How-To & Diy

Challah, Baked on the Grill

July 26, 2013

It's always more fun to DIY. Every week, we'll spare you a trip to the grocery store and show you how to make small batches of great foods at home.

Today: Camille Storch -- off-grid cabin dweller, goat milker, and writer of Wayward Spark -- shows us that the best tool for baking brick oven-style bread is sitting on our back porch.

challah baked in a barbecue // Wayward Spark

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For most folks, the thought of cranking up the oven in the heat of the summer to bake bread is nightmare-inducing -- and rightly so. Grill masters learned long ago that one could avoid a steamy kitchen by taking dinner prep outside, but not many cooks have experimented with baking in barbecues. In some ways, however, a propane barbecue can replicate the conditions of a fancy brick oven and produce some of the best home-baked loaves of bread.

This challah, adapted from The Book of Bread by Judith and Evan Jones, is a show stopper, but it comes together quite easily and quickly. The bronzed exterior turns out crisp, but the crumb inside is rich and spongy. I prefer to use Deb Perelman's braiding technique, but you can also do a traditional long, layered braid.

challah baked in a barbecue // Wayward Spark

To bake challah or another bread in the barbecue, you will need to have a good cast iron skillet and a couple of fire bricks on hand. Fire bricks are flatter and more heat resistant than regular bricks because they're used to line the interior of wood stoves. They're available online and at larger home improvement stores.

Challah on the Grill

Makes 1 large loaf

For the challah dough

1 1/4 tablespoons active dry yeast
3/4 cups 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

For the 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.

challah baked in a barbecue // Wayward Spark  challah baked in a barbecue // Wayward Spark

After the dough doubles in size (this should take about 40 minutes), punch it down and divide it into four equal sections. Roll the sections into ropes about 12″ long and weave them according to Deb’s braiding instructions.

challah baked in a barbecue // Wayward Spark  challah baked in a barbecue // Wayward Spark

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.

challah baked in a barbecue // Wayward Spark

After the final rise, brush the top of the loaf generously with egg wash and sprinkle it with poppy seeds.

challah baked in a barbecue // Wayward Spark

Place your pan (or pans, if you doubled the recipe like I did) on top of the preheated fire bricks in the barbecue, and close the lid. Set the heat to “medium” and bake for 20 minutes.

challah baked in a barbecue // Wayward Spark

Remove the pan from the barbecue and let cool completely before slicing. 

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by Camille Storch

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Camille Storch is a writer, woodworker, avid canner, and mom of two. She designs and crafts natural edge cutting and serving boards and sells them in her Etsy shop, Red Onion Woodworks. She also writes about ecology, agriculture, and the reality of her family’s modest but joyful life on her blog, Wayward Spark.


