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Strange Challah recipe - would it work (better than normal)?

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Jay3fer's picture
Jay3fer

Strange Challah recipe - would it work (better than normal)?

Found a strange and intriguing challah recipe and I'm wondering if I'm setting myself up for icky or just-average challah if I try it.  It doesn't give any quantities of flour, which is annoying, but I can deal with it.  I'm intrigued by the large quantity of honey, the flavour potential of a long-rising sponge.  The olive oil also intrigues me.


Formula below.  I'm wondering if the long "pre-ferment" (no yeast, is it still a pre-ferment, or maybe an autolyse - with salt?) and seemingly light kneading could lead to a challah with a nicer flavour and/or better crumb.  Also, will the flavour of the olive oil dominate, or fade with mixing and baking?


Opinions, before I take the plunge and subject my family to yet another new challah?


J (Jennifer)


http://breadland.blogspot.com


-----


 


Thursday afternoon or evening:


In a mixing bowl, combine:



  • 3 cups warm water

  • 1 cup honey

  • 1 cup olive oil

  • 5 t salt


Whisk together and add enough whole wheat flour to form a soft dough, scraping the bowl and folding the dough over with a large spoon to blend in all the flour.  Cover and leave to sit at room temperature overnight.


STILL Thursday afternoon or evening:


Next, put 5 eggs into a small bowl.  Whisk together with enough whole wheat flour to make a soft dough.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.


Late Friday morning:


Take egg mixture out of the fridge and allow to come to room temperature OR if you want it to warm up faster, place it in an oven that has been warmed to 170 degrees and turned off.  Leave it in the oven for about a half hour.


On Friday afternoon:



  1. Dissolve 3 T active dry yeast in 1/2 cup warm water.  Whisk in enough flour to make a soft dough.

  2. Turn last night’s sponge and egg mixture out together onto a well floured counter.  Top with yeast mixture.  Coat well with flour and knead until well combined, using a dough scraper and flour to keep the dough from sticking to the counter.  Kneading will take about 3-5 minutes.  Add flour as needed until the dough holds its shape but is not dry.

  3. Cover and leave in a warm place to rise for about 1 to 1-½  hours.

  4. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead again for about 5 minutes.  Dough should be smooth and stretchy.


(instructions omitted for portioning & forming the challahs)

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Jennifer,


I don't get the logic behind this at all!


If you want to take up the challenge, and "work round" the lack of quantified ingredients, you may get to find out.   Personally, I would just walk away from it.   Looks like nonsense to me, but you may want to prove me wrong.


If you do, maybe you can offer logic behind this method?


BW


Andy

verminiusrex's picture
verminiusrex

Sounds like the recipe of an obsessive compulsive, or there was a logic to the methodology that only makes sense in context. If nothing else I can tell you that much liquid would make a whole lot of dough. 

Jay3fer's picture
Jay3fer

It's about the same quantity of water I normally use, but double the sweetener.


Drat, though.  I was hoping it was some kind of amazing secret recipe, and not just a weirdo crackpot recipe.


Found it at a fairly disreputable website, however, so not too surprised...


J (Jennifer)


http://breadland.blogspot.com

amolitor's picture
amolitor

Doesn't look bad to me.. The water/honey/oil/salt thing is obviously just a bouille or soaker, you'll get the whole wheat to partially digest.


The egg thing I'm less sure of. Certainly that whole wheat will also autolyze, since eggs have lots of water. Not sure if the eggs do anything interesting. Probably the proteins alter to a degree, but there's no telling if there's a noticable effect resulting.


This strikes me as a method for making challah out of mostly whole wheat flour, and I assume the various overnight digestions are to help out with that.


The whole recipe seems to be for a gigantic amount of bread, though. You're gonna wind up with something on the order of 7 or 8 pounds of bread, and it might be a bit on the sweet side as verminusrex suggests.


The only ingredient that's not quantified is the flour, as far as I can tell, and there's ample description for you to know when you've got enough in there. This doesn't look like a hard recipe to follow at all. I'd cut it in half or thereabouts first crack, though ;)


 


 

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Jennifer,


I don't understand the comments being made here.


Soaker: when has that ever included sugar or oil?   I understand the logic behind the competition for liquid, but there are far easier ways round this.   All you need to do is dissolve the salt [ok, this might be in the soaker for enzymatic reasons] and honey in the final dough water prior to mixing the dough!


