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Sweet Vanilla Challah

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PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

Sweet Vanilla Challah

I wanted to make a bread for a recent gathering of friends.  My preference was for something sweet but not a sticky, gooey kind of sweet.  After paging through a number of books, I came across a recipe in Beth Hensperger's The Bread Bible for a sweet vanilla challah that sounded like it would fit the bill.  The recipe called for just 1/2 cup of sugar in a two-loaf batch of bread, so it wasn't excessively sweet.  The flavor, though, was driven by 1-1/2 tablespoons of vanilla extract in the dough and another teaspoon of vanilla extract in the glaze.  How could it be anything but good?


The dough ingredients include:


1 tablespoon yeast (instant or active dry)


1/2 cup sugar


1 tablespoon salt


6-1/2 to 7 cups of flour


1-3/4 cups hot water (120 F)


4 large eggs at room temperature, lightly beaten


1/2 cup vegetable oil


1-1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract


The glaze ingredients include:


1 large egg yolk


1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1/2 teaspoon sugar


Process


Combine the yeast, sugar, salt and 2 cups of the flour; mix by hand or by mixer.


Add the hot water, eggs, oil, and vanilla.  Beat hard until smooth.  Add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time.  Continue beating until the dough is too stiff to stir.


Turn out on a lightly floured surface and knead until soft and springy and a layer of blisters shows under the skin, about 4 minutes.  (Note: I did not see any blisters forming, but kneaded until the dough was smooth and elastic.)  The dough needs to be slightly firm for free-form loaves.


Place the dough in a greased deep container.  Turn the dough once to coat the top and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, 1-1/2 to 2 hours.  (Even with room temperature at a relatively cool 65F in my kitchen, it did not need this much time to double.  I could see this doubling in less than an hour with warmer, summer-time temperatures.)


Grease or parchment-line 1 or 2 baking sheets.  (I went with 2 sheets, not wanting to risk the two loaves growing together while they baked.  It turned out to be a good choice.  Note that Ms. Hensperger also offers the option of using springform pans.)  Gently deflate the dough.  Turn the dough onto a lightly-floured surface.  Divide the dough in 2 equal portions.  Roll each portion out into a smooth, thick strip about 30 inches long, with one end 2-3 inches wider than the other.  (Picture a shorter, thicker billiard cue stick.)  Roll to to lengthen and taper the thinner end.  With the wide end on the work surface, lift the tapered end and wind the rest of the dough around the thick end 2 or 3 times, forming a compact coil.  Pinch the thin end to the body of the coil and tuck it under.  Place the coils, with the swirl pattern facing up, on the baking sheet(s).  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise until nearly doubled in bulk, about 30-40 minutes.  Because of the eggs, this loaf does not need to double completely; it will rise enough in the oven.  (And how!  It sprang up to double or treble its original height.)


Twenty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 350F.  To make the vanilla egg glaze, whisk together the egg yolk, vanilla and sugar in a small bowl.  Beat until well blended.  Gently brush the dough surfaces with a thick layer of the glaze.  Place the baking sheet(s) on a rack in the center of the oven and bake 40-45 minutes, or until a deep, golden brown and the loaves sound hollow when tapped with your finger.  Carefully lift the turbans off the baking sheet(s) with a spatula and transfer to cooling racks.  Cool completely before slicing.


The finished bread looks like this:


Sweet vanilla challah


Sweet vanilla challah


Now, any bread smells good when it's baking.  This bread's fragrance while baking is over the top; our whole house was perfumed with vanilla. 


The flavor is also marvelous.  The crumb is fine-textured, smooth and moist.  It's good all by itself, with a dab of butter, with jam or marmalade, and toasted.  It will never last long enough to go stale, but it would make a wonderful base for either French toast or bread pudding.


The results were every bit as good as I had anticipated and a big hit with my friends.


