The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Challah splitting

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varda's picture
varda

Challah splitting

Lately I've been making Challah and most of the time I get a split like in the picture.   Any ideas how I can avoid this?   This is made with starter but other than that is a pretty basic challah.   Thanks.  -Varda

Update - Take 2:

For these I made a few changes:   1.  Braided looser  2. Proofed a lot longer (Just over 1 hour to just over 2 hours)  and 3.  Mixed a little water into the eggwash.   I did not do the eggwash after shaping or use steam - two other suggestions made.   As you can see the splitting is considerably less, but there is still some splitting on all three loaves.   This time, I REALLY thought these were on the verge of overproofing, so don't know if this issue would go away period if I would just let the proof go on a bit longer.   Or try the steam.  I don't know if the water in the eggwash helped with the splitting, but it made it much easier to apply.   I think I'll always do that.  

proth5's picture
proth5

about the proofing on these?  I ask, because that's the first culprit I would suspect.

The next suspect would be the tighness of your braiding.  Not seeing the dough before you baked it that's a hard thing to comment on.  You don't want to have any tension on the dough when you braid.

Just some things to think about.

varda's picture
varda

Pat,  I thought these were properly proofed, but it sure looks like they rose too much.  And yes, there may have been some excess tension.   I'll make sure to avoid that next time.   Thanks! -Varda

MisterTT's picture
MisterTT

with proth5. Both looser braiding and more proofing time should take care of the problem. I've had the same splitting problem myself once or twice, and a longer proof time definitely helped. I gather that you are using just natural leavening so it is going to take a while longer than the usual commercial yeast recipes. Also, I think that when it splits only a little bit at the places where the braids touch it actually looks kind of nice.

varda's picture
varda

I'll try a longer proof even if I think its done.  And no pulling on the strands while braiding.   Thanks for your help.  -Varda

proth5's picture
proth5

Your comment almost stopped me from channeling "You Know Who" and asking if you thought it was proofed enough and it exploded like that - what should you do?

I have found that with braids you want to proof to the far side of the proofing window - sometimes scarily so...

Pat

varda's picture
varda

And yet helpful.   The far side of the proofing window it is.   Thanks.  -Varda

proth5's picture
proth5

prepping for a trip... Most people pack - I tune up the 'tude :>)

Stuart Borken's picture
Stuart Borken

I have no idea how to make this image sit the correct way.  On my desk top it's correct but when I put it in a comment it goes "kattywampus".  You and Lisa Hicks helped me to make my challahs.  They don't split.  I have no idea why yours does.  It has something to do with under or over proofing and the moistness of the dough and the humidity of the oven or the basting of the dough with egg or water or glaze.

varda's picture
varda

Are you saying I helped?   Because if so, I didn't learn whatever I said.   Back to the drawing board.  -Varda

golgi70's picture
golgi70

Hey Varda, 

They look delicous.  I miss challah on the weekend.  Anyway I've done the same thing too.  I learned looser brades and since you won't be scoring the loaf you really let it proof further than we are used to.  I just egg wash after shaping so I don't hurt it when It gets very delicate.  

 

Josh

varda's picture
varda

Hey Josh,   So if you are glazing before proof that means that they must be very soft after.   A good benchmark.   Thank you.  -Varda

golgi70's picture
golgi70

Some say if you egg wash before final proof you weight down the down, but I've never found this to be an issue as I egg wash croissants after shaping too.  I will egg wash croissants again right before going in the oven as well lightly .  But with Challah I've always found egg washing it when fully proofed the more damagin option.  the only exception was a place I worked where we had a paint sprayer set up with egg wash which put a great coat on without touching the loaf.  

I fear steaming a loaf with egg wash on it.  But light steaming could help.

Look forward to seeing your next loaves.  

PS What braid are you doing?  I always force myself to do the 6 braid.  

Josh

varda's picture
varda

Josh,   The first loaves I showed were 4 strand.   Left middle over all the way, Leftmost to middle.   Right middle over all the way, Rightmost to middle.   The ones today are larger loaves, and six strand.   These use the exact same braid modified for 6.    Second to leftmost over all the way, leftmost to middle.   Second to rightmost over all the way, rightmost to middle.   I find this braiding approach very easy.   And haven't been able to master a 5 strand.   That damn asymmetry. 

Relaxin's picture
Relaxin

You might try increasing the humidity in the oven by putting a pan of water on a rack or on the oven floor.  I'm willing to bet that at the temperature you're baking the loaf that the outside shell is setting before the dough inside has finished expanding from oven spring.  Adding a decent amount of moisture to the cooking environment will keep the outside of the loaf pliable allowing the inside to finish heating up and springing.  You can add water to a hotel pan or a cast iron skillet that you warmed up with the oven.  Make sure to use hot boiling water and not cold water or you might damage them.  You might also try watering down your eggwash.  The eggs may be helping the crust to set prematurely.  More water moisture at the beginning of the cooking process wouldn't hurt.

Relaxin's picture
Relaxin

Whoops.  Forgot to mention that you'll want to add enough water to the pan to add moisture for the first third or half of your cook time.  Cooking on a pizza stone will help because you'll be able to heat the moisture in the center of the loaf faster before the top crust sets.  Using a combination of both would work even better.

varda's picture
varda

I had not been using steam for challah, so that is another thing to try.   Also, I've been baking on baking sheets one on top of stone, the other on the upper rack as I am baking many loaves at a time, so wonder if that has anything to do with it.   Thanks for your help.  -Varda

proth5's picture
proth5

Well, I could channel my Spirit Guide and say "If you proofed that long and it solved a lot of problems what if..."

But I won't.

But I did tell you it might be scary.

Anyway.  I generally don't steam enriched breads, including challah.

My eggwash usually has a small amount of water plus a pinch of salt.  Stem and egg wash are somewhat redundant.

I would apply eggwash only after proofing, but I have a light touch with the brush and it doesn't deflate the dough - which might mean despite my fear it isn't really overproofed. (You know, those of us who do the lean breads are used to proofing to about 80% so we can get ears and have slits pop open - something to consider)

I've alwasy had the best luck in my oven (and ovens vary and I know that) using 100% convection and removing my baking stone.  Oven position also has played a part in determining how nicely the bread expands - I do wonder if the oven is too crowded.  (and now we're down to the last 5% - aren't we - round 2 loaves are perfectly nice - but not perfect.)

I can do a 5 strand braid all day but the 4 strand high braid still makes me swear strange oaths. I do envy your ease with that.

Good luck!

Pat

varda's picture
varda

I know this is a lot better but I doubt I will be admitted to the International Challah Guild until I get these cracks solved, and I so want a membership.   So yes, I could just set the timer for another half hour and grin and bear it, and maybe I'd get the last cracks gone, or perhaps have a gloppy mess on my hands but then I'd know better next time.  

I watched a video with Maggie Glezer on braiding 6 strands.   She just made it seem so incredibly easy.    I figured out that you could do the exact same thing with 4 strands.   So I'm probably the first person to braid with 6 strands before 4.   But unless Maggie has a video of braiding 5 strands I'm sunk.  

Thanks for helping.

-Varda

proth5's picture
proth5

Alas - the link is not working(at least not for me)!  Guess I'll just have to use my diagrams and strange oaths and get some more practice.

When the weather is cooler...

Pat

varda's picture
varda