The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

ITJB Week 3: Honey Whole Wheat Challah (p. 31), 12/17/11 - 12/24/11

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Urchina's picture
Urchina

ITJB Week 3: Honey Whole Wheat Challah (p. 31), 12/17/11 - 12/24/11

I'd never made challah before test-baking for ITJB, and just loved the beauty and ease of it. I chose this bread for this week because our traditional Christmas Eve dinner is clam chowder with homemade bread (usually Swedish limpa). This year I'm going to substitute this challah for the limpa -- different culture, equally festive. I'm especially looking forward to the variety of braids we come up with -- I tested the six-strand bakery braid in the book and it's a stunner and not as hard as it appears. Looking forward to seeing (and yes, finally, posting) some great pictures this week!

Elagins's picture
Elagins

*wink*

Stan

gmagmabaking2's picture
gmagmabaking2

had a great time making the challa... Gmabaking is the lead sister (elder and most experienced), she was one of the recipe testers for creating this great cookbook.  Her challa was a great braid, unencumbered, on a stone.  My younger sister and I joined the challenge at her encouragement, after receiving the book from her as a gift.  We have made each of the recipes on the same day, at the same time... we post as gmabaking2 and gmagmabaking2, making allowances for time zone changes... we are really enjoying this, back to the point....  my younger sister made one in a braid in a loaf pan and one without... I (the middle sister) made both of my braids in loaf pans.  

The breads are very light and wonderful. We all agreed that we like the dough and the texture and they taste great... If I could successfully load pictures you would see how beautiful, yet different, each loaf is.  Thanks for including us. Looking forward to next week.

http://s1126.photobucket.com/albums/l606/dlkrutsch/?action=view&current=Photo12161340.jpg#!oZZ2QQcurrentZZhttp%

gmagmabaking2's picture
gmagmabaking2

printed my whole album.... good thing there are only "foodie" pictures there!

KMIAA's picture
KMIAA

I made the bread.  Came out ok.  I didn't do the braid but spirals.  I should try and do braiding but am a bit intimidated.  My hubby isn't crazy for whole wheat but  he will eat it. 

gmagmabaking2's picture
gmagmabaking2

I know the challa is supposed to be eaten with the Sabbath meal, but my husband and I had to freeze one loaf and the other is still making absolutely great toast! Probably the best wheat bread recipe I have ever used. Thanks ITJB!

bridgebum's picture
bridgebum

My wife and I love the whole wheat challah!  It's got a nice 'eggy' flavor with a hint of sweetness from the honey.  The dough was a little stiffer than I thought it would be, and it took around 2 hours to double (69 F.).  Neither of us have done much braiding, so we made one as a high 4-strand and the other as a 6-strand.  We'll be making this one again!

bonnibakes's picture
bonnibakes

I'm wondering whether that was because the wind was knocked out of each strand as we compressed them to elongate them. The proofing was adequate and the end product tasted good, but the loaf was denser than any challah I've had. Was that because of the white whole wheat flour?

Norm & Stan, the pictures and directions for how to make a 6 strand braid were terrific! We thought that would be the hardest part but it went so quickly, we were sad to stop.

I'm also writing a blog, bonnibakesbrooklyn.blogspot.com which follows my weekly participation in this challenge (except for the next two weeks when I'll be traveling). My partner is a beautiful 19 year old baking assistant from my former bakery/cafe, who has worked for me since she was 13. Together each Friday we bake that week's Challenge recipe, then share samples with lots of people. Some order that item to be baked for them the following week. It's fun for us. I miss enjoying these delicious baked goods because I grew up in Brooklyn and now live in Florida. My partner Anna wants to learn how to bake some of the things her late Czech grandmother used to make for her father. Other people lived in places where these items were common place. Not now, not here. It makes us all smile and spin old stories.