Paul

Comments

trailrunner's picture
trailrunner

I thought I had seen every beautiful Challah out there ...everyone known to man... and woman...but by gosh you have DONE it...WOW !! That is simply gorgeous. I can smell the vanilla all the way to Alabama. I have her book and have not made one loaf from it. But you sir have changed that in one fell swoop. Thank you . c

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

Do try it.  It will be a delightful addition to your challah repertoire.  It's also super easy to shape, compared to a braided challah.


Whereabouts in Alabama?  We lived just outside of Birmingham, in Shelby County, from 1988 to 1992.  Our subdivision was a little south or the 288/119 intersection, not far from Oak Mountain State Park.


I wish we still had access to a food co-op.  We belonged to one in Michigan, prior to moving to Alabama.  Food quality was excellent and the prices were unbeatable.  The mantra at a lot of the ordering meetings was "It freezes well" when we were trying to reach the required unit quantity for a particular food.


Thanks again,


Paul

trailrunner's picture
trailrunner

I am in Opelika but spend a fair amount of time running and biking in Oak Mt. I love that park. Great cabins and the trails are simply awesome. 


Funny about the food coops. We were in one in Chapel Hill NC in the 70's. Then when we moved to Auburn I ran one there for 8 years . This was in the late 70's early 80's. I had an 18 wheeler that delivered food to my garage. We had a lot of families and we ordered once a month. We started with Magnolia Warehouse and ended up with Ozark. We had a nice set up. An extra fridge out there and huge cheese knives, a honey gate for the 60# cans. We used to get our raw milk cheddar and swiss in 30# blocks. I remember well the "bargaining"....if you will get part of this 30# box of raisins I will get part of that 50# bag of ww flour....lots of fun ! What a nice memory you have brought me. 


Where in Michigan were you and where are you now? We spent many summers in Detroit and then in Brighton on the lake there when I was a teen. Lots in common...small world...Caroline

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

Does living in Opelika automatically make you a Auburn fan?


If you are that well acquainted with Oak Mountain (and I agree that it is a beautiful park), then perhaps you have also picked peaches in Chilton County.  Or maybe climbed Mt. Cheaha.  Or gone to the craft fairs at Horse Pens 40.


Prior to moving to Alabama, we lived in Jackson, MI.  My wife and I are both from farther north, in the vicinity of Traverse City.  We currently live in a Kansas City suburb, on the Kansas side of the state line.


I'd love to locate another co-op in this area.  The only ones I'm acquainted with here are store-front operations, rather than the informal ordering and distribution type that I knew back in Michigan, which sounds a lot like your experience.  Whole wheat pasta, cheese with no colorings, trail mix, yogurt, nuts, seeds, flours--it was great.


BTW, your round, braided challot are absolutely lovely.


Paul

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Paul,
I noticed you lived in my home town of Jackson Michigan. Don't often see a refrence to Jackson except for David Stockton the former Secy of Treasury if I recall.


The vanilla smells great, thanks! We love French toast here so I'll give it a try.


Eric

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

I know we traded notes about our Michigan backgrounds some time back, but I didn't remember you mentioning that you grew up in Jackson.  We lived there from 1978-88, after I graduated from MTU.  I worked for a local engineering firm, Gilbert/Commonwealth.  It was a really nice community for raising a family.  Sadly, it was in a decline even then.  I can't imagine what it must be like now with the economic problems Michigan has been faced with for the past several years.


Let me know how the French toast turns out.


Paul

KGRANTONIC's picture
KGRANTONIC

Hi Paul -


 


I too worked at gilbert/commonwealth from 1976 - 1979 - My name is Kathy (Pastor) Grantonic i worked in the electrical department.


 


just surfing and saw your name.


 


kathy

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

I keep bumping into G/C alumni, sometimes almost literally as when standing in line at Cedar Point one day.  I've worked for Black & Veatch for the past 18 years, mostly in the KC area, (except for a 5-year stint in the Houston office and a current assignment in South Africa) and know a bunch of former G/Cers who work in B&V's Ann Arbor office.  


