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challah made with commercial and wild yeast

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ejm's picture
ejm

challah made with commercial and wild yeast

challah

After seeing Eli's version of Maggie Glezer's sourdough challah from her book A Blessing of Bread, I really wanted to make challah. But this particular bread uses a firm starter. (Firm starter?! I don' know noth'n' 'bout makin' no firm starters, Mizz Scahlet!) I don't have A Blessing of Bread yet (I do have Glezer's wonderful book Artisan Baking though and it's one of my favourites). And my other cookbooks talk about how to make firm starters but, but, but... I need hand-holding with new techniques. ESPECIALLY where wild yeast is concerned.

So I did an internet search to see if anyone else had made Glezer's challah. And found yet another version of Glezer's challah on Tatter's blog, "The Bread Chronicle". This one is made with a liquid levain. Ah, that's what I like to see!! I'm familiar with liquid levains. Not exactly an expert with them but at least I've used them frequently.

I had fun braiding challah.

challah weavingchallah weaving

challah weavingchallah weaving

I'm sure that it's incorrect to have that little bit of whole wheat flour but I really like to add just a little (using Carol Field's idea of adding wholewheat flour to our highly refined white flour to mimic stoneground flour). I think the tiny bit of whole wheat adds flavour as well, making the bread seem not quite so much like "white bread" that can be so flavour-free.

Our challah was wonderful! Wonderful and flavour-full. I loved the honey in it. And it was really fantastic for breakfast with hard boiled eggs and strong coffee with lots of cream.

challah
  • semi-wild challah recipe based on the recipe for basic sourdough in Piano Piano Pieno by Susan McKenna Grant and a recipe for challah in Maggie Glezer’s cookbook A Blessing of Bread

And yes, Glezer's book A Blessing of Bread is now on my "wish list". I think I neeeeed to have it.

-Elizabeth

Comments

Eli's picture
Eli

Those are gorgeous! You have a to make a braiding video. They look perfect. I bet you will make this one often. The flavor is great isn't it?

 

Eli

Marni's picture
Marni

I agree, please make a braiding video!  Making all those ropes for the braids must have taken quite a while, but what a lovely result!

Thank you for posting that recipe, I also use a liquid starter and would like to try a challah using it. 

Marni

ejm's picture
ejm

Thank you Eli and Marni! It wasn't at all difficult to do the braiding/weaving and it didn't really take much time at all. In fact, initially, I had the six-strand braid wrapped around a plain round and decided to change it to the four strand woven round. Frankly, most of the time was spent in getting the strands to be even lengths. And because the dough is on the stiffer side (especially compared to the slack doughs I often work with) it was really very easy to work with!

Our camera does have a setting for making videos but I'm not sure that I would do a better job at it than these people:

...not to mention that I'm uncertain about whether I really did get the six strand braiding right. 

-Elizabeth

 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Elizabeth.

Those challot are magnificent! I don't think I could ever figure out your braiding pattern, even with a video!

As far as a firm starter goes, it is nothing more than a liquid starter but with more flour in it. It does behave differently, but there is no mystery to it. If you have specific questions, there are lots of folks here who would be happy to answer them.


David

ejm's picture
ejm

Thank you, David

I suspected that the firm starter simply had more flour but because I'm already having some difficulties with my 100% starter (it's a temperature thing - for at least 6 months, our kitchen is on the chilly side) I didn't really want to be fighting with yet another problem.

But next time I make challah, I may be bold and try the Glezer all-wild-yeast version that Eli, et al have made.

And, really, you are too kind about the braiding. It really isn't at all difficult - hey! If I did it, anyone can. :-)

-Elizabeth 

Eli's picture
Eli

I will post a photo of my firm starter if that may help. As for the mix it has been  about 1/4 cup flour to 4 tablespoons of water depending upon the flour used and it feels just like play doh. The children were here with their play-doh and we compared them. Mine has a better smell, sweet fruity wine.

Eli

Eli's picture
Eli

Elizabeth,

Here are pix of my motherdough. This is what I made my liquid starter from actually. The liquid starter sits on the counter and is fed regularly. This is taken out of the fridge and fed once a week or twice if I am going to use any of it for a bake. This one also travels with me. i take it to the beach in the event  I want to bake and I find people (dog sitter, anyone in charge of it while I am gone) don't do as well feeding it compared to the liquid version.  This one doesn't impart as strong of a sourness at first but as the bread sits for a couple of days it becomes as sour as its counter-part.

Motherdough II

Eli

ejm's picture
ejm

Am I understanding you correctly, Eli? Are you saying that the baked bread  gets sourer as it ages?

 I know what you mean about wild-yeast sitters being not necessarilly reliable. I take mine with me when travelling too.  (Have you read that wonderful story by Stewart McLean about "Dave" taking care of his neighbour's sourdough?)

-Elizabeth 

Eli's picture
Eli

I have noticed the longer the bread sits the more it develops a sour flavor. The first night or 24 hours it really has little flavor and then about 2nd to 3rd day if it last that long it becomes much more flavored. Actually, I get a better crust with the motherdough too. I get a redder more blistery crust than with the liquid starter and I am going to attribute it to the md. I also mean a regular flour, water, salt sourdough, not the challah. I am sorry if I wasn't clear. I was speaking in general. Breads not enriched. The challah has the honey and it has a wonderful sweet note.

