A distant relative asked me if I would provide the Challah for the blessing at her Son's wedding.
I would have complete freedom of choice for all the parameters, e.g. amount, shape, formula.
The 200 guests were to be seated at 18 tables.
After some deliberation I decided to bake 1 Challah for each table, and a special one for the head table.
I thought I'd get 4 X 500g into the oven, which would require 5 batches.
I flicked through Hamelman's "Bread" while my dearest wife was watching. She spotted the Hungarian Wedding Braid. That was it! Had to do it now.
The recipe is calculated for a bread diameter of 40cm, too big for my domestic oven. I can accommodate just above 30 cm.
So I did some experiments with the Eggless Water Challah dough from "Inside The Jewish Bakery (ITJB)", an excellent dough to shape and very tasty, too.
I decided that for a 30cm Wedding Bread the best weight for a short strand was 50g, and the long strand would be 250g.
My oven can accommodate 2 of these: now I was looking at producing 9 batches for the Hungarian Breads, plus one for the top-table challah.
On Friday evening I scaled all ingredients for the 12 Kg of ITJB Bakery Challah - flour, water, salt, yeast, sugar, oil and packed them for each batch individually - with exception of the 70 egg yolks...
The next step was creating a spreadsheet that told me what I had to do in 10-minute increments.
For a considerable amount of time I would have 5 batches going simultaneously.
It turned out that the first top-table challah (12 strand double decker) didn't rise well (handling, I suppose), so I had to add another batch.
I started at 5am on Saturday, at my home in Brighton, and was ready to deliver in London by 6.30pm. Phew.
Now some pictures:
Shaping started with scaling the dough and shaping the strands: 7 for each bread, 2 breads in each batch:
To get the star-in wheel shape I had made a template, 30cm in diameter:
The first crossover
The second crossover -the star shape becomes apparent:
And the ring to complete the bread:
Proofing several batches at different stages:
Glazing with egg - I used 4 eggs for the glaze alone
Luckily I had Spock and Kirk with me ...
The pile of finished breads is growing
And boxed, ready for shipping
Not all breads fitted in this giant box ...
Then off to London with public transport
I have no pictures from the wedding (on Sunday) - but there was not much time to take pictures, the challahs were very well received.