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Challah


Soup
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Yesterday,

I tried making Challah.

Recipe was yeast to warm water with sugar. added milk (scalded then cooled) melted butter, 2 tsp of salt and two eggs. About four cups of flour (I used bread machine flour. Gold was the brand). I also added a table spoon of sugar after the eggs were added (was hoping for a bit of a sweeter flavor).

I mixed the flower, kneeded it, let it rise and punched it down and kneeded again. I then did a six braid (I like the look a lot better). The bread came out looking amazing for my first try. With excitement I tasted a slice from it. It tasted like saw dust. It had no flavor. The mouth feel, the texture and color were all the stuff I was looking for. But the taste, it sucked. I've had way better stuff from whole foods bakery.

What did I do wrong?

Basically my goal was to do a very rich sweet egg bread. I don't care it is kosher since my family is not kosher.

Soup

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I'm no bread expert, but it could've been the type of flour. Try the recipe with all-purpose flour, which is softer than bread flour.

My recipe for challah (tried & tested from a friend -- and this was the first yeast bread I ever made) uses:

1 package active dry yeast

2 teaspoons sugar

1-1/4 cups lukewarm water

1/8 teaspoon saffron (for a more golden color)

4-1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour + flour for dusting

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

2 tablespoons oil

Also, it does three rises -- first one till doubled in bulk, then punch down and let rise a second time until doubled in bulk, then knead, let rest 15 minutes, and braid, then cover with a damp towel and let rise a third time until doubled (about 45 minutes). Brush with an egg yolk-water glaze and bake 50 minutes @ 375F.

Hope this helps!

SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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My motto for many things continues to be, "Why make it yourself if it isn't at least as good, if not better, than what you can buy?" After years of not bad but not great challahs, I finally found the one that I love. It's the recipe in the Baking with Julia book. Sweet, moist, rich, delicious. It's made with milk, melted butter, sugar, honey, eggs, flour, yeast and a little salt. And, yes, I also do a 6-braid though you can do any braid or shape you want and it will taste great.

PS -- While I also don't keep kosher, I have, when required, substituted margarine for the butter and mocha mix for the milk and it still was great.

So long and thanks for all the fish.
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I love baking, but yeast breads aren't my thing.

However, I have made some pretty good challah, thanks to this recipe. Here's the one I use. And yes, I actually do use "1 1/2 eggs" in the dough. I don't know where the original recipe came from, but it looks like I halved it at some point.

Challah

1 cup milk

1/2 (1/4 cup) stick butter

2 Tablespoons cup sugar

1 packages active dry yeast

2 eggs. (1 1/2 for dough and 1/2 to rub on bread)

1 teaspoon salt

3 cups (or more) of unbleached, all-purpose flour

2 T. cornmeal

1 T. poppy seeds (optional)

Bring milk, butter and sugar to a boil in a medium saucepan. Remove from heat and pour into large mixing bowl. Let cool to 110 degrees.

When cool, stir yeast into milk mixture and let stand 10 minutes. Beat 1 1/2 of the eggs in a small mixing bowl. Add salt. Stir eggs into milk/yeast mixture.

Stir in 2 cups of the flour. Keep adding flour until you have a workable dough. Knead dough for 5 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic.

Spray bowl with Pam. Cover with Saran Wrap and let rise in a warm place for about 1 ½ hours. Punch down dough

Divide dough into three parts.

Sprinkle cookie sheet with cornmeal and braid dough on top of cornmeal.

Let dough rise again for 1 hour.

When dough has risen, brush with remaining half an egg and sprinkle with poppy seeds if desired.

Preheat oven to 350. When oven is preheated, bake dough braid for approximately 30-35 minutes.

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After years of not bad but not great challahs, I finally found the one that I love.  It's the recipe in the Baking with Julia book.  Sweet, moist, rich, delicious.  It's made with milk, melted butter, sugar, honey, eggs, flour, yeast and a little salt.  And, yes, I also do a 6-braid though you can do any braid or shape you want and it will taste great.