I have not read the story. Is it here in a thread? I will do a search and try! Thanks and thanks for the braiding links.

Eli

ejm's picture
ejm

I did understand that you were talking about your regular lean bread when talking about the sourness, Eli.

I should have been clearer; the story I was referring to is the short story "Sourdough" in  Home from the Vinyl Cafe: A Year of Stories by Stuart McLean - a collection of stories read by McLean on his CBC radio show "The Vinyl Cafe". If you can get hold of an audio version with McLean reading, it's even better. (I'm guessing that there might be audio versions available at the public library?) But his written word is really good too.

I don't think the story is online.  

-Elizabeth 

 

 

 

Eli's picture
Eli

i will try to search out a copy. I wasn't sure if I was clear. I made  some sourdough with blue cheese, pecans and cranberries tonight and I am going to put together some starter/preferment for some more challah.!

Take care,

Eli

plevee's picture
plevee

Hi, I'm a fairly experienced bread baker - nothing like the skill level of the people who post the near-pornographic pictures of perfect bread on this site! - but I produce weekly sourdough loaves which please me & a couple of friends.

This w/e I decided to try the sourdough challah in Maggie Glezer's Blessing of Bread. The starter was fed twice & was active & mature. I heeded the warning that the dough would not seem to have risen after 2 hours, but really it was so inactive I left it another 6 hours at room temperature when it had risen a tiny amount. The shaped loaves had risen only minimally after 3 more hours so I stuck them in the 'fridge for 7 hours & resumed the project next morning. I did get some rise after a further 3 hours at room temp & an hour in the M/W with glass of hot water. The dough seemed fully proofed & I got some oven spring. I haven't tasted the breads yet & hope they aren't too sour. 

The question is "why is a starter that raises lean doughs reliably so sluggish with any enriched dough?. This isn't even very rich - 90g honey, 4 eggs & 90g butter to ~700g flour. I must admit I've also had similar problems with yeasted enriched doughs, and my kitchen temperature is usually about 66F. Does anyone have suggestions/solutions?

I love this site. I'm a total luddite at photograghy & posting, but I have learned so much just lurking in the shadows. Patsy 

Eli's picture
Eli

Patsy, did you use the 200 gram preferment? I don't get a bunch of rise in the first 2 hours but I posted elsewhere that I get a great rise after the retardation. I even leave mine in for 10 to 12 hours because I get a better crumb and longer shelf life.

How did it taste? What crumb did you get? Tell us about your starter? Smell of vinegar or wine?

Eli

sharsilber's picture
sharsilber

I do challah every week  - but am constantly playing with the recipe, starters, rising time etc.  I just borrowed Blessing of Bread from the library and am bench proofing some loaves right now.  Glezer has many different recipes ranging from eggless challah to challah with a sugar frosting.  It is a good read and there are great photos to help people with braiding techniques.

Sharon

www.thebraidedloaf.com

ejm's picture
ejm

Thank you, Sharon. That's praise indeed from someone who makes challah on such a regular basis.

I just got Glezer's "Blessing of Bread" out of the library as well. I am amazed at the number of challah recipes. Of course, I shouldn't be...

I was very interested to read Glezer's recommendations for forming the strands for the braids: to roll the dough out as thinly as possible and then roll it tightly into a strand to ensure that the final crumb is very uniformly and finely bubbled.

-Elizabeth 

sharsilber's picture
sharsilber

Last week I made two loaves from the same dough.  One I rolled out with a rolling pin and rolled up and the other I just rolled under my hands longer and longer.  Baked them together and compared - they came out exactly the same.  I could not tell the difference.  I do use the roling pin technique when I use fillings, but otherwise it does not make a difference visually or with the crumb.

Enjoy her book. 

Sharon

www.thebraidedloaf.com

plevee's picture
plevee

Hi, Eli, I used probably a little more than 200g starter. I don't "keep" a starter as such - I have a starter but instead of feeding it & using part & saving the rest, I feed the starter & use it all, then add some water & flour to the little on the sides of the yogurt carton I keep it in. This gives me an active but not too sour starter - & I never have to throw starter away! It works great for lean doughs, but  was glacially slow with the challah recipe, which I otherwise followed exactly.

The breads looked great, had a closer crumb than I liked, but kinda like other photos of challah. Even after 20 hours total fermentation they weren't at all sour &  I thought the bread was too sweet for all purpose eating.

I would love to understand why a fairly modestly enriched dough affects the activity of the starter so much and if there is some additive - perhaps additional acid - or procedure to help overcome this. Patsy

 

trailrunner's picture
trailrunner

I followed the pics on the Jewish Women web site for braiding and it turned out beautifully. But as I look at your technique I believe that what you did is still different. It appears that you have a continous strand that goes around the outside and perhaps more than 4 strands to start ??? I am not sure but would love to see how you did yours in more detail. I have just discovered your Blog and love it !! Thank you Caroline

ejm's picture
ejm

Thank you, Caroline, that's very nice of you!  I'm glad you found the blog too. I hope you'll drop by there as well.


