The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


dmsnyder's picture

The Basic Country Bread from Tartine Bread is among my favorites, but I haven't baked it in a while. After my positive experience with Central Milling's "Organic Fine Whole Wheat" flour used to make the whole wheat bread from BBA, I wanted to try it in the Tartine BCB. In summary, it was wonderful.

I shaped the loaves as bâtards and proofed them in cotton-lined brotformen. They were baked on my baking stone with my usual steaming method, rather than in cast iron dutch ovens. My starter was very frisky this weekend, and the loaves got somewhat over-proofed. The bloom suffered, but I got great oven spring and the crumb structure was nice. The crust was crunchy, and the flavor was delicious as always. 

I have made Maggie Glezer's "own" challah in the sourdough version several times. (See Sourdough Challah from "A Blessing of Bread") I really like the mild sourdough tang on top of the honey sweetness and eggy richness of this bread. Today, for the first time, I baked the challah as pan loaves. I decided to do this both to save a little time - this recipe requires a good 9 hours all together on the day the bread is baked - and because my plan was to use the bread for toast and french toast.

I divided the dough into six equal parts and shaped each as a round. Each pan got three rounds. When I was a child, the local Jewish bakery made what they called "egg bread" in this shape. I don't know if they used the same dough they shaped as braided challot, but the recipe for egg bread in Greenstein's Secrets of a Jewish Baker is less enriched than his challah.

The 470 g of dough in each pan turned out to be too little to fill the pans after the dough had tripled in volume. Consequently, the profile of the loaves is less high than what I had intended, even with very good oven spring. Otherwise, I count this a success.

Happy Baking!



HokeyPokey's picture

I have been thinking about making challah for a while now. I do like proper Jewish challah, with its lovely soft and buttery texture, seeing the actual folds and strands in each slice. I have tried making challah twice before with mixed results – this time I’ve decided to make up my own recipe, roughly based on my previous attempts, pure sourdough, with saffron and vanilla.

I’ve decided that I like the flavour of brioche better than challah, to me brioche has a stronger flavour (much MUCH more butter in brioche recipe) , however, challah does look pretty and saffron makes things a bit more interesting.




Full recipe and more photos on my blog here

joyfulbaker's picture

Spelt flour in challah

June 5, 2011 - 1:21pm -- joyfulbaker

Although I've been making challah for a long time and have tried various recipes, lately it has seemed bland.  Maybe it's because I've gotten so used to multigrain sourdough hearth breads for the balance of the week.  However, somewhere I heard or read that adding spelt flour to challah dough gives it a sweet, nutty flavor.  Has anyone tried it, and, if so, what proportion of spelt flour have you used?  I'd love your recipe!

Winnish's picture

CHALLAH made of white flour mixed with semolina flour.


Soft, rich and lightly sweetened CHALLAH



Recipe and more photos - please check my blog at this link

Google translator is available on top left side-bar



honeymustard's picture

Challah and I have a history.

When I was 15, I tried making my first bread. Having watched my mother (but never having helped her) since I was little, making bread (particularly oatmeal brown bread) from scratch, I figured it would be a snap. After all, I was able to pick up my mother's cookies and cake recipes with no problem, so what's so different about bread?

I was about to find out.

Ambitious as I was, I took the prettiest bread in the recipe book I could find, and that was definitely challah. But challah fooled me three time s in a row, and I failed each time I tried to make the bread rise. I didn't realize how much a process, an art, bread making was at the time. Now I feel bad for belittling bread-making. But I've made up for it over the last decade. But--for no reason in particular--I'd not tried challah again since those failed three tries. I suppose I don't really have a real reason; I'm painfully Protestant and not at all Jewish, not a speck. But it doesn't stop me from admiring the loaf.

My admiration got the best of me, and I used the White Egg Bread recipe from Tassajara to make it into a couple loaves of challah.


I fully admit this isn't a traditional challah. It doesn't stop it from being pretty fantastic though. I did a four-strand braid, which I've never done before, and was able to accomplish through the help of my would-be sister-in-law, who watched me meticulously (and I thank her for it).

In order to brown the loaves, I put in on the lowest rack in my oven for the first 1/2 hour, and then brought it up to the highest for the second 1/2 hour after applying a second layer of egg white wash. They browned nicely, but I would still like to achieve that really elusive, beautiful, high-gloss finish at some point. Ah well. I'm working on it.

This successful bread came after a very unsuccessful try at caraway rye bread that was such a fail that I'm ashamed to even post about it. The whole process worked beautifully, except that in the final rise, it seemed to flatten for some reason. I've never had that happen before, so I have no explanation. I don't want to talk about it.

But in all seriousness, this bread makes me happy. Challah and I have come to a truce, for now. And all of it that was in the house is already gone.