JFLinLA,

the Recipe would be greatly appreciated.

Soup

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Yesterday,

I tried making Challah.

Recipe was yeast to warm water with sugar.  added milk (scalded then cooled) melted butter, 2 tsp of salt and two eggs.  About four cups of flour (I used bread machine flour.  Gold was the brand).  I also added a table spoon of sugar after the eggs were added (was hoping for a bit of a sweeter flavor). 

I mixed the flower, kneeded it, let it rise and punched it down and kneeded again.  I then did a six braid (I like the look a lot better).  The bread came out looking amazing for my first try.  With excitement I tasted a slice from it.  It tasted like saw dust.  It had no flavor.  The mouth feel, the texture and color were all the stuff I was looking for.  But the taste, it sucked.  I've had way better stuff from whole foods bakery. 

What did I do wrong? 

Basically my goal was to do a very rich sweet egg bread.  I don't care it is kosher since my family is not kosher.

Soup

Could it have to do with your expectations? Challah is not a "very rich sweet egg bread". It is on the light end of the brioche scale of richness. If you want that try brioche with the butter at 75-100% of the flour weight-its wonderful if you don't remember what you are eating! If you want a recipe for gateau mollet which is like this I'll post it. Keep trying! Woods

Why it didn't have taste I don't know. It sounds like you used Gold Medal flour which is fine.

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That last recipe sounds really good! We've been looking for a consistently good challah recipe to make at home. I'm going to bake it on Friday and

I'll let you all know how it turns out on Sunday.

More Than Salt

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After years of not bad but not great challahs, I finally found the one that I love.  It's the recipe in the Baking with Julia book.  Sweet, moist, rich, delicious.  It's made with milk, melted butter, sugar, honey, eggs, flour, yeast and a little salt.  And, yes, I also do a 6-braid though you can do any braid or shape you want and it will taste great.

JFLinLA,

the Recipe would be greatly appreciated.

Soup

I've just been searching as I was sure someone, maybe even me, had posted it somewhere before. But couldn't find it. I don't want to violate any recipe posting rules so here are the basics for one large or two regular challot:

Dissolve 1 1/2 tablespoons (2 packets) yeast in 1/2 cup tepid water with a pinch of sugar.

Melt 1 stick unsalted butter with 1 cup milk

When butter is melted into the milk, pour into your mixing bowl and add in 1/3 cup sugar (minus the pinch you added to the yeast), 1 tablespoon honey, and 2 1/2 teaspoons salt. Stir to blend and allow to cool

Once the liquid mixture has cooled to at least 110F, stir in 4 eggs and yeast mixture.

If using a stand mixture, with a dough hook, add in 5 cups bread flour and mix to combine. Then add in additional flour, about 1/4 to 1/2 cup at a time, kneading to make a smooth dough. I usually end up with 6-7 cups flour total. If mixing by hand, you will need to start off adding the flour in smaller increments but should end up with the same amount. You will end up with a fairly moist, even sticky, dough.

Once you have the desired consistency, put into a lightly buttered bowl, brush top of ball of dough with additional melted butter, and cover bowl with lightly buttered plastic.

Allow dough to double in size, punch down, cover and let rise again. Shape dough and place on baking sheet. (I like to use parchment paper dusted with cornmeal on the sheet.) Cover loosely with a towel and allow to rise again.

Glaze with beaten egg mixed with a little milk or cream.

Bake in 375 oven.

After 20 minutes, remove from oven and re-glaze, return to oven.

Total baking time will likely be 40-45 minutes.

Edited by JFLinLA (log)
So long and thanks for all the fish.
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Other possibilities: Too much yeast/rising time too short (no time to develop flavor). Baked too long - egg breads seem to cook quite a bit faster than other breads.

I think helen's got it. Soup, you need another rise. And an overnight refrigeration of your shaped loaf wouldn't hurt either.

And I like the BWJ challah, but again as helen mentioned, baking time makes a big difference. I've found it much less appealing and dry when I've baked it just a little too long.

"I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast;

but we like hot butter on our breakfast toast!"