Egg "thing": egg yolk is full of fat; this is not an "autolsye", let's be clear.   Why do you want the protein to break down???   I thought the whole point of using egg in chollah was to derive benefit from the extra protein, namely albumen?


As for the flour being "the only ingredient that's not quantified"?   This makes no sense at all.   A truly balanced recipe, hence a formula which works, is based on a given weight proportion of flour [100%] with all other materials expressed as a proportion of that 100%.


As for ending up with a large amount of dough, the whole point of a balanced formula is it then allows you to scale up or down to suit the recipe amount you want to make.   To me, that is the least of the problems to cope with.


I'd suggest extra sugar is in there as the recipe includes wholewheat flour.


I still think it's based on ill-conceived nonsense!


BW


Andy

MIchael_O's picture
MIchael_O

Hey Jay3fer,


  I did the math,


14 1/4 to 14 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour is needed to make a good challah for your mysterious recipe.


The egg and oil content is in line challahs


Everything is fine, but I would scale that recipe unless you are feeding an army that really loves challah.


I used my chart and baking calculator, but it took some improvising because of the number of wet ingredients. I think I will post the chart later - in a different forum, it is at


www.whatsthesequency.com/cakey.php


Michael O.

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Michael,


Firstly you have had to calculate the amount of flour needed in the formula.


Secondly, you don't offer any explanation for the off-beat methods in the instruction.


I'll steer clear of questioning the cups of flour, as it means nothing to me anyway


I'd be happy if you can justify the second point only, really


BW


Andy

MIchael_O's picture
MIchael_O

Hey Andy,


It's a little sumthin sumthin I whipped up. In short, you use a weighted sum  (linear equation). Bakers math uses hydration but hydration is very limiting and is only good when you use water/milk as your wet ingredient. Therefore I assumed that other ingredients could be added if they were scaled. I tested and tested, making sure all cookie recipes had the same moistness, all the tart recipes had the same moistness, etc. Thats the brief, the details include how to pick what is an ideal, say "pie crust" recipe.


A little involved...the whole explanation is at


Cooking for Engineers article


My website has an online application that does all the math; user friendly too. I also made a nice little chart. Challah is well defined, therefore you plug in a flour amount that gives you the right "characterization" numbers. challah has a moistness value of around 0.33-0.41, traditional breads are usually 0.36-0.37, so I chose the latter range. The higher the moistness value, the more liquid the dough.


The formula and chart work for all baked goods


cheers,


Michael O.

Jay3fer's picture
Jay3fer

Michael:  What a great tool!  This is definitely one for the bookmarks.


Meanwhile, I think I will scrap this recipe.  I was hoping I'd chanced on a hidden treasure, but I guess (sigh) it had better remain hidden.


As I said, much of the other content of the website where I found it was iffy, so I am willing to believe the challah won't work either.


Andy:  While professionals use flour as 100% and scale recipes proportionately, many family breads are passed along like this - with either the flour or the water added at the end by feel.  (depending on the initial mix technique - in the food processor, you'd use flour first, then water)


So that's probably where it came from. 


My mother tells a joke about a newlywed who wants to make brisket (a soft Jewish beef thing - is there a non-kosher equivalent?) for her husband.  She goes to the butcher and orders it like her mother always did, cut in half.


The butcher does it, but asks her why she wants it cut that unusual way.  "Because that's the way my mother always did it - and it turned out delicious!"


Later, she goes home and phones her mother to ask why she ordered the brisket cut in two.


The mother also doesn't know.  "Because that's the way my mother always did it."


So the newlywed calls up her grandmother.  "Bubby, why do you always order your brisket cut in half?"


"Because that way, it fits better in the pan."


Anyhow... just goes to show that family stuff gets passed along for the darndest reasons... but this isn't MY family's recipe, and I'm happy enough to just chuck it.


I have been playing with an authentic family challah recipe from my OWN family, which got rave reviews last Friday night and Saturday (ingredients at the bottom of the post):  http://breadland.blogspot.com/2010/08/making-auntie-sallys-challah.html

Urchina's picture
Urchina

The the non-kosher version of the joke you told substitutes "ham" for "brisket" and "grandma" for "Bubby." Seriously, it's a word-for-word identical joke. Made me smile. 


