The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Challah, in large quantities -

pb9003's picture

Challah, in large quantities -

Greetings -

With the Jewish holidays approaching, I'm considering methodologies for making quantities larger than what will fit in my KA stand mixer and am looking for advice.  I have a challah recipe I've played around with and perfected over the years, basically "Almost Grandmother's Challah", found all over the 'net.  Each recipe makes 2 loaves and is, I believe, at or about the capacity of my 6-qt mixer.  I need a dozen finished loaves, one of which is going to be a 'mega-loaf' in a 7-braid configuration to be used as a centerpiece on one of the tables.  So really, I need 7 batches.  Having watched videos on 'stretch and fold' as well as no-knead, I was wondering if I could just mix the whole thing in one plastic bus-pan (those things they use to bus tables in restaurants, I already have a couple) by hand, using stretch-and-fold to develop the structure, rather than making 7 individual batches in the machine doing the traditional kneading on the hook and ending up with 7 pails of rising dough each at a different stage of rising.  The recipe does call for beating sugar into the eggs and then whipping the whole thing with oil, all before adding any flour, so my plan would be to use the mixer for that part, then dump that liquid (35 eggs, 7 cups of sugar, some honey and 3.5cups of vegetable oil) into the flour and proceed with mixing.  My concern is trying to knead by hand a blob of dough containing 49 cups of flour - I'm a sturdy guy in pretty good health for a 54-year-old, but certainly not a muscle-man and not one who does not regularly expend the energy I imagine would be required to accomplish a more traditional kneading with such a large batch.   Any and all thoughts are welcomed!!!    Among other reasons, I'm trying to streamline this because I also have to cook the rest of the meal, much of which cannot be done in advance.

Thank you



MisterTT's picture

an intensive or at least improved mix (at least that is what I always use) to develop the gluten very well which allows it to rise a lot, especially with all the eggs and fat there is in the dough.

I think it is possible to develop the dough somewhat using stretch and folds, but you must remember that this procedure is geared more toward lean hearth-style breads and will not be satisfactory in the case of challah.

So for my money, you'll just have to mix separate 7 batches in the mixer.

golgi70's picture

You could go the old fashioned route and hand knead on a floured counter. Then use sf develop further.  49 cups flour is in or around 14 lbs of flour. If I were to do this I'd split in half. Knead one half 5 minutes switch. Probably be 15 minutes on each half.  Once smooth and elastic you can combine both in 1 bus tub.  I bet a stretch and fold will help half way through bulk ferment. 

Then proceed.  If you have further limitations like oven space or counter space for shaping maybe staggering the two mixes would be helpful as well?


hope this helped


Vicious Babushka's picture
Vicious Babushka

In order to perform the ritual of "separating challah" at least 13 c. of flour have to be used in the dough. The KA, unfortunately, can not handle more than 7-8 c. of flour at a time. I always used to make 2 batches of dough one after the other, and then bulk ferment them together. This year I bought an Ankarsrum Assistent which can handle that amount of dough all at once, it's great! 

Maggie Glezer's "A Blessing of Bread" and Joan Nathan's "Jewish Holiday Cookbook" contain many excellent recipes for challah using 5-lb bag of flour.

richkaimd's picture

The number of challahs you can bake at a time is a major issue here.  Only if you can bake them all at once should you make the dough all at once, unless, of course, you can retard loaves in your fridge.  You need to figure the timing out such that you have only as many loaves ready to bake at once as you have space to bake them.  Give some consideration to making batches over days and freezing them until you take them out early enough to allow them to thaw for serving.

pb9003's picture

Thank you for the suggestions.  I do have plenty of room (an empty 25cu/ft refrigerator) to retard and double ovens that can each hold 2 loaves.  I guess I was trying to close my eyes to what I already knew, that without a giant mixer I either have to batch them or knead by hand.  I'm set on my recipe, have been making it for years, just never hosted such a large gathering that I need so many.



richkaimd's picture

In his The World of Jewish Cooking, Gil Marks published the challah recipe that meets my dreams of the perfect challah.  Reading your note made me think that we all have different dreams.  His recipe make three large loaves from 9-10 cups of flour, four eggs, 2 cups of water, 0.5 cup veg. oil, 3/4 cup honey, 5 tsp each of dry active yeast and salt.  Try it sometime to make the comparison.  

I made 100 of these loaves 6 months ago to sell at a holiday boutique.  Went like hotcakes.  I had the advantage of having a 20 qt hobart and a two-shelf oven in which I could bake up to 16 loaves at a time.


SCruz's picture

I always stretch and fold challah, usually at 10-15 minute intervals. Never noticed any problem.

Good luck and le shana tova.