GSnyde's picture

Mixed Flowers and Mixed Flours


Our plum tree blossoms  are gone and it’s leafing out (background of challah pic below).  And Daylight Savings Time stole an hour today.  So it must be Spring (despite the drizzle outdoors).   The baking this weekend followed the dinners.  Roast Chicken calls for Challah.  Fresh Pasta and Lamb Ragu calls for Sourdough.

The Challah bake was just the usual. No experiments.  Maggie Glezer’s recipe is perfect enough.  Always reliable and always delicious.



The Sourdough bake involved some tinkering with my “San Francisco Country Sourdough” formula.  It had been a couple months since I’d last played with this part-whole-grain pain au levain.   I upped the percentage of whole wheat to 11%.   I used Central Milling Organic Artisan Baker’s Craft (enriched) white flour.  I baked it into a large batard (one kilo) and two mini-baguettes.



I think the evenness of the crust color on the baguettes may be due, in part to the malted barley flour in the Central Milling Organic Artisan Baker’s Craft flour, and in part to the thorough pre-heating of my oven and stone.   The darker edge of the grigne on the batard shows I forgot to turn the oven down after the loaf went in until I removed Sylvia’s Magic Towel set-up (d’Oh!).

The crumb texture is very nice, moist and medium airy, just as I like it.  It has a good sour flavor.  I let the liquid levain ripen for 16 hours and the dough retarded for about 16 hours.  My sourdough-lovin’ spouse describes her ideal sourdough simply as “fairly- but not super-sour, moist and chewy inside, crispy outside”.  She says this one hit the mark.  One baguette gone already.



Here’s the tweaked formula:

San Francisco Country Sourdough (Sourdough Pain de Campagne) version 3-13-11

Yield: Two 750g  Loaves; or Three Mini-Baguettes (235g each) and one 800g Loaf; or One 1000g loaf and two 250g baguettes; or…   



100 grams   AP flour

24 grams  Whole Wheat flour

12 grams  Whole rye flour

170 grams   Water, luke warm

28     Mature culture (75% hydration)

FINAL DOUGH (67% hydration, including levain)

640 grams   All-Purpose flour (83%)*

85 grams  Whole wheat flour (11%)**

45 grams   Whole rye flour (6%)

435 grams   Water at room temperature (56%)

17 grams   Salt (2%)

306     Liquid levain  (48%)   

* 3-13 used CM Artisan Baker’s Craft (malted)

** 3-13 used CM Organic Hi-protein fine whole wheat


1. LIQUID LEVAIN:  Make the final build 12 to 16 hours before the final mix, and let stand in a covered container at about 70°F

2. MIXING: Add all the ingredients to the mixing bowl, including the levain, but not the salt. Mix just until the ingredients are incorporated into a shaggy mass. Correct the hydration as necessary.  Cover the bowl with plastic and let stand for an autolyse phase of 30 to 60 minutes. At the end of the autolyse, sprinkle the salt over the surface of the dough, and finish mixing 5 minutes. The dough should have a medium consistency. 

3. BULK FERMENTATION WITH S&F:  3 hours. Stretch and fold the dough in the bowl twice 30-strokes at 45-minute intervals.  Place dough ball in lightly oiled bowl, and stretch and fold on lightly floured board at 45 minutes.  If the dough has not increased in size by 75% or so, let it go a bit longer.

4. RETARDED BULK FERMENTATION (optional):  After second S&F on board, form dough into ball and then place again in lightly oiled bowl.  Refrigerate 8-20 hours, depending on sourness desired and scheduling convenience.

5. DIVIDING AND SHAPING: [Note: if bulk retarded, let dough come to room temperature for 30-90 minutes before pre-shaping.]  Divide the dough into pieces and pre-shape.  Let sit on board for 30-45 minutes, and then shape into boules or batards or baguettes.

6. PROOFING: Approximately 1.5 to 2.5 hours at 72° F. Ready when poke test dictates.  Pre-heat oven to 500 with steam apparatus in place.

7. BAKING: Slash loaves.  Bake with steam, on stone.  Turn oven to 460 °F after it hits 500F after loading loaves.  Remove steaming apparatus after 12 minutes (10 for baguettes). Bake for 35 to 40 minutes total (for 750g loaves; less for smaller loaves).   Rotate loaves for evenness as necessary.  When done (205 F internal temp), leave loaves on stone with oven door ajar 10 minutes.

Happy Spring!



Jo_Jo_'s picture

The crumb was wonderful and the bread tastes great. The crust is flaky crisp, and this is definitely a bread I will be making more often. The best "wonder" bread I have ever had.


