Challah troubleshooting - help!
Apologies if this isn't the best corner of the forum to post in.
Dear Fresh Loaf-ers.
Can anyone help me out with my challah questions? Or point me in the right direction of some resources?
I'm a super-newbie bread baker, so I'm a little overwhelmed by the variables involved, and I need some advice as to what may be going on.
Here's the deal:
I've tried a handful of times to bake challah, and each time things work perfectly, until the shaping stage. My dough is proofed nicely (by this, I mean that it has risen to about double its size, and a dent made by my finger doesn't bounce back), but when I got to shape the braids, there is WAY too much elasticity in the dough, and it can't keep a simple shape. Am I out to lunch on what I'm supposed to be doing?
Could it be that I'm over- or under-proofing my dough? Does it need to rise ONCE or TWICE before shaping? Some recipes say once and some forum posts say twice. Is there any sort of golden rule?
I've been frantically reading posts, and from what I can understand, I don't think it's a hydration issue. I live in the prairies of Western Canada, where it's very dry, so I add a tiny bit more water to my dough in order for it to absorb all the required flour.
The texture of the dough is quite soft (and awesome). It can be a little bit sticky when I'm deflating the dough, but I just add a bit of flour to my hands and that takes care of it.
I guess my main question is: Can someone outline the steps in making challah?! I know it sounds really lame, but I have no idea if I'm on the right track at all.