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I think I added too much flour and not enough salt. I'm also going to switch the flour from Gold Medal Bread machine flour to King Arthur's AP flour.

I'll follow most of JFLinLA's recipe but I'll cut the recipe by half.

I do have a question about yeast and letting the dough rise. I think I'm hearing that if I don't let it rise long enough, it has an effect on flavor? How long should I leave the yeast in warm water with sugar before I add other ingrediants? Does the amount of sugar I add here have any effect?

On the second and third rise, how long should I let that go? Does yeast and amount of time I give it in these various stages have effect on flavor?

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I think I added too much flour and not enough salt.  I'm also going to switch the flour from Gold Medal Bread machine flour to King Arthur's AP flour. 

I'll follow most of JFLinLA's recipe but I'll cut the recipe by half. 

I do have a question about yeast and letting the dough rise.  I think I'm hearing that if I don't let it rise long enough, it has an effect on flavor?  How long should I leave the yeast in warm water with sugar before I add other ingrediants?  Does the amount of sugar I add here have any effect? 

On the second and third rise, how long should I let that go?  Does yeast and amount of time I give it in these various stages have effect on flavor?

Hi Soup:

It's not my recipe, it's Lauren Groveman's from the Baking with Julia book. I've worked out the half amounts and done that at times.

In answer to your questions:

Amount of rise absolutely has an effect on flavor but we're talking about the dough once everything, including the yeast, has been added in. Once you've activated your yeast in water with a pinch of sugar, go ahead and add it in, as long as everything else is at the right temp.

Absolutely, the amount of sugar has an effect. Too little and it will take a really long time. Too much and you'll kill it -- in other words, the stuff will puff up quickly and then collapse on itself which you also don't want. (My kid actually did a science fair project on this some years back.)

In thinking about all of your rises, 1-3, don't think about time, think about volume. You want to think about doubling in volume and the amount of time it takes will depend on a variety of factors, the most obvious one being temperature. If it's a cold day, it will take longer. Actually, you can slow the process down and do the whole thing over 2-3 days by placing the dough -- shaped or otherwise -- in the fridge to rise overnight or up to a day. I do this quite often. On the other hand, you can speed things up just a bit by adding just a very slight amount of heat. For instance, place your covered dough in an unheated oven but also put a pot or large bowl of hot water in the oven too. I actually think you get better flavor by slowing things down but don't worry about that for now. What you need is some practice, trial & error, and you'll get it. Don't be discouraged. We've all had failed attempts, many of them, that's how we learn.

One other note for this recipe that I've learned from experience, when it comes to flour, less is more. The dough for this should remain moist and even a bit sticky. Don't be tempted to add more flour because it's bread. Your end result will be moister and tastier this way.

Good luck and let us know how the next attempt goes.

So long and thanks for all the fish.
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  • 3 months later...

Thanks everyone. I've baked a number of challah using the recipe JFLinLA posted. I've had some dissasters but I've been managing to crank out consistantly good Challah for a few weeks now. I add a bit more salt and honey. I keep the dough pretty wet and sticky and I don't bake for a long time.

I've been getting Challah I really (and my family) really likes. Thanks for your help. Tonights was the best yet.

Question? can the dough be frozen or does the bread once bake freeze well?

Soup

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Question?  can the dough be frozen or does the bread once bake freeze well?

I don't know about the recipe you're using .. maybe someone who does will have a different answer. But - you can buy frozen challah doughs - they work well. I would think that if you froze it before rising (just after shaping) it might be ok. Then just thaw and rise the day you want it.

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Thanks everyone.  I've baked a number of challah using the recipe JFLinLA posted.  I've had some dissasters but I've been managing to crank out consistantly good Challah for a few weeks now.  I add a bit more salt and honey.  I keep the dough pretty wet and sticky and I don't bake for a long time.

I've been getting Challah I really (and my family) really likes.  Thanks for your help.  Tonights was the best yet. 

Question?  can the dough be frozen or does the bread once bake freeze well?