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I totally forgot to take pictures till I moved my dough to the greased bowl to rise. Here is is about 15 minutes after it started it's first rise.  I mixed the dough in my kitchenaid, using my dough hook.  It was pretty wet and sticky so I gave it a half hour autolyse, then kneaded the dough for 6 minutes.  It then formed into a really nice handling dough.

Twice the size and ready to be split for braiding.

Made it into a rough split, then allowed to rest for 10 minutes.

Rolled out into thin ropes for braiding.  I made them to long for a single loaf, so cut them into two pieces for two loaves.

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One braided, the other half way done.  The dough was easy to handle, and braided very easily.

All finished braiding, ready for proofing.  They took 75 minutes to proof.

Almost done and ready for baking, they are looking pretty good so far.

I baked these at 350* for 45 minutes on my pizza stone, which worked really well.  They looked and smelled really good when I pulled them from the oven and covered them with the flour sack towels to cool for a couple hours.  I was way to much in a hurry while making these, so I think that effected the entire shaping and braiding process.  The other's loaves are so much nicer looking then mine, but I will have plenty of opportunity to try this again when I am not feeling so rushed. 

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em120392's picture

Challah Bread

Hey Guys! I've been baking my way through The Bread Baker's Apprentice for a high school project. Here's my entry for Challah from a blog about bread which my brother and I share!

There are two Hebrew words for bread: lichem is an everyday bread and challah is the bread eaten on Sabbath, the day of rest. Challah is an enriched bread with oil, sugar and eggs, while Lichem is a basic lean dough. Before the bread is baked, the baker sacrifices a piece of the dough to the Gods. At any event, two challahs are two challahs must be blessed to prevent the breads from being shamed. To do so, the bread is placed under a challah Cover while the wine is being blessed. At Sabbath dinner, before the bread can be broken, the family must say in Hebrew, "Blessed are you, Lord Our God, king of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth."

Traditionally, challah is braided into a long loaf and lacquered with egg wash on the Sabbath. On Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, challah is circularly shaped to represent the coming year and long life. Sometimes it is shaped like a ladder, to symbolize the ascent to God after death. In comparison to the regular Sabbath Challah, the holiday bread is sometimes enriched with raisins or saffron, which were considered prized ingredients.

In comparison to his other recipes, Reinhart does not use a preferment in his challah recipe. Since it's an enriched bread, most of the flavor and texture comes from the eggs and sugar.

I began by mixing together the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, salt and yeast. In another bowl, I mixed together eggs, egg yolks, water and oil. Using my new dough whisk, I stirred the wet into the dry until it made a shaggy dough. I added more flour so the dough was not sticky, and kneaded it for about 6 minutes, until it passed the windowpane test.

I let the dough rise for the first time for about an hour. At this point, Reinhart suggests to punch down the dough and knead for a few moments. Then, I let the dough rise for another two hours, until it doubled in size. Then, divided the dough in six equal pieces (making two loaves), shaped them into balls, and let the gluten relax for about 20 minutes.

With a dough ball in hand, I pressed the dough against the counter, slightly elongating it. Next, with two hands, I pushed the dough outwards in order to make it into a long strand. When I thought I reached my desired length, the dough shrank back slightly. So, I let the dough relax for a few minutes, and then stretched each section into a foot and a half length strand.

Next, I began braiding the strands. I opted to make two 3-strand braids so I wouldn't have one gigantic loaf that we'd never be able to finish. Beginning at the midpoint of the strands, I laid the three strands next to each other, and placed the right strand over the middle strand. Then, I placed the left strand over the middle strand, and continued braiding like I would hair. When I reached the end, I turned the loaf around 180 degrees, and braded the other side. Then, I rolled the ends together by pushing the dough against the counter with the heel of my hands. I tucked the ends underneath the loaf so it would have a finished look.

When I looked at the time, I realized it would be past midnight by the time the challahs proofed and baked. I was silly and didn't think ahead, and egg-washed the dough before refrigerating it (it was late!). I let the dough proof in the fridge until the next afternoon. After resting on the counter for about 2 hours so it warmed up, I baked the bread loaves in a 350 oven for about 40 minutes. As it was cooling, I realized that I forgot the second egg wash. This resulted with the loaf having an uneven, semi-shiny, semi-crackly surface. The braids looked nice, but it didn't have the lacquered crust.

When I ate a piece, I remembered how much I love challah. I love the tender, almost cake-like texture of the crumb, and the soft crust. Like the brioche, challah with raspberry jam made breakfast (and dessert!) delicious. I brought a loaf to my mentor, Mr. Esteban. I explained to him that I was disappointed in the crust, but I don't think he minded all that much. It's still bread, right? I also brought a half loaf to my Jewish grandparents. We always have challah on Rosh Hashanah, and it reminded me of the holidays. Nothing beats a good loaf of challah bread.




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