The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


Urchina's picture

ITJB Round 2 Week 2: Bakery Challah (p. 26): 4/28/12 to 5/5/12

April 30, 2012 - 9:45am -- Urchina

Just in time for Cinco de Mayo (OK, not really) -- bakery challah! I'd never made challah before test-baking for this book, and I can't believe I missed out on so many years of this fantastic bread. It's beautiful, it's tasty, it's so much easier than it looks. 

I think I'm going to go all-out with a really snazzy braid this time -- but the braiding directions in the book make it easy. (And watch -- now that I've announced my intentions to the world, I'll have the worst-ever braid. Murphy's Law lives at my house). 

Hope everyone enjoys this one -- 


scake's picture

waiting easter in Italy

April 9, 2012 - 5:02am -- scake

Happy Easter to everybody! Here in the North part of Italy we have cold but sunny days.

I've cooked for my family and friends these Hot Cross Buns e this sweet bread that seems Challah (jewish) but is Tsoureki (greek cristian-ortodox) 'cause i love butter in sweets but i also like the look of this six-arms string!!!

dabrownman's picture

Well, I am happy as punch with the latest version of my multi grain challah bread that is baked at 450F and steamed in the oven for 20 minutes -verses the cloche.  But, I am disappointed I was not able to control my experiment to find out if the cloche or oven steaming method was better.  The higher temperature worked best for both but, this attempt, the bread rose much higher and faster than the Wagner Ware loaf even though  both were identical in every way.  The only thing I can think of is that the starter, which was the same for each, was more mature and stronger than it was the week before.

I noticed this time, during the levain build, it doubled in 4 hours instead of the 8 hours it took the last time.  This is a new SD starter that is less than 3 weeks old (started the sourdolady way).  When the loaf went into the baking pan it appeared to be exactly like the cloched loaf.  But, the version 4, did rise higher during fermentation and it also rose higher in the fridge during retard and rose higher after it was taken out of the fridge this morning - even thought the retard was 6 hours less and the final rise before the oven was 2 hours less.

All things considered, I think that either cloched or baked in a steamed oven, this bread works equally well both ways and it shows that that a fully mature and strong starter with a proper build is essential to bread making.  I had half a loaf of the clotched verion 3 to compare in the photos that follow.  The version 4 crum is far superior, lighter and open.  The crust is the same as the clotched.  I like the taste of the clotched better propably because it was hours longer in the making and developed more SD flavor.

I think I can reproduce version 4 and will figure out a way to slow it down and make the flavor a litttle better.


What can Ido to improve this bread now.  Autolayse the flour before adding the levain.  Cut down the amount of levain to extend the time.  lower the temp of the ferment and post retard?  Any thing else?

Here are the pics before retard.


After retard

After poor slash - My worse bread making skill by far

In the oven

20 minutes later steam comes out

Oven off and door craked open - temp 205 F

Version 4 twice as high as version 3

crumb shot and others






dabrownman's picture

After changing my Multi grain Challah recipe to make it a S&F long ferment and retard bread, I decided to see if baking it in a cloche would make for an even better every day sandwich bread.  My Mother In Laws old Warner Ware Roaster 13" X 10" X 8" high seemed to be the only thing we own that might fit the bill.  I also has a nice rack to hold the bread pan off the bottom.    I heated the oven to 500 F (convection on) and put the entire roaster in the oven to heat up for 45 minuted.  No normal steam at all.  Once the roaster was hot ,I easily dropped the loaf pan in with oven mitts on and baked the loaf in the covered roaster for the first 20 minutes, turning the temperature down to 450 F convection.

The loaf, before it went into the roaster, had doubled in size from the overnight retard even though it still only came half way up the pan.  I was making a small test loaf.  The spring was an additional 100% as the finished loaf doubled again in the roaster.  After 20 minutes I took the roaster out of the oven, took the bread out of it and put the bread back into the oven to reach 200 F in the center of the loaf.  I then turned off then oven, cracked the door open and allowed the crust to dry.

The only thing I can say is that this might be the best loaf of this bread I have ever baked.  The crust was very dark brown with light brown specks.  Just beautiful!!  It was crispy crunchy yet still chewy.  The crumb was moist, light and also speckled with light brown flakes.  It tasted fantastic.  I bake this bread every week and this was by far the best.  I will bake it this way from now on.  The previous attempt I baked at 350 F with steam so the higher temperature played a big part I am sure.  So I will bake it next time the old way, No Cloche, but at the higher temperature to see what effects that has on this bread.

And who wouldn't want this bread to sop up a nice Garbonzo Bean Soup?

dabrownman's picture

Before TFL came into my world, I had a multi grain, seeded, SD challah that I baked every week for my daily sandwich loaf. I called it my made up name Brachflachen Mehrere Vollkombrot. It was the standard; mix about 20 ingredients, kneed for 10 minutes let rise, punch down, let rise in the loaf pan, egg wash, slash and bake a 350 until 205 F. It took about 8 hours from start to finish - and I thought that was slow bread!! After finding out the slow bread was really 3 days - not 8 hours, I converted my old recipe to make it take nearly forever to make - instead of just a really long time :-) Now it is a 12 hour levain build, long S&F ferment, long retard and long after fridge rise bread. I really like the way it came out. Nice dark crispy, crunchy crust with Nijella and sesame seeds, soft, moist, small holed crumb with subtle SD taste that made great tasting toast too. It is still my favorite sandwich challah loaf .

The second shot of the crub says a lot about me and my foodie nature.  Home made; challah, dijon mustard, pickles, cheese, meat and home grown; lettuce and tomatoes.

The 3rd shot means it is home made Aranchello, Minneochello and Limochello time too !!!!!

loydb's picture

Today was the final stretch before heading to the in-laws for Christmas. I spent pretty much the whole day in the kitchen, minus a trip to the grocery store. The takeaway:

First, this was week 3 of the Inside the Jewish Bakery challenge. I haven't actually gotten to taste the results, so my comments are limited. I did a four-high braid, and had a little trouble getting the ends to stick together. I ended up wetting my fingers and kind of blending it, which seemed to work. There are some shots of the initial braiding and the final rise at the bottom. On top of the two challah loaves, I also did a pullman pan full of PR's pannetone recipe. I used dried strawberriers, dried orange-infused cranberries, and dried sour cherries that I soaked for a day in apple brandy (plus the vanilla and orange extract). For the nuts, I used 5 oz of macadamias and 2 oz of almonds. Finally, another pan of Mohn bars from week one of the ITJB.



SadieRose's picture

Perfecting Challah

November 16, 2011 - 9:15pm -- SadieRose

Hello all,

I am a novice bread baker who has fallen head over heels for challah. Maybe it's the Hebrew roots of my name, Sadie, or maybe it's the amazing eggy deliciousness that is challah. Either way, I would like to perfect this bread and as a novice it's hard to know what exactly I am doing wrong since there seem to be so many variables in the science of bread baking.

This is the challah that came out of my oven not 15 minutes ago:


Subscribe to RSS - challah