The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Currant Buns and Challah

varda's picture

Currant Buns and Challah

I've been baking a lot lately, as I try to master my Cadco oven.   Some breads come out better than in my conventional gas home oven, others not so  much.   The other day I made challah, and it came out better than ever.   Unfortunately I didn't take good notes, so I'm not quite sure how I baked it.   I did one six strand loaf and the other seven.   The seven was strangely flat and boring.   I guess I need a fancier braiding regime. 

Awhile ago, I tried another La Brea bread - currant buns with a liquid rye sour and a fairly low hydration.   While they were tasty, I wasn't quite happy with them.   So I tried it my way with my drier rye sour and a higher hydration.

I made both loaves and buns.   Using Janet's regime (turn off the oven for a few minutes after preheat and a couple minutes of steaming then on again)   my loaves open consistently but I've only got a really good ear once and of course didn't take a picture. 

I made the buns by rolling into a thick log and then curling them up.   The spiral is largely lost in the bake but you can see it a bit.

These are really tasty, but need a few more currants to push them over the top:


I got a steel sheet that fits on a full shelf in the oven.   This can be baked on directly like a stone, but today I baked on a baking sheet on top of it.  


Currant Rye   
Hi Gluten627 62780%
Rye 15315320%
Currants85 8511%
Salt14 141.8%
Rye sour (80%)275   
Mix all    
Very wet but strong   
Put in refrig at 5 pm until 10:30 next morning
Shape into loaves and buns  
Proof 40 minutes   
Preheat oven to 500 for 40 minutes 
Steam without opening for 2 minutes 
Slash, spray and load bread  
Steam at 500 for 1 minute (actually around 450 as
heat lost when door opened)  
Turn off oven for 7 minutes.  
Turn on again at 425.   
Remove rolls after 12 minutes  
Reduce heat to 350 and bake loaves 10 more minutes


Janetcook's picture

Hi Varda,

 These look really good especially the shine on your challa crust - egg wash only? ( I keep getting rave reviews for the challah loaves I baked a week ago - your formula so thank you very much *^ } 

How do you find the steel sheet compares to a baking stone now that you have used it?  I just got a Volgrath heavy duty baking sheet for cookies from Pleasant Hill Grain and it is pretty hefty compared to any cookie sheets I have ever seen and am thinking it might be similar to what you got???  Have only baked cookies on it though so I should try a bread too and see what happens…

More experiments….

Thanks for the post and photos.

Take Care,


varda's picture

Hi Janet,  

Steel sheet is a cadco product and fits a whole rack of the oven.   They have them for all these ovens, so yours as well.   It is aluminized steel, a quarter inch thick, weighs 17 pounds.   I think it acts very similarly to a stone, but I'm a bit disoriented because I use it in the Cadco where I haven't yet found my feet.   I got it so the oven would retain heat when I turn it off at the beginning of the bake.   They advertise it as a pizza sheet, to set the crust of the pizza.   Same is true for bread, and I think it works better when bread baked directly on it, but I have done both bread loaded directly to it, and also on top of a baking sheet.   I got one for the bottom rack but theoretically you could put one on each rack.  They slide right into the rack slides, so you could just take out the rack altogether.  

As far as the challah, I glazed with egg wash around 3 times.   I mix the egg with a bit of water, which goes on much easier.  

Thanks Janet


Janetcook's picture

Your steel sheet is definitely heavier duty than mine!  I will be anxious to hear how it performs once you have sorted all your loose ends out and before you have moved on to new loose ends :- )

THanks for the egg wash specifics too!


dabrownman's picture

o dark brown crust that we like so much. Those rolls are a awful nice too. I know what yo mean about not getting the right amount of fruit in them. I'm going to use 20% as a rule fo thumb from now on too!  I think you have inspired me to do a spiral stollen or maybe a rose spiral.

Happy baking Varda.

varda's picture

DA,  Since I was making it up on the counter, I just threw in the amount of currants that looked right.   But when I looked at the numbers (and ate the bread)  it was too low.   The fig anise bread that I've been making lately has 60% figs.   Crazy.   But it tastes just right.   Thanks for your comments. -Varda

isand66's picture

Beautiful Challah and rolls Varda.  Glad to see your oven is working out.

Can you share your challah formula with me?



varda's picture

I thought I'd posted on challah before, but I guess I just made a link to zolablue's post awhile ago.  For all I know I've drifted off from there, so this is what I'm doing now.

Here is the formula and method:

Eggs107 10727%
Veg oil38 3810%
Sugar43 4311%
Salt 6 61.5%

Starter 67%

egg glaze    
Mix all until strong 0:3011:30 AM
BF 2.5 hours 2:3012:00 PM
Preshape into logs  0:202:30 PM
Roll and shape 0:352:50 PM
Proof  2:303:25 PM
Glaze with egg wash0:055:55 PM
Bake at 375 0:506:00 PM

6:50 PM