Thanks for the note.  And a happy New Year to you and yours.


Paul

trailrunner's picture
trailrunner

Here is a pic from earlier this week...I was practicing the circular braid... Photobucket

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

This is such a pretty display of your loaves!!  They look so yummy!  Im wondering why you haven't posted your lovely photos in the/your blog on TFL...it comes in handy!


Sylvia

Marni's picture
Marni

Those look wonderful!  I am SO going to make these.  Thanks for sharing the recipe.


Marni

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

Paul, Very Nice looking Challah!  Wish I had a slice with my tea this morning!  One of my favorite things is the different forms/shapes of bread and yours is lovely...  I enjoy many of Beth Hensperger's recipes and have a few on my to do list...I have been out of town and looking forward to baking again!  Thank you for the recipe!  I have a question!!  I always hesitate to post a recipe from bread books...but is it OK from 'any' bread book?


Sylvia


 

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

for your compliments.  I hope you enjoy the challah when you get around to making it.


Regarding the copyright question, here's a thread from a while back that discussed that issue.  I try to be careful to credit both the source and the author, in the hope that it might steer someone toward buying the book for their own library.  If you do happen to compare what I have written with the recipe as presented in Ms. Hensperger's book, you will see that I have taken one small liberty with the ingredient list and a number of substantial liberties with the write-up describing the process, including some commentary of my own.  I have no wish to run afoul of the copyright police, nor do I want to deprive an author of his or her rightful gains from their intellectual property.  You'll notice that there wasn't a direct response to your question in the above, because I'm not well-enough versed in the law to offer an informed opinion.


Paul

Marni's picture
Marni

Paul,


Thank you,


I made this last Thursday.  They were so good.  My kids loved it!  I found that this dough held its shape better than most challah doughs I make.  (and I make a lot)  I made three smallish loaves, a round, a braid, and a panned twist. They also browned much more - probably from the sugar in the glaze. Thanks for the recipe, I'll definitely be making these again.


Marni

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

Marni,


I'm glad to hear that the challah turned out well and that your family enjoyed it.  These are on my "to be baked again" list, as well.


Paul

trailrunner's picture
trailrunner

Did you mean me?? I am not sure how to do the Blog on TFL. Does one just decide to have one? You are right it is a good idea. Thanks for the nice comments...I can hardly wait to try Paul's version from Beth's book. Caroline

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

Trailrunner,


In the column at the left side of the screen, just underneath your login, there is a list of items, beginning with Messages.  The third item in the list is Create Content.  Click on that.  A new page will open, giving you the choice of creating a blog entry, or a new forum entry.  Click on the one that suits your preference, and you will be taken to a page containing a text editor, where you can type out your latest baking escapade, questions, or whatever.


Enjoy!


Paul

Janknitz's picture
Janknitz

OMG those look incredible!  I can't wait to try it. 


Do you have any problems with the centers of your round challahs getting cooked through?  I have had that problem in the past with raw dough in the center of my round challahs, so I'm always leery of that shape.  Any hints for insuring doneness in the center without over-browning the crust?

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

Janknitz,


I haven't had a problem with undercooked centers, so far.  Because the two baking sheets filled up a rack, I used the convection setting on my oven to bake these.  (That's called learning from previous experiences.)  I noticed that the side facing the fan was browning faster than the side facing the door, so I rotated them part way through baking to avoid two-tone crusts.  I'm not sure if that may have contributed to more even baking of the exterior/interior, or not.


This particular batch came out with a pleasantly moist crumb.  Challah has a reputation for drying during baking, so I'm not quite sure what to attribute that to.  Maybe the oil?  I did attempt to not work a lot of additional flour into the dough during kneading.


I hope you enjoy it when you make it.


Paul

audra36274's picture
audra36274

We too live in Alabama and enjoy baking challah. It is cool to find out that you and trailrunner are my Fresh Loaf "neighbors". I live half way between Auburn and Talladega. We do a lot of shopping in both Auburn and Birmingham. Both are beautiful. Small world. I always enjoy your baking Paul. Have a great weekend.