 

Norm, thanks so much for being willing to share your wealth of knowledge. Stan, thanks so much for embracing the idea and fleshing it out. Thanks to all of the recipe testers. I've done that for some of Peter Reinhart's books and I know how exciting it is when all of the work is printed and published. Kendra, thanks so much to organizing our rag tag culinary army. I'm looking forward to the comraderie of baking our way through the rest. Best wishes for a Happy Healthy Flour-filled 2012.

Bonni

gmagmabaking2's picture
gmagmabaking2

Those are amazing braids... Good job!

HeidiH's picture
HeidiH

Gorgeous!

Urchina's picture
Urchina

Those are knockout braids, Bonni! Gorgeous!

 

linder's picture
linder

Bridgebum,

Thank you for the info re: 2 hour rise.  I just put the dough together this evening. My house is at 68F and after 1/2 hour the dough looked like it hadn't done much at all.  Did a stretch and fold and put it back in the bowl to rise some more. 

I've got my fingers crossed (toes too).

Linda

HeidiH's picture
HeidiH

I've made this recipe a couple times already so I know we like this bread.  Braiding is not my forte.  Both of these were following the same 4-strand braiding instructions!  Hard to believe, eh? 

The one on the left is decorated with alternating onion flakes and poppy seeds.  The one on the right with nigella, sesame, black sesame, and toasted sesame.

This recipe also makes great bread using 100%  NYBakers's "Farine de Compagne," which I found out through a happy accident one day when I found myself out of whole wheat flour.  Shown in the picture below, these were 3-strand loaves decorated with alternating toasted sesame, black sesame, and coarse salt.

Nothing like a great recipe to make great bread!

Now, if you will excuse us, being athiests with catholic tastes, we will be having pulled pork barbecue and coleslaw sandwiches on this bread tonight. 

Urchina's picture
Urchina

I can not get over the bang for the buck that challah gives -- it's a showstopper without a lot of hassle. I liked this one, but mine turned out a trifle dry, and I wonder if I overbaked it a bit. I also got colossal oven spring on the big loaf, which went into the oven about 10 minutes before the little loaves, and I wonder if it underproofed. The braids nearly tore apart and you can see the stretch marks on the photos.

We like challah a lot, but we REALLY like it toasted the next day, so I'm looking forward to morning toast!

linder's picture
linder

Urchina,

That's a beautiful loaf.  I'm glad to know your loaves were smallish.  I proofing mine now and they seem little to me.  It's difficult to get a sense of proportion in the photos unless there is something next to the bread that would give you a hint.  Thanks for posting the photo - nice braid too.

Linda

HeidiH's picture
HeidiH

What a nice, golden-red-brown color!

linder's picture
linder

Here are the two challahs fresh out of the oven.  The aroma of these loaves is heavenly!  But I will wait until tomorrow morning to have some for breakfast.  They baked the full 40 minutes and I got quite a bit of oven spring so the loaves are full and round.  If they taste as good as they smell I'll be a happy camper.  HeidiH, I liked your idea of using a variety of seeds.

 

GermanFoodie's picture
GermanFoodie

are not as dark as everybody else's, but they still turned out nicely. I like regular challah better, but that's just me. :)

joyfulbaker's picture
joyfulbaker

This challah rose beautifully and smelled heavenly.  I can't get a crumb shot because I baked it a couple of days before the kids arrive for Shabbat Chanukah.  I want it absolutely fresh and will thaw and refresh it for Friday dinner.  Here's what I did:  For the whole wheat I used spelt and actually reduced the amount (and substituted bread flour) by one cup.  I know my family's taste, so I didn't want to fool around at this point.  I scaled the pieces (4 1/4 oz. for the 6-braid and 4 oz. for the 5-braid (first time I've done a 5, a little tricky but cute).  I had about 2 1/2 oz. left for a challah twist for the little granddaughter.  (She loves her own challah so she can say the blessing herself.)  I sheeted each piece before rolling the strands.  I egg washed once before proofing and once before baking (gently!).  Usually I proof in my microwave (boil a cup of water first for moisture, then turn off the micro), but this time the baking sheet was too large for that.  I actually have a warming drawer (K/A) with a proofing setting, so I used that.  It really worked fast!  I sprinkled sesame and poppy seeds on the large loaves, just sesame on the twist (I know her preferences, and they're definite!).  I took photos of the whole process:



       

    

 

 

 

 

 

   

linder's picture
linder

Joyfullbaker -

Those are really lovely braids.  Also, I liked your technique for shaping the strands - much nicer than trying to elongate balls of dough.

