placed close together on the baking sheet. Cover the baking sheet with a clean kitchen towel and allow to rise in a warm place for 30 minutes to an hour.
  9. Bake the rugelach for 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees F. Until the rugelach are golden brown.
  1. While the rugelach are baking, prepare the glaze.
  2. In a small pot, add the apple jelly and the water. Heat over a low flame until the apple jelly is melted.
  3. As soon as the rugelach come out of the oven, use a heatproof pastry brush to brush the thin glaze all over the rugelach.
  4. Allow to cool on the tray and enjoy!


Peanut Butter Frosted Jelly Donuts {Recipe}

Peanut Butter Frosted Jelly Donuts | Lil Miss Cakes

I love putting a flavor twist on traditional dessert recipes. In the past I have shared my recipes for pumpkin donuts with marshamallow graham cracker glaze, cinnamon bun stuffed donuts, and a mint chocolate cookies and cream donut (which happens to be baked). But this recipe isn’t really outside the box like those. I simply added a peanut butter frosting to a classic and traditional Hanukkah jelly donut. Now I love peanut butter and jelly, they are a match made in heaven. I’ve shared my recipe for peanut butter and jelly hamantashen which are made with a peanut butter cookie dough and filled with delicious jelly. That’s what I tried to do with these donuts. I really wanted to fry up a peanut butter donut and fill it with my favorite jelly. But after lots of research and even more trial and error I realized that peanut butter dough just doesn’t want to be fried.

Peanut Butter Frosted Jelly Donuts

I finally went with a simple peanut butter frosting on top of a classic jelly donut. My husband really wanted this combo from the beginning. He doesn’t like peanut butter flavored things since they lose the signature sticky, thick peanut butter texture. These donuts taste like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and the peanut butter texture is definitely there. I made the frosting thick but you could always thin the frosting out and turn it into a peanut butter glaze. Those would also be amazing! Enjoy the simple and dairy free recipe for these donuts!

Peanut Butter Frosted Jelly Donuts {Recipe}
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 16 donuts
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • Jam or jelly for filling
  • 2 packets yeast (4½ tsp.) I use active dry.
  • ½ cup warm water
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • ⅓ cup vegetable shortening
  • ¾ cup soy milk
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 eggs
Peanut Butter Frosting
  • ½ cup creamy peanut butter
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • ¼-1/2 cup water
  • ½ tsp, vanilla extract
  1. In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix the yeast with the warm water and 1 tsp. sugar. Stir until no longer lumpy and set aside to proof and bubble up; 5-10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile add the ¼ cup sugar and the salt to the bowl of an electric stand mixer.
  3. In a microwaveable bowl warm the vegetable shortening with the soy milk until the shortening has melted. Pour the shortening/milk mixture over the sugar/salt mixture and stir to melt. Allow to cool until lukewarm.
  4. Add the flour and eggs into the mixer bowl. Then finish off with the yeast mixture. Mix on low using the dough hook until the dough comes together. Once it's pulling off the sides of the bowl, set the mixer to medium low and mix for about 6 minutes.
  5. Grease or oil a large clean bowl and scrape the dough mixture inside.The dough will be sticky, but don't add flour! Grease your hands to better work with the dough.
  6. Cover in plastic wrap and set in warm place to rise for one hour.
  7. Once the dough has risen, roll the dough out and cut circles using a 2½- 3 inch round cutter. Set the circles of dough on a floured and parchment lined baking sheet and cover with a kitchen towel.
  8. Allow to rest in a warm place for 30-45 minutes.
  9. Meanwile heat the vegetable oil in a heavy bottom pot or deep fryer. Set the temperature to 350 degrees F.
  10. Once the donuts have rested and risen for a second time and the oil has reached it's temp, fry the donuts for 1 minute on each side. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels.
  11. Fill the donuts with your favorite jam or jelly. I use a piping bag fitted with a Wilton number 230 filling tip. It is long and skinny with an angled front to allow easy filling.
Prepare the frosting
  1. In a bowl stir the peanut butter with the powdered sugar and vanilla. Slowly add in the water until it's spreadable. Spread or pipe the frosting on the donuts. You can also thin it enough to make a glaze and pour over the donuts.