                                                                                      Audra

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

We enjoyed living in Alabama.  It won't be long now before the dogwood, hydrangea and azalea begin to bloom, will it?  This yankee never did quite adjust to the notion of planting pansies in December, I must confess.


If you had been here this past weekend, you would have been less impressed with my other baking attempt.  I had made up a sourdough pain de compagne that had every appearance of being a real winner.  It smelled absolutely wonderful in the oven.  Until, at least, it got past the intended time to come out of the oven.  But, I was busy playing with my grandson and never heard the timer go off.  It was only when I began to realize that I was smelling a scorched odor that I snatched the bread out of the oven.  By then, it past being "boldly baked".  What a shame!  The crumb texture was more open than any I have achieved recently, and still moist.  Sadly, the flavor was not what it should have / could have been.  I've been eating it anyway, because it is good bread, but it's still scorched.  Ah, well, better luck next time.  And, better a neglected bread than a neglected grandchild.


Paul

Paddyscake's picture
Paddyscake

What  a wonderful loaf..the perfume of the vanilla in your home and then the pleasure of savoring the flavor. Wow! A real keeper, for sure. You did an excellent job shaping, they are just lovely.Thanks for sharing.


Betty

Janknitz's picture
Janknitz

I made the challah this weekend.  I made one round braid, 3 small 4 strand braids, and a small "snail" which was our tasting bread.  The family really loved the flavor (YAY!), and the round braid was beautiful. 


The big round challah is beautiful!  I hope it is done in the center--I misread the directions and only put it in for 35 minutes, it was out for about 5 minutes when I realized my blunder, and I put it back in for 15 additional minutes.  It sounded hollow on the bottom both times I removed it from the oven, and I didn't dare leave it in any longer the second time because it was getting quite brown.  Hopefully it will be done enough.  It went in the freezer until Shabbat. 


We're not big challah eaters, so the half recipe loaf is a lot for our family.  I intend to turn the leftovers into bread pudding.  But when the kids like the challah, they eat a lot more of it ;o)


Thanks for sharing this lovely recipe!


 

OHMYGOSH50's picture
OHMYGOSH50

IS IT POSSIBLE TO DEMENSTRATE HOW TO MAKE THE CHALLAHS THAT WERE IN THE BASKET ...THEY WERE SO BEAUTIFUL..I WOULD ALSO LIKE TO LEARN HOW TO MAKE THE OBLONG CHALLAH ROLL IF ANYONE KNOWS HOW TO

audra36274's picture
audra36274

6 strand.


for the round- look all the way to the bottom of the page


http://www.ou.org/shabbat_shalom/article/woven_round_challah/


 and now the six strand


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q0kf0MFRpXg


 the video is cheesy, but you get the idea. They are very easy and fun to do. Let us see them, as I know you will have good results and want to show them off.


Audra

burgeoningbaker's picture
burgeoningbaker

Hello fellow bakers!


This is my first post on The Fresh Loaf and its community and so in general I have a lot of questions, but as far as this topic is concerned I have the following at the moment:


Paul,


How many standard size loaves would this make as 3 4, or 6 stranded braid?  I've had a request from a friend to make them a loaf of challah and this looks like a great recipe.  However, since it is not the New Year and they prefer braids, I was curious to know.  Also with sweet doughs, I find myself having to knead longer and sometimes add a bit of flour because they are too sticky to knead by hand (my preference) for me.  Did you find any such issues with this particular recipe?  Should the bake times be the same for a different shape?

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

I only just now saw your post from July.


In answer to your question about the yield, I'd have to say that it depends.  If you read some of the posts above, you'll notice that some people have made as many as 3 or 4 loaves, depending on shapes and sizes.  This recipe makes close to 3 pounds of dough, if that helps answer your question.  I've only made it in the snail shape, which gives 2 generous loaves.