Linda

Elagins's picture
Elagins

those are, takeh, very balabatishe braids.  Happy Chanukah to you and Jerry ... you do the book proud, Joy.

Stan

carlene's picture
carlene

This bread was excellent.  My first rise also took two hours,  in fact I was a bit worried after the first hour, but it did rise quite nicely with added time.   I did a 3 strand braid with one loaf, and it was too easy, so I attempted a 5 strand braid with the second loaf and lost the rhythm about half way through.   I will definitely make this again and practice the 5 strand braid.  I took the bread to work and it got rave reviews.  Someone gave me a jar of Strawberry jam as a Christmas gift that morning so we opened it immediately and set it out with the bread.  It’s excellent toasted with jam.

Carlene

joyfulbaker's picture
joyfulbaker

So glad you liked the method for rolling the strands, Linda, and thanks for the kind words.  

Stan, I so appreciate your comments, and Happy Chanukah to you and your family.

Carlene, I think the 5-braid is more difficult than the 4-braid (either "low" or "high"); keep at it.  The braiding instructions in the book are the best.

Joy

carlene's picture
carlene

Joy --Thanks for the encouragement I am going to keep trying the braiding.   I may try your sheeting technique next time.  Your braids were beautiful!

loydb's picture
loydb

It's been a long day of nothing but baking. It's driving me crazy not tasting the challah, but that will have to wait for tomorrow or Sunday. The high-four braids came out pretty, at least!

 

 

HeidiH's picture
HeidiH

Great looking loaves!

joyfulbaker's picture
joyfulbaker

for the kind words.  I definitely like the sheeting method best.  I first saw it on a video from finecooking.com of Maggie Glezer braiding challah; she says that sheeting creates tighter strands which will give more oven spring.  Here's the link:  http://www.finecooking.com/videos/braiding-challah.aspx.  Between her technique and the easy-to-follow directions in ITJB (and delightful and instructive videos on the nybakers.com web site), it'll be a "piece of cake" -- er, challah!

Joy

 

joyfulbaker's picture
joyfulbaker

and you're right, the tasting is key.  I know this recipe was developed to recall bread in the Eastern European shtetl, when flour such as we take for granted was not available.  It did handle, take shape and rise very nicely.  The taste was more like a "daily bread" than a celebratory one.  It's less sweet than challah I usually bake, and it apparently needs a little longer (and perhaps slightly lower temp than my customary 375 F) baking time, maybe because of the percentage of whole wheat (and I even reduced that amount).  But I truly understand the reason for this formula and appreciate the challenge of baking it.

Joy

carlene's picture
carlene

Ok I couldn't resist...I made the Challah again and took Joy's advice to try the high four braid with much better success.  They are going with us to Christmas dinner at my firends house tomorrow!

Carlene

linder's picture
linder

Carlene, your high four strand braids are beautiful! I'm sure they will be the hit of the dinner.  I liked the challah recipe so much I decided to try some pan loaves of it.  The two loaves I made earlier this week are GONE! (OK , one we gave away as a gift) But the other one, my husband and I chipped away at it until there is no more.  The pan loaves are doing their final rise and then into the oven they go.  I really like this recipe - nice and light and eggy.

Linda

gmagmabaking2's picture
gmagmabaking2

I agree this honey wheat recipe is great... I made my braids and then put them in the loaf pans... looks all "challa-y" and yet slices great for sandwiches and toast. Great taste and good crumb.

linder's picture
linder

I had to try these because the first loaves were so good.  This is our toasting bread for the week (haha!)  The only change I made to the recipe was to bake these loaves for almost 40 minutes to ensure they were done in the middle -25 minutes just seemed too short to me.  Hope they aren't dry because of it.