Jeannette B. September 28, 2013
Made this twice with my husband and it has sparked me to start baking things again. This weekend we are making bagels!
Merry August 1, 2013
Oh my goodness ~ get out ~ that is just too fabulous! Grilled challah bread ~ awesome!
Braxton V. July 30, 2013
If by Dinwiddie we're talking about Buckingham Co. lots of particularly excellent culinary accomplishments have come from there without a doubt!!!
Giggles July 30, 2013
Oh my, actually I wasn't referring to that. I was referring to the Dinwiddie method of coal counting to regulate the heat. It's a formally based on the number of coals you use in a ring fashion to get the temperature you need. Here's a link to a Dinwiddie chart so you can see what I mean.
Giggles July 30, 2013
Baking bread works equally well in a Dutch oven if you want to get out of the kitchen. Invert a small heat proof pan on the bottom of the Dutch Oven, then put your bread pan on top, use coals to heat it up and bake (I use the Dinwiddie method to regulate coals). We do this at our cabin and when camping, works well!
alison_sherwood July 29, 2013
Would this work using regular bricks instead of fire bricks? Or is there an alternative to fire bricks that would achieve the same goal?
Braxton V. July 29, 2013
Camille has a winner there. It's easily done on The Big Green Egg in answer to those looking for a charcoal option. Just having The Big Green Egg cookbook will walk you through a goodly number of work-arounds apropos of charcoal options.
I stll remember my Uncle / Godfather's comment about how the three things you need in the kitchen are, the cleanest hands, the sharpest knives & the ability to read. Still working on the reading part here. . . Best to all!
Braxton Valentine.
Tracy G. July 29, 2013
This looks absolutely beautiful! Do you think this could be baked on a charcoal grill as well? If so,do you think theres any measures that should be taken such as the fire bricks? Our grill is small n round n easily holds heat from 300-400 for a couple hours. Thank-You soo much I love your site:)
Lori1528 July 29, 2013
I live overseas and they do not have fire bricks...would this recipe work with out using them? If not I guess I just need to do in oven. Thanks
soleilnyc July 28, 2013
Does it matter what temperature the grill is at? I've tried multiple times: high loaves with scorched bottoms at 450, flat loaves at 250-300. I try to match the recommended oven temps but it's difficult to maintain them, especially the high ones since the bread itself (with accompanying cast iron/stone/etc) makes it difficult to add more coal. I once tried it with the remaining heat from a backyard took two hours and the bread was tasty, but not as lofted as I would have hoped.
motto July 28, 2013
if its a gas grill can you turn one side off? if charcoal move the coals to one side. the scorching is from direct heat on the bottom of the pan. some moisture in the mix would not be bad either. heating up a pizza stone and putting your pan on it might not be bad either. don't give up, it looks like a great idea, and a little smokey flavor to challah, reminiscent of burnt offerings and sacrifices. hang in there.
motto July 28, 2013
well now that I've actually studied the pictures……… all I can say is RTFM
soleilnyc July 28, 2013
My bread recipe is actually at 70% so it's a very wet. I've tried bread on the grill with multigrain, whole wheat, white, enriched, you name it. My main problem with the grill is maintaining a steady temperature and an accurate cooking time. motto, I don't know what you mean by your second comment, I'm going to assume you don't mean it personally. As you can see, the recipe above gives no grill temperature.
Ruth July 28, 2013
When I bake on the grill, this will be the first bread recipe I try, I use my gas grill. It has 3 burners. I light the 2 outside ones and place the food to be baked between them. That way I am using indirect heat. When using a charcoal grill, push the coals to the outside all the way around the grill and don't wait until they are "white". That way you can put the bread pan in the center and not have heat directly below it.
soleilnyc July 28, 2013
Thanks, Ruth, but does it matter what temperature the grill is at? The recipe does not say!
Ruth July 28, 2013
When baking challah in the oven I have found that 375 degrees works best in my oven. The recipe says "medium" heat. That can be anywhere between 350 to 400 degrees, so 375 sounds like a "happy" medium for baking. When using a grill, even a gas one, cooking foods is tricky. To hot and it is scorched. Too low it takes "forever" and foods come out gummy or cat/dog food (when we fire up the grill our dogs run to the fence and wait for their "treat"). I'd suggest the trial and error method and only making 1 loaf at a time until you get it right.
Isabella July 28, 2013
I live in South Africa.....winter at the moment....can I bake this my oven or stove top???
Ruth July 28, 2013
Yes, you can bake it indoors in the oven. Pre-heat your oven to the temp specified in the recipe and bake the loaf (loaves)for the time suggested. I use stoneware in the oven and have both loaf pans for sandwich bread and flat stones for challah and other shaped loaves.
Ruth July 28, 2013
This is a great way to bake bread during the summer when it is too hot to have my oven going. Thanks for the tip!
sabina July 28, 2013
love the brilliance of turning your gas grill into an oven! we can't eat bread at the moment, but adore this method!
Luvtocook July 28, 2013
Don't have a grill but DO have a cast iron skillet and an oven! Have never made Challah, but am delighted for the recipe and for the braiding instructions. Can't wait to bake this. Thank you!
simplysandi July 28, 2013
I am very intrigued nada little intimidated, but I have to add this to my test kitchen (grilling) list of things to do
Deactivated July 28, 2013
Bread is the universal language; no matter what device, bread is possible!
Diana P. July 27, 2013
This looks so lovely. Our oven is broken so I've had to bake in the barbecue (a charcoal weber) - the novelty will wear off soon I imagine but for now I'm enjoying the challenge!
krusher July 27, 2013
I have to say that looks very good. The methodology is interesting and well worth exploring. Thaks.
A T. July 27, 2013
These look beautiful. I can't wait to try this next time I have the barbecue going. Instead of fire bricks, would a baking stone work?
MrsMehitabel July 26, 2013
Oh, SO timely! We're going camping in two weeks and I'm definitely doing this.
creamtea July 26, 2013
Beautiful loaves, and what a neat idea.