The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Buying some time

swordams's picture
swordams

Buying some time

I am fairly new to baking, especially yeast breads, so I've joined this forum to meet people with the knowledge and experience to help me become a better baker.  I have taken an intro to baking class at culinary school, but I'm still a total novice at bread.

I plan to make a challah to serve on Monday, 9/29/08 for Rosh Hashanah.  The trouble I'm having is determining when to prep and bake my loaf.  I work all weekend and have an important event on Sunday night.  I have all day Friday, Saturday night (6:30-12:00), and about 1 hour very early Sunday morning free for baking.  If I prep and bake my challah on Friday, will it be good on Monday?  If I proof the dough on Saturday night and retard the shaped loaf in the fridge overnight, can I expect it to be ready to bake on Sunday morning?

I imagine many artisan home bakers nowadays have trouble finding a block of free time long enough to make bread, and I'm wondering how the rest of you manipulate the process to fit into your schedules.

 

Thank you,

Adam S.

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Hello Adam,

Your available Saturday time slot from 6:30-12:00 is plenty of time to make Challah. The best recipe I have for this bread has quite a bit of yeast in it and it is a "sweet" dough, meaning that it is enriched with eggs and oil. A sweet dough would normally have better shelf life than say a straight French type bread so I would think it would be fine for Monday. After the bread has totally cooled Sunday morning I would place it in a plastic zip lock bag and leave it at room temperature.

If you decide to bake on Friday, you could freeze it (after cooling) and it will be perfect as the day it was baked, after thawing.

I'll be happy to share the recipe if you need a good one.

Good luck and welcome toThe Fresh Loaf.

Eric

Marni's picture
Marni

I'm always trying new challah recipes.  I was going to bake some today and freeze it for next week.  (just as you suggested)  I'd love it if you'd share your recipe.

Marni

ehanner's picture
ehanner

After playing around with a couple different recipes I found a good one from Maya Sophia's Blog. She also has a very easy to follow video for braiding a 6 strand loaf. She also has a very good way to apply the seeds that works like a charm. I will paste the recipe below as I have it saved and you can go to this link for the blog site if you want to see the whole thing. I made a few minor changes so amounts would be clear for me, later but you might not even notice. Hope this helps. Happy New Year!

Eric 

 

Challah 

Ingredients:

  • 2 Pkg. Dry Active Yeast  or  4  1/2 tsps of Active dry Yeast or Instant Yeast
  • 1 tsp *Sugar (if using Instant dry yeast you can skip this sugar)
  • 2 Cups Warm Water
  • 5 1/2 to 7 Cups Flour
  • 4 tsp Salt
  • 4 TBSPS Sugar or **Splenda
  • 2/3 Cup Oil
  • 6 Egg Yolks – beaten

Optional: Saffron water or yellow food dye can be used to make the Challah dough a golden color if that is desired.

Egg/Sesame Seed Decoration

  • 1 Egg
  • 2-4 TBSPS Sesame Seeds or Poppy Seeds

Directions

1.    Place Yeast, tsp Sugar and warm Water (warm from the tap) in small mug or cup. Mix with a fork and let sit while you prepare the wet mixture. In about five minutes, it will foam up. This is done to make sure the yeast is good, will become active and make the bread rise.

2.    Place Salt, Splenda or Sugar, Oil and Eggs in bowl. Add saffron water or food dye. I use twelve drops of yellow food dye.

3.    Add foamy Yeast mixture.

4.    Add a cup of Flour at a time until dough can be turned out of bowl onto kneading surface.

5.    Sprinkle flour on kneading surface and place dough onto it. Begin kneading. The dough will feel very sticky. Knead flour into dough until dough can be handled without sticking to your hands and is smooth and elastic to the touch.

6.    Place kneaded dough in a bowl, cover with a dishtowel and put in a warm, draft free area (I place my bowl into the microwave and close the door. Just don’t turn it on! )

7.    Let dough rise for two hours.

8.    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

9.    Punch down risen dough. Take your fist and punch it down the middle of the dough while it is still in the bowl. The yeast, if it has worked, has caused a lot of gas to build up in the bread and it should have doubled in size.

10. Knead the dough once more for a few minutes.
This recipe makes two large loaves. For three strand Challah, cut the dough into two halves first, then cut each half into 3 equal lumps. Roll each lump into a foot long “rope”. Braid like you would hair. For a six-strand Challah, (pictured above) cut the dough into two halves first, then cut each half into six equal lumps.