I remember the dough as being more tacky than sticky, having taken care not to add more flour than the recipe called for.  Of course, my definition of tacky might be your notion of very sticky if you are accustomed to adding flour as you knead.  A lot of challah is drier than I enjoy, so it was a pleasure for me to have this turn out moister than other challah that I have had.


If you make the dough into 3 loaves instead of 2, you may want to bake for a shorter period than the recipe suggests.  Smaller loaves usually bake through faster than larger loaves.


I hope that helps.


Paul

hapaxLegomina's picture
hapaxLegomina


More pictures


I've been lurking on The Fresh Loaf for a while and envying my friend's baking success and I finally had some spare time today and this recipe sounded great.


My first loaf in a few years came off really well and I'm tucking this recipe into my bookmarks for later reference. Really really good. My apartment smelled absolutely amazing while it was baking.

hapaxLegomina's picture
hapaxLegomina

That's a half batch by the by.

Jay3fer's picture
Jay3fer

I didn't use this recipe, but did bake Maggie Glezer's Breadsmith Challah, which calls for vanilla in a slightly-sweet challah dough.  It smelled truly amazing, but my daughter walked in and shouted, joyfully, "cookies!" and was then crestfallen when it was bread.  That was indeed the problem for us... the vanilla "nose" piques your tastebuds to expect something MUCH sweeter (dessertier) than challah.


Anyway, the recipe is great, so I have made it again since... but we just leave out the vanilla.  :-)

SadieRose's picture
SadieRose

Hi there -- 

I have a general challah and bread baking question, and I did use the recipe for the loaf in my picture. My question is this: what I am doing wrong to make the braid come apart and stretch like that? I am a complete novice when it comes to bread baking and don't really know what's causing this. Does it have to do with proofing or kneading or braiding... or something else completely? Any insight would be wonderful.

Jay3fer's picture
Jay3fer

Sigh... if only I knew.  I bake many different challah recipes, using just about the same rising / braiding technique, and sometimes they separate this way, and sometimes, they don't.  I know it looks more professional if they stick together, but frankly, I enjoy the look & taste of the "split" challahs, too.

I suspect it has to do with a dough that is just a bit too "bouncy" in the oven... not enough expertise to answer this question.  One thing I do now that seems to help is proof longer before baking. I also oil the strands while rolling them out.  I used to use flour, but why, when oil makes the bread more yummy and keeps the strands distinct?

More adventures in Challah:

http://breadland.blogspot.com/search/label/challah

OHMYGOSH50's picture
OHMYGOSH50

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT WHEN MAKING CHALLAH............

WHEN BRAIDING DONT PULL THE STRANDS JUST PICK THEM UP AND LAY THEM CAUSE U WANT THE DOUGH TO EXPAND AND NOT BE HEAVY YOU WANT IT TO BE AIRY

WHEN MAKING THE DOUGH THE DOUGH SHOULD BE NOT TO STICKY BUT NOT HARD IF HARD ADD MORE WATER ....LET RISE THEN IF STICKEY JUST DIP THE DOUGH AS U ARE ROLLING THE CUT PIECE  IN SOME FLOUR AND SHAKE OFF ...

THEN SECOND RISE SHOULD ALSO DOUNLE BUT NO OVER RISE CAUSE IT WILL FALL

ANOTHER TIP IS I EGG TWICE  ...MEANING I EGG WHEN I BRAID AND THEN I LET IT SIT AND RIGHT I MEAN RIGHT BEFORE I PUT IT IN THE OVEN I EGG AGAIN ...ALSO THE EGG SHOULD BE ROOM TEMPERATURE SO ITS NOT TOOO COLD ON RISEN DOUGH .....

ALSO WHEN BAKING  PUT IN THE MIDDLE RACK

ALSO IF U ARE BAKING IN A TIN ...AS SOON AS U TAKE OUT OF OVEN TRY TO GET BREAD OUT OF TIN CAUSE IT SWEATS

OH WHEN MAKING THE DOUGH MAKE SURE THAT THE YEAST RISES CAUSE IF IT DOESN RISE NICE I WOULD NEVER BOTHER MAKING THE REST ...I WOULD  PUT UP ANOTHER YEAST TO RISE.....