 

mrfrost's picture
mrfrost

Nice loaves. Are you sure about the directed baking time?

The recipe "reprinted" here at Fresh Loaf calls for 30 - 40 minutes. Typo maybe?

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/recipes/honeywholewheatchallah

linder's picture
linder

Mrfrost -

Yes the regular challah recipe states 30-40 minutes but in the shaping challah sections where different braids are shown, the Pan Challahs secion states bake for 25 minutes.

Linda

cheesehappens's picture
cheesehappens

The question of when to take loaves out of the oven was asked early - and only once - during a three-day baking class with Jeffrey Hamelman: when they're done. I'm not repeating this advice to be snarky, but to encourage fellow bakers to engage your senses and trust your instincts. It's also important to remember you will learn as much or more from your mistakes. BTW, this honey whole wheat challah recipe is a terrific confidence-builder for the beginning bread baker. Thanks, Stan and Norman and everyone who is posting. I am loving baking along with people all over the world and of all skill levels.

joyfulbaker's picture
joyfulbaker

These look wonderful!  I think, for me, anyway, the greatest enjoyment in making challah is the esthetic result--which comes with any braided or specially shaped bread.  Hope they made your holiday table shine!  

Happy New Year,

Joy

dawkins's picture
dawkins

Some kind of big Christmas holiday hoo-hah got in the way of my posting - can you believe it? ;o)

Anyhow, this challah was delicious, but my making of it was very rushed pre-Christmas, around work etc. Not my best effort, but thanks to the tasty recipe it was lovely to eat:

The photo makes them look a bit singed, but they weren't, honest!

HeidiH's picture
HeidiH

sad that our challah is gone ... along with a lot of butter ... who's been stealing the butter? ;-)

linder's picture
linder

Yes, I know what you mean HeidiH.  We have one loaf of challah left (out of four!) and it's just the hubby and me - who ate all that bread?  It must be elves who sneak in the middle of the night and steal the bread and butter, got to be!

Linda

littlelisa's picture
littlelisa

OK, I finally posted my challahs... Would love to hear what y'all think of the matter of pre-fermenting enriched doughs and other variations raised in the blog post:

http://relentlessabundance.wordpress.com/2012/01/13/itjb-honey-wholewheat-challah/

joyfulbaker's picture
joyfulbaker

Good for you, Lisa, doing it 'your way.'  It seems to me there are some old posts on TFL describing challah with pre-ferment.  Here's one of them, posting by arzajac: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/8835/buying-some-time#comment-45407.  (Nice photo of the beautiful bread further down the page.)   I frequently mix my challah dough the night before and let it bulk ferment in the fridge overnight (Maggie Glezer's suggestion), which counts as fermentation, albeit the entire amount of dough.  Awhile ago, I read in one of Rose Levy Beranbaum's blogs that she adds some 'old' (less than one week old, if I remember correctly) sourdough starter to her dough, so I have followed her lead and sometimes add about 2 TBSP of starter to some of my challah doughs.  It gives a very moist and flavorful loaf with good keeping quality.  Maggie Glezer in A Blessing of Bread has a recipe called 'my sourdough challah,' with much more starter, and which has complex flavor, a bit of sweet and sour if you know what I mean, also good keeping quality and delicious.  So perhaps you are baking in a 'new' tradition for challah, adding to flavor and keeping quality.  I also like pan challahs in that there is more surface area for sandwiches and, for Sunday morning, great French toast, so sometimes that's the way to go.  Thanks for your post and your freedom to experiment!

Joy

littlelisa's picture
littlelisa

Now that you mention it, Molly Katzen (in Still Life With Menu as well as The Enchanted Broccoli Forest) advises that challah can be made a while ahead and refrigerated overnight before baking. I've done that plenty times and never really thought of it as a preferment - rather as a convenient compromise. Thanks for the links!

Lisa