Mar 13, 2010

BBA Challenge Round 5: Challah

The Challenge Bread

This week, we're making Challah.

A Little History

Challah is a Jewish celebration bread.  It is braided and sometimes a braid will be placed on top of a larger braid for a big celebration loaf.

The Ingredients

This one is pretty straight forward:

  • Bread Flour

  • sugar

  • Salf

  • yeast

  • Vegetable oil

  • whole eggs

  • egg yolks

  • Water

Make sure to save the egg whites to use as an egg wash later on.  I just put them in a bowl and covered it with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator while I prepped the loaves.

Corn/Dairy Free changes

There are no diary or corn ingredients in this bread.  No changes!

The Shaping

This is the first loaf that has required "real" shaping.  On the first non Giant celebration loaf, I took the dough and split it into three equal pieces.  This is where the scale was handy: Just because two pieces looked about the same, they often weren't.  I took the pieces, and shaped them into Boules, and let them rest for ten minutes under a towel.

After the mandatory rest period, I began shaping them into nice, long ropes of dough.  I started by rolling them on the table, slowly pushing them out from the center of the dough mass.  I that mostly worked, but I experimented with other methods as well.  I tried holding the dough "upright" and rubbing my hands like I was trying to warm them up, letting gravity pull the dough down.  That didn't work as well as the horizontal roll, but it wasn't bad.    The last method I tried was holding the dough with my hands at nine and three o'clock and slowly shaking the dough like you to a vending machine trying to get your stuck Doritos to fall.  While shaking, I slowly pulled the dough out, eventually ending up with my hands about three to four feet apart.  That seemed to be the best method on that day.

After I had three equal length ropes, I began my braiding from the center of soon-to-be loaf.  I braided down until I couldn't effectively make more cross over manuvers.  I then rotated the loaf and did it to the other side.  When I flipped the loaf, I needed to invert my braiding method: instead of taking the rope on the left and brining it over the top of the middle rope on its way to the right side, I needed to put it under the middle rope to keep the braid looking neat and not end up with a funky bump in the middle.  It took my brain a couple of attempts before I finally got it right.  I think it ended up looking pretty good for my first attempt.

The Celebration was very similar, but instead of one braid there were two: one on top that was half the size of the bottom loaf.  I did this by taking the dough and cutting it into three equal pieces and then combining two of those pieces.  I then took both lumps and cut them into three dough balls to make a total of six dough ropes.  I formed the bottom braid and put the smaller one on top and gave it just a little pinch to keep it from falling off.

I then gave the loaf a quick egg white wash, and let them proof under plastic wrap for about 2 hours, or until the loaf just about doubled in size.  I then gave the loaf another quick wash and let it rise until it was double the original size.

The Baking

I preheated the oven to 325 degrees.  I baked the loaves for about 45 minutes, until the internal temperature of the loaves reached 190 degrees.  The crust also turned a nice golden brown.  The curst wa

Results and My Final Thoughts/Notes

I really liked making the Challah.  Even though my shaping skills are not up to the level I would like them to be, I think I will be adding this into the normal rotation of breads.  It serves as a nice break from my "basic" loaves, and gives me a chance to try making "arts-y" bread.

Up Next…

Next week, we'll be tackling Ciabatta on the road!

Comments? Suggestions?

So what do you think? Sound good?  Do you have any butter/milk replacements that I should try?


Pants said...

yay Challah! Did you make french toast with it? :)

Pants said...

BTW- it took all my might not to write "Challah!" (like holla!) ;)

markus said...

If any of the loaf survived longer than a day, we probably would have ;)

Dan said...

I recommend making some Portugal Sweet Bread. We picked up a bag of rolls and it is super tasty.

Hopefully it's in the BBA challenge :)