WATER SHOULD NOT BE TOOO HOT BUT ALSO ALITTLE MORE THEN HOT AND ADD A DROP OF SUGAR

ANOTHER TIP THE MORE EGG U ADD TO THE CHALLAH THE HEAVIER IT IS ...I HOPE THIS HELPS CAUSE IT TOOK ME ALOT TO FIND THIS OUT ...I MAKE CHALLAH FOR PEOPLE AND ENJOY THE CHALLENGE ....ENJOY

Jay3fer's picture
Jay3fer

Most of this is great advice, though you should turn off the CAPS LOCK if you can.

I was confused by this:

WATER SHOULD NOT BE TOOO HOT BUT ALSO ALITTLE MORE THEN HOT AND ADD A DROP OF SUGAR

The water definitely shouldn't be too hot, though if the OP is successfully making challah already, he/she probably knows this already.  If it could hurt your hands, it will hurt the yeast.  But I don't know what you mean by the second part, "BUT ALSO...".

purplemom4's picture
purplemom4

I'm a novice baker and all these posts & pictures encouraged me to try this recipe.  Loved it!  It turned out great and we ended up using one loaf for French Toast and the other for snacking.  Thanks!

fancy4baking's picture
fancy4baking

Very delectable looking Challah bread, i want to try it!

Paul, what do you  think about adding handful of soaked and drained raisins and replacing the oil with butter to the dough? How would it come out, and if i can change oil to butter how much should i use?

Mike

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

For starters, I'd substitute equal quantities of butter for oil.  Since butter has somewhere between 15 and 20% water, there might be a slight difference in dough texture but I doubt that anyone would complain.  You can always adjust the next batch to suit your tastes.

I hadn't thought about raisins but see no reason why they shouldn't be a great addition.  Go for it!

Paul

fancy4baking's picture
fancy4baking

for your reply. I guess i'm going to add some raisins...maybe a handful...soaked in warm water and very well drained. But as for the butter, i think i'm going to stick to oil as your described since i want to know how the original recipe would come out like in terms of texture and taste.

But you know for shaping i think i wanna try Maggie Glezer's six stand barid...

I'll let you know what happens.

Cheers :)

fancy4baking's picture
fancy4baking

Hey guys,

I've been since long time ago thinking of making Challah, but never had the chance. But seeing PMCool's recipe here of "Sweet Vanilla Challah" i decided to go for it. Thanks to PMCool's advices :)

So last night i made it...I know that some of you...especially those experts in Challah might feel offended by the results, but i guess it wasn't so bad after all bearing in mind that i am still novice in baking and on the other hand this is my first Challah ever.

I took PMCool's recipe which is Beth Hensperger's, but since i always wanted to know how to braid Challah i didn't go for the snail form, but rather made it following Maggie Glezer's six-strand braid.

So here's my evaluation of the outcome:

1- I wanted to add 100 grs. of seedless white raisins to the dough, but i was coward in adding them to the ingredients from the beginning, so i delayed that till after bulk fermentaion, when i spread the dough into rectangle and sprinkled the raisins then roled the dough into a log.

That resulted in making the raisins not well incorporated within the dough and making it hard to shape strands and elongate them to the desired length. So....lesson learnt: nest time i should add raisins to the ingredients as i make mix the dough. (Should i decide to add them)

 

2- Shaping:         Due to the inconsistent behavior and unability to elongate the strands because of inclusion of raisins in the dough after the bulk fermentation, this resulted in two things: #1 inconsistent strands in terms of thikness, #2: unmanagability of obtaining the beautiful form of six-strand braid, as you can see in the picture. Also that fault resulted in tearing the strands in some parts, consequently not being able to rise as maybe it should.