11. Put braided loaves on oiled baking stone or in loaf pans. I prefer the stone so that the bread keeps its original long, oval shape.

12. Cover and let braided loaves rise for one hour.

13. Beat one egg. Brush both loaves with egg. Moisten finger with egg wash, dip it in Sesame Seeds and then press sesame seeds onto each section of the Challah. The egg wash makes for a beautiful golden Challah and the sesame seeds make it very pretty. Some choose to use poppy seeds instead.

14. Place in 350 degree oven and bake for 45 minutes until loaves are golden brown. Check it before removing from the oven. Some days it takes a little longer to bake through.
____________________________
*For those who wish to make this sugar free, the sugar used to proof the yeast is “eaten up” by the yeast in the proofing process. One’s blood sugars will not be affected.
**I prefer to use the granular Splenda since our family does not eat sugar.

 

 

Marni's picture
Marni

I made the challahs yesterday, and they look beautiful. I didn't add food color, but I never do, so no one will mind.  I made four round challahs ( I don't need large ones)and filled one of them with chunks of apple by flattening the rope, sealing in the chunks and then coiling it.  They are big enough- 7-8 inches across and the apple one is larger - I serve two or three at a time.  I also like to put cinnamon on the parchment before the final proofing.

Thanks again, I'm sure everyone will enjoy them.

Marni

Marni's picture
Marni

I just had to let you know that the challah was a huge success!  I really think it is the best challah I've ever made.  I did increase the sugar a bit (Hey - Rosh Hashanah, sweet new year and all...) and I don't use seeds on my challahs.  They were amazing.  The apple one was great fun.  I may have to get out my large mixer and make a double batch for Sukkot coming up.  Thank you again for sharing.

Marni

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Glad to hear they worked out for you. I'm going to try the apple addition myself soon. It's a fall season thing.

Eric 

Marni's picture
Marni

Hi,

Welcome to The Freah Loaf!  I agree with Eric about the freezing,  I sometimes bake 8 -10 challahs and freeze them for future use.  We like ours warmed sometimes and that adds to the "fresh-baked" feel when you serve it.

Happy New Year!

Marni

arzajac's picture
arzajac

I have had great results by allowing my Kalach (Ukranian version of Challah) dough to preferment overnight before braiding it the next day.  I find it keeps longer.  Without a preferment, my experience is that the bread dries out by the next day.

With a sweet dough, there is more than enough sugar to keep the yeast happy and allow the braid to rise the next day.   I don't make a sponge - I just make the dough the night before and let it rise.  

Just don't eat any raw dough that has been sitting at room temperature all night...

My favorite recipe is not far from a very basic Challah recipe.  I found it on a youtube video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9IFoIe_zbmE

The only modification is that I use all-purpose flour.  But I have heard that the all-purpose flour in Canada is different than in the US.   If I use half AP and half bread flour, I find the strands run together too much. 

I have tried freezing it just after cooking with okay results.  I would say it's certainly not as good as a bread that was baked that very morning.  But close enough. 

 

swordams's picture
swordams

Thank you all for your quick replies!  I feel much more confidant now.

I think I will prep and bake my challah on Saturday.  All I need to know now is, if I am serving it two days later, will it be better to freeze as Marni suggested it or just wrap it as Eric suggests?

I plan to use Peter Reinhart's recipe from "The Bread Baker's Apprentice".

ehanner's picture
ehanner

There a lot of personal opinions on this question and I wouldn't know the best answer for you. I do know that if you freeze the bread tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and in a zip lock bag as soon as it is cooled, really cooled, when you thaw it and perhaps warm slightly in a warm oven for 10 minutes, it will be as good as new.

Eric 

KosherBaker's picture
KosherBaker

Hi Adam.

I'm not sure if it's too late to chime in on this. But if you have 1 hour on Sunday. I would use that hour to make my dough and immediately place it into the refrigerator. Then on Monday, assuming you have some free time on Monday, I would bake the bread.

Happy New Year!

Rudy

arzajac's picture
arzajac

What a great idea!  I just tried that and it works really well.


Here is the dough after shaping but before the final rise:


 



It went straight into the refrigerator.


 


I took it out 90 minutes before butting it into the oven.  Here it is just before baking:


 



 


And the final bread:


Floydm's picture
Floydm

Truly a beautiful loaf.