CHALLAH

 

January 1, 2015

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I’ve never tasted homemade Challah. I’ve only bought from bakeries and they’ve been sweet, and fluffy, but not very chewy. I always considered it a fattening bread due to the amount of sugar and oil necessary to give it its character, and extend its shelf life. And I usually add to those calories by making a Ham and Cheese Strata, so I didn’t really expect much different making my own. I was impatient waiting for it to rest and rise, but I understood. I only hope it understands me too and doesn’t “hang around” my belly (if you know what I mean). I take after my family, the way I love bread.

Well, much to my surprise, and in spite of the honey, this Challah wasn’t so sweet, and it had a marvellous texture—fluffy yet very chewy. The biga was definitely present. I’m perfectly turned around. As you all know, I totally underestimated the amount of time the biga took to “cook.” It’s such a small amount of yeasty dough that grows and transforms into a fermented, sour mass. We haven’t made biga since the pannetone, I think (or maybe on other time). I was curious; what's the difference between biga and dough starter? As it turns out, biga is used when a light open texture is desired (remember the Panettone?) and it makes the bread less perishable. While it’s usually used in Italian breads, it’s application is perfect here because Challah has a tendency to go stale quickly. Ah, I see said the blind man. I chose this recipe for December because we are right on top of Hanukkah, and I was thinking of Mendy. Sorry to see him leave us, but I certainly understand and wish him well.

One other note: as per Rose's suggestion, I used the recipe from Rose's blog page, rather than the Bread Bible.

Instructions

BIGA

  • As I mentioned above, biga is certainly well worth the time, as it adds a complexity that rarely exists in store/bakery bought Challah.

Fermented biga.
Fermented biga.

MIX THE DOUGH

  • I like cutting pieces of biga and soaking it in water. Not too difficult. The dough mixed up well and was just a little tacky, the way Rose described.

Cutting the biga and dropping it into the water.
Cutting the biga and dropping it into the water.

Biga, water and butter.
Biga, water and butter.

LET THE DOUGH RISE

  • My challah dough took two hours to double in size and when I removed it to make the business folds, it was soft and very tender.

Challah dough freshly mixed.
Challah dough freshly mixed.

The dough in its rising container. You’ve seen this before.
The dough in its rising container. You’ve seen this before.

The dough after its first rise. Notice how open and airy it looks
The dough after its first rise. Notice how open and airy it looks

After its first biz fold.
After its first biz fold.

After the challah’s second biz fold.
After the challah’s second biz fold.

SHAPE THE DOUGH

  • Overall, this dough, like all bread doughs, was compliant and cooperative. All I had to do was press it into place—no rolling required. Too easy really.

Shaping the Challah to make a 4-braid loaf. The strands at 9 inches.
Shaping the Challah to make a 4-braid loaf. The strands at 9 inches.

The strands at 13 inches.
The strands at 13 inches.

The strands at 19 inches.
The strands at 19 inches.

  • I’ve never done a 4 braided bread before. I didn’t understand what was meant by starting in the middle, as I could barely start at the beginning.

Half way through the braid.
Half way through the braid.

Reaching underneath.
Reaching underneath.

Finishing the braid.
Finishing the braid.

Giving the Challah braid some extra love.
Giving the Challah braid some extra love.

Just after the final rise.
Just after the final rise.

GLAZE THE CHALLAH

  • I used a very diluted egg glaze with poppy seeds.

The Challah just glazed with poppy seeds.
The Challah just glazed with poppy seeds.

BAKE THE CHALLAH

  • I know from eating so many Challah, that there isn’t much of a crust to speak of. Mine baked in the minimum amount of time and I had no trouble with it over browning. I removed it from the oven when the internal temp reached 203-205 degrees

Homemade Challah, The Finer Cookie.
Homemade Challah, The Finer Cookie.

WHAT ARE THE ALPHA BAKERS? : Here's how it works: once a month, for the next two years, 25 Alpha Bakers commit to baking their way through every recipe of Rose Levy Beranbaum's The Bread Bible. Each month we post our experiences on our blog sites: our successes, our failures, our like and dislikes . The recipes are scheduled in advance so that everyone is baking the same recipe at the same time. No recipes can be shared in my Alpha Bakers Bread Bible posts due to publishing restrictions enforced by the publisher, but if you love to bake bread, this is a must-have book. You can see other tutorials for the same recipe at the following link The Bread BibleAlpha Bakers at http://breadbiblealphabakers.blogspot.ca/

TAGS:  BREAD BIBLE   challah       LABELS: Alpha Bakers 

Comments

2 Comments

JOAN Horton   2017-01-08

Joan If challah ever lasted long enough to start to get stale in my house, French toast was a way to utilize it. I put my order in the next time you are home!

Kimberlie 2017-01-08

The same is true in my house. I guess I'm a chip off the old block

Arlene   2017-01-08

As I remember Challah way bake when we had an authentic New York style bakery in Syracuse, New York "Snowflake Bakery" the bread is light with a chew to it. It isn't sweet but quite delicious. My favorite way is just with good butter. Mmmm!

Kimberlie 2017-01-08

Yes! This is exactly how this Challah is. It was delicious. A Challah connoisseur I see!

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CHALLAH

Ingredients
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