Soup

Soup -- So, so glad it's been working for you. I have a lot of experience with both chilling the dough in the fridge to slow down the rise, and freezing. I have successfully allowed all 3 of the rising periods (2 in the bowl and 1 shaped) to occur in the refrigerator. Typically it's overnight, or during the day while I'm at work but I've allowed up to 24 hours. I have also froze the dough after the first rise or after shaping. In both cases, I place either the ball of dough or the braided, unbaked challah on a parchment lined pan in the freezer. Then, after it's frozen solid, I'll wrap well in plastic and place the whole thing in a zip-lock freezer bag. When I'm ready to continue, I'll take it out of the freezer and unwrap. Then, depending on what stage I'm at, it's either back in a bowl covered with plastic or onto a lined baking sheet covered loosely with a towel. The dough will thaw and rise though this will take several hours. For example, you could take your braided, frozen dough out of the freezer early Friday morning. It will probably thaw, rise and be ready to bake by mid-day . . . just in time to have fresh-baked challah for Friday night dinner. Just last Sunday, I took some balls of frozen dough out of the freezer early in the morning. It was ready for braiding before noon. I've got some frozen stuff now at various stages, including a round one ready to bake for Rosh Hashanah.

So long and thanks for all the fish.
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  • 4 weeks later...

I couldn't figure out what to do with all of the dough either. Shabbat is just kiddle and me, and we both try not to eat too much challah.... :wacko: My solution has been to send one to my sis and the rest of the loaves to neighbors because, hey, who doesn't like a stray loaf of challah?

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  • 10 months later...

I'm making challahs this year. I usually use a food processor and make sourdough breads. I will probably bake challahs with baker's yeast.

I will depart from tradition and use butter not oil, as I prefer butter and nobody is kosher where I will be eating.

Anybody have any good challah recipes, tips etc.?

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with the holidays right around the corner, it is that time of year for baking those challas. the recipe i have is this one which is used from Rosh Hashanah until Sukkoth:.

Challah for the High Holidays (round)

ingredients:

1 c. boiling water

1/2 c. cold water

1/8 tsp. saffron, crumbled or ground in mortar (optional)

7 T oil (or, in your case, melted butter)

1/2 c. honey

1 tsp salt

1 T. yeast - active dry

2 beaten eggs plus one egg yolk

5 1/2 to 6 c. flour (AP), more if u need it

1/2 to 3/4 c. raisins (optional) YUK in my opinion

egg wash:

1 egg yolk, 1 T water

sesame seeds and/or poppy seeds

method

In large bowl combine:

boiling water and saffron. wait 2 minutes. then add cold water, and honey and mix with whisk. add yeast (make sure water is not too hot) and leave to proof for 10 minutes. whisk. add salt and eggs and mix. add flour until you have a dough which is no longer sticky and knead 10 minutes. u can knead the flour into it in the bowl and then work it on a board after. put it in a greased bowl and cover and let rise 2 hrs. punch down, knead for another 5 minutes or so and let it rise again 1 hr. deflate the dough and let rest 10 minutes. carefully work the raisins in at this point if ur using them. divide dough in 2 equal portions. roll out to about 14 inch ropes with one end more tapered than the other. roll into a turban like shape. preheat oven to 350. and let rest covered for only about 15-20 minutes. glaze with egg wash and sesame/poppy seeds. bake 45 minutes or til golden brown. cook on rack.

enjoy.

btw... i have another recipe for challah made with butter, lots of it, it seems. let me know if u want that. i haven't tried it but it's bound to be good. it's got butter! :raz:

hope that helps u out.

edited to add: looks like Michelle's recipe (see next post) is a good one and has a higher butter content than the one i have. i can still post if u want.

Edited by ohev'ochel (log)
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I made a few batches of challah this past week, for a bar mitzvah. I used the challah recipe from Rose Levy Beranbaum's blog, but my starter is liquid. The dough is beautiful to work with, soft and smells great. Lovely to braid, I made 2 45-oz loaves and 3 30-oz loaves. Nice chewy texture and good color in the finished loaf...

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