The Fresh Loaf

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Challah Problem

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Jonathankane's picture
Jonathankane

Challah Problem

I made my first loaf of Challah from A Blessing of Bread by Maggie Glezer. The loaf split open down the middle. I did raise the temperature accidently to 375 for about 10 minutes and returned it to 325. Could this be the reason it split open? It's moist inside and tastes great. I appreciate any feedback. thanks, Jonathan


 



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louie brown's picture
louie brown

I encountered this recently and found advice to make the braid a little bit loose to allow for expansion. It worked for me. Still, a very nice bread.

Jonathankane's picture
Jonathankane

Thanks for the tip. Check out the video link in the response below.

Mary Clare's picture
Mary Clare

Sometimes if a loaf is underproofed, it will 'burst.' Lovely crust!


Mary Clare

Jonathankane's picture
Jonathankane

I made a new batch today and proofed them less time, maybe that was the problem. Thanks.

Janknitz's picture
Janknitz

Sometimes this happens, I'm not sure why either, but I haven't had the problem in a while.


Here's what I've been doing differently.


1.  I weigh out the dough so the braids are even.  


2.  Instead of simply making hunks of doughs into "snakes", I roll each ball of dough out long and flat (I use a rolling pin) and then roll it up baguette style, pinching the seams tightly.  My theory is that this "aligns" the gluten strands so that they rise more evenly.  (This may be totally wrong, but it's my theory).  


3.  I braid tightly.  I personally think loose braiding contributes to the blowout (others disagree).


4.  I apply a coat of eggwash right after braiding, and I DON'T cover my loaves for the final proofing (perhaps a bit of a "skin" on the braids helps keeps it together too???)


5.  I apply another coat of eggwash just before baking.  Two coats makes a deep, lovely color and shine on the crust.  


Another factor may be an uneven oven heat.  To counteract that, I use a stone on the bottom shelf of my oven and then bake the challah on two baking sheets stacked together (to give an air pan effect)--this is Rose Levy Beranbaum's suggestion and seems to work well.  


Following these steps, my challahs are beautifully even and delicious.  I like Maggie's formula, but my current favorite is King Arthur Flour's "Classic Challah".

Jonathankane's picture
Jonathankane

Thanks for the tips. I'll check out the KA recipe. 

yy's picture
yy

Braiding looser, as suggested above, might help. How many strands are in the braid pictured? It looks like a 5 strand to me from a certain angle, although I might be mistaken. If so, it helps to rotate the loaf right after braiding, so that the bulkiest part of the braid is facing upward instead of to the side. This way, it doesn't fall under its own weight, pulling the cleft open further. The video below is helpful:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=peBLtCEOlA0


notice how he orients the braid (start at 3:45). He moves kind of fast, but you can see how he rotates the loaf before the final proofing.


If your loaf isn't a 5-strand at all, then ignore everything I just said.

Jonathankane's picture
Jonathankane

It's a 5 strand. I'll check out the video. Thanks for the advice.

CoveredInFlour's picture
CoveredInFlour

But I wanted to say it looks absolutely delicious!


I hope the replies offer some help, I know that I've learned somethings from them for my future braids.

Jonathankane's picture
Jonathankane

I made a new batch today, plain and with raisins. I used the Czernowitzer Challah recipe from the same book with a 4 strand braid. This recipe had 2 eggs instead of 3 and used sugar instead of honey. The look and smell good, haven't tried them yet. I proofed these a little less time, maybe that made a difference. I need to work on making the braids a consistent size.


Janknitz's picture
Janknitz

Wow, you've had a busy weekend!


The video shows the same method I use for making the ropes, except I flatten out the dough a bit more before I roll it, baguette style, into a rope.  


If you scale your dough, you can get more even ropes.  And for braids of 3 or 4 I find it helpful to start braiding in the MIDDLE rather than at one end--haven't figured out how to do it for more than 4 strands, though.  


My favorite shape lately has been the 4 rope round--looks like a soccer ball.  I divide a batch of dough into 4 and make 4 smaller challahs out of that.  

CoveredInFlour's picture
CoveredInFlour

Beautiful!


They look amazing, and they must smell terrific! Congratulations!

breadmantalking's picture
breadmantalking

I have posted a challah recipe on my blog which I humbly think is pretty good! You can find it at:


 


http://breadmantalking.blogspot.com/2009/10/challah.html


Enjoy!


David

Jonathankane's picture
Jonathankane

I'll try your recipe and let you know how it turns out. Thanks, Jonathan