3- Texture:         Was somehow dense and not light and with no open crumb, yet it was soft and nice tasted.

4- Final Proof:   I kept the braids waiting on the counter for approx. 45 mins. It rose considerably out and high (out because of the poor handling due to inconsistency in the thikness of the strands). But should i waited longer on them, i could have had more rise.

5- Oven Spring: As you can see, i had one really big six-strand braid and one three-strand small braid, that i erronously baked together at the same time. 

That resulted in two things: #1: i had considerably impressive oven spring, which led to #2: two braids sticking to one another and after being cooked i had to tear thema apart which caused another added defect in terms of shape.

Lesson Learnt: This recipe yields two midium-size braids which has to be baked on two sperate sheets as explicitly mentioned in PMCool's instructions...sorry Paul i goofed up big time :P

6- Flavor:         a- Adding butter equal only to 35% of the amount of oil the recipe calls for, gave a very rich flavor. So it was very nice.

                         b- Vanilla smell wafted through the entire house making us enjoying the spirit of christmas before it's due time, honestly

                              it was something i will surely make again...Thanks Paul for recommending this :) also vanilla added incredible flavor

                              the challah.

                         c- Adding a handful of raisins i.e: 100 grs of seedless white raisins gave extra richness and sweetness to the challah with 

                             very pleasant added aroma.

Now here're some pictures of what i did. Please have a look at them and give me your opinion of where i should pay more attention next time. But hey guys, please bear in mind that this is the first Challah i make in my life, so give me some credit on that....OK :D

 

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

Being less than a stellar braider myself, I sympathize with your struggles.

You made a good decision to incorporate the raisins after the bulk ferment, rather than in the initial mixing.  The raisins, particularly if much softened by soaking, might not have retained their shape during mixing and kneading.  Here's an idea to try: after rolling the dough out into a rectangle, cut it into the number of strips that your want to braid.  Lay a row of raisins down the center of each strip, then fold the dough over the raisins and seal the seam to completely enclose them.  Now you can roll the raisin-stuffed, sealed strips into ropes for braiding.  If handled gently, the raisins should stay bundled inside; thereby making the rolling-out process simpler and protecting the raisins from drying during baking.  The ropes will still be lumpy but you won't have to try to push the raisins back into place all of the time.

I'm glad to hear that the butter substitution worked well.

And yes, the aroma of this bread is amazing!

The crumb texture in the photo looks somewhat coarser and wetter than I recall from my previous bakes of this bread; more cake-y.  Did you allow the bread to cool all the way to room temperature before cutting it?  If you cut it while it was still warm, that might explain some of what I'm seeing.  If the bread was completely cooled before cutting, then it may have benefitted from a bit more flour in the dough, or more kneading, or a few minutes longer in the oven to fully bake out the excess moisture.  Did you happen to measure the internal temperature of either loaf before removing it from the oven?

Do give yourself a pat on the back for this first attempt.  It is a success.  What we are talking about now is making the next one even more successful.

Paul

RabbiBeth's picture
RabbiBeth

I want to thank you so much for this delicious recipe!  My fifteen year old and I made it yesterday for Shabbat.  We gave one loaf away and happily kept the other one.  The vanilla scent is amazing!  The flavor is delicious.  The texture is fabulous.  We also sprinkled the top with a little cinnamon sugar mixture in addition to the glaze.   We baked ours in two loaf pans and they rose like the Eiffel Tower!  Thanks a million! 

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

As much as this bread expands while baking, I can certainly picture some very tall loaves!  And the sprinkle of cinnamon sugar can't have hurt the flavor any, either.

If they last long enough, they make excellent french toast with, of course, a little vanilla in the egg mixture.

Paul

RabbiBeth's picture
RabbiBeth

PMCool, they were absolutely fabulous.  i asked my daughter what she wanted for dinner tonight and she wanted French toast from this challah.  This is after she made herself a Nutella sandwich out of it earlier in the day.  Can we say CARB-FEST?!  Wonderful recipe!