 


And thanks for the challah recipe! I made challah for the first time ever yesterday (test bake for the NY Bakers book) and it was an utter hit with the group I shared it with, none of whom had had challah before. So I'm hooked and going to try yours. But I would think that the olive oil would be quite prominent in the final flavor of the bread, as I used canola for the recipe I made yesterday and it was very noticeable (and the oil was fresh, just fine -- I was just unaccustomed to the flavor of oil coming through,  as most enriched breads in my family tradition call for butter). I'm thinking that a very fruity extra-virgin olive oil might be a lovely companion to the sweetness of a challah. 

ananda's picture
ananda

I couldn't agree more with you Jennifer.   it really is all about how it has been handed down.


I know a number of people have come up with ingenius methods and ways to convert from volume to weight.   If anyone finds a way which works for them, and for others, that is great, truly.   Personally, I'll just carry on doing what I had to do whilst on holiday recently....just guess.   In the end that is what you always have to do to an extent because volume does not convert to weight for solids such as flour.


Michael, as I said if your chart works for you, that is really cool.   BUT, the main thrust of my rejecting the formula was to do with questioning the methodology in the formula, rather than the unreliability of the recipe amounts.   No one has yet pointed out the logic behind these methods, hence my advice remains to avoid making it, or, at least not to have great expectations when experimenting.


BW


Andy

MIchael_O's picture
MIchael_O

Hey andy,


I don't want to argue but...I will, let's settle this because I honestly thought showing valid results was enough to get accepted...I am being faulted for being unorthodox, while frustrating, it doesn't really bother me beause that's a representation of who I am. Despite our clashing views, fortunately we have a means of solving quantitative disagreements called science, it requires measures,check; confirming results, check; and satisfying the audience, failure,


So let's deal with the last criterion. Weight.


1.You mentioned an uncertainty about cups and weight, but never mention how it affects my results, interesting... Let me guess at what you meant. Are you saying that there is a range of possible values for a conversion, well what does my chart use again? Ranges. Where's the problem sir?


2. Quick Andy, what is the methodology of the constant of acceleration, 9.8m/s? Let me tell you because it works, same with Plank's constant, Boltzmann's constant, etc. It is called an experimental constant, I explained the use of constants in the CookingforEngineers article.


 3. Do you want me to guess what you meant by your super ambiguous "methodology"?  Do you not believe that moistness affects a baked good, how about egg content and butter content? Maybe you still have a problem with those constants. Do you prefer equating all wet ingredients like baker's math's hydration does?


Also, I find it disappointing that had I been ill-educated I would have believed your attempt to diminish my results by claiming some "faulty" methdology invalidated my results. I know science. The only thing that invalidates results is the inability to reproduce results.


I am quite afraid beause even though you found nothing wrong with my results (And there are a lot of results to choose from) you still took time to publicly dismiss them. Does that make sense to anyone? I think we all like fair play and constructive criticism, I saw none of that in your post.


Michael O.

amolitor's picture
amolitor

Getting all hyper about weighing flour etc is stupid when there are eggs involved. Eggs are only approximately sized, and the moisture content of an egg is pretty darn variable. With 5 eggs specified, you really cannot specify the weight of flour and expect consistent results.



I think the point is to autolyze as much of the whole wheat flour as possible while keeping the eggs and sugar apart. So, essentially ALL the liquid is added to the WW flour in two batches, with the sugars in one and the eggs in the other.


Sugars interact with egg proteins. If you mixed all of it together the night before, instead of letting it sit in two batches, you'd get something different. Whether it's a better or worse something different, I do not know.


After chewing on it overnight, I am convinced this is the logic behind the recipe. Whether the recipe was built to do this, who knows, more likely it's just a case of 'this works'. Regardless, there IS a logical reason for it.


Don't let the 'if you don't weigh everything, you're a crank, and stupid besides!!!!1!!!1' crowd put you off.


 

ananda's picture
ananda

Michael, the methodology to which I refer is the strange instructions for soaking various materials in strange combinations, ie the recipe instructions, not your work to quantify volume by weight, ok?   Additionally, there is actually no science behind the flour amounts, as given in the recipe.


I have no issue with your work, as I quite clearly state in my response.   If it works for you and for others then that is really great, I mean it.


I'm truly sorry if you think my comment reads as public dismissal.   That is not the intention, and I do not believe what I wrote does constitute such.


Andy

MIchael_O's picture
MIchael_O

okay?

hanseata's picture
hanseata

MEN!!!


Karin


(But in principle I agree with Andy).


 

MIchael_O's picture
MIchael_O

Me too