I'm glad your bread turned out. Are there photos?


The challah I made with the braid around the outside was a 4 strand basket-type round in the center, wrapped with a six-strand braid. (I hope that made sense.) Except I think maybe I didn't do the six strand braid correctly and somehow managed to get a 3 strand braid....


If you go to the post on my blog about semi-wild challah and click on one of the images, it will go to a page showing larger images and some details of the braiding I did. I'm afraid I didn't take a whole lot of photos.


I imagined that I was going to make challah today. But of course, I'm WAY behind schedule and fancy bread will have to wait til after Christmas Day.


Elizabeth

trailrunner's picture
trailrunner

Hey Elizabeth. I have tried to post photos on the site here but have had no luck when I click on the "tree" above and insert the url from my Photobucket. All it puts is red X. Do I need to fill in all the blanks for size etc? I don't do that as I have no idea what they are asking . Here is a link to my Photobucket. The Challah pic is in that first page of pics. I started making Challah in 1977. Every week since. I am branching out , as it were, and trying new ideas about wild yeast. Thanks for answering ! Caroline


 


http://s63.photobucket.com/albums/h126/41455/food%20pictures/

ejm's picture
ejm

Your challah is stunningly beautiful, Caroline!


Here is Caroline's challah (Wow!!):


Caroline's challah


Caroline, here's what I did to put in your image:


I went to your photobucket gallery and right-clicked on the image to get the image location. (I hope this is making sense; I can't remember what the equivalent of "right-click" is for Mac, in case you are using a Mac)  Then, here, I hit the tree link and pasted the photobucket image location into the URL. In the "image description" window, I typed "Caroline's challah". Then I hit "insert". It isn't necessary to fill in the size. It looks like the program cleverly detects the size.


If you are getting a red x, it sounds like the URL for the image may have been incorrect.


You can also use the image coding on your photobucket pages, the one entitled "IMG Code - Forums & Bulletin Boards". For the little images in your photobucket, hover over them and a dropdown list appears. For the large images, there is a list of links on the sidebar.


Caroline's image of braided loaf (using the "img code for forums and bulletin boards"):



Hope that helped!


Merry Christmas!


-Elizabeth


P.S. For more information about placing images on this site, please see the Freshloaf Posting Photos FAQ

trailrunner's picture
trailrunner

I see the 6 strands laid out in squares. They are far apart. In the next pic they are close and you are wrapping a strand over/under...heading South from North. So I guess I am asking 1) are the strands supposed to start out close or far apart ? 2) where do you stop when you go over/under with the strand. 3) when you stop with that strand do you go counterclockwise and if so with which strand?


 


Sorry to be such a pest !! But I just love the braids and really want to learn this technique. Also after reading all of the steps in wild yeast making...I don't think I will EVER get it ....so difficult and so many steps...sigh THANK YOU ! c

ejm's picture
ejm

The strands were far apart simply to show that there were six. I tried to keep the weaving relatively tight.



  1. are the strands supposed to start out close or far apart ? I believe they are supposed to be just far enough apart to keep them separate and woven so there isn't a lot of air space.

  2. where do you stop when you go over/under with the strand. I stopped when I ran out of dough and tucked the end under

  3. when you stop with that strand do you go counterclockwise and if so with which strand? I went clockwise with each strand and just kept continuing around.


But I'm by no means an expert! I've only braided bread a couple of times. (Most of the braiding I've done is with hair.) Did you look at the braiding tutorials linked in my comment above? They show really well how to do that basket weave (much better than I).


You aren't being a pest! The only way we learn is by asking.... As for wild yeast making, it's not that difficult (ha, says the person who just murdered her wild yeast) When it gets warmer in our kitchen, I'll probably try again. It just seems like a lot of steps. It actually takes very little time to do.


Susan (Wild Yeast) has put together a very good step by step wild yeast starter guide. It helped me enormously. And there are a number of people here who have been very successful with their wild yeast. Just ask in one of the wild yeast  or sourdough starter threads when you're ready to take the plunge.


Elizabeth

ema2two's picture
ema2two

I'm also a regular challah baker, though have been baking it reekly with 5 lbs of flour for about 6 months.  That has me braiding 8-10 loaves of various sizes each week.


Here's a tip that helped me with my braiding.  I can't take credit for it, but I don't recall where I read it.  A great way to perfect your braiding technique (besides braiding bread dough) was to buy some playdough and practice with that.  I got the 'party pack' which has 8-10 small containers, designed to be party favors, in assorted colors.  I found it very helpful when I was going to try a new style of braiding, especially because using the different colors can help clarify the pattern in the braid and keep the strands easily identified as you work.


Glezer's blessing of bread has several sourdough challahs, as I recall.  The sourdough Lithuanian (she has an all commercial yeast Lithuanian and a sourdough Lithuanian) is very good IMHO.  My kids haven't acquired a taste for sourdough bread (yet?) so I make the commercial yeast Lithuanian often.  It is their favorite.  But the sourdough was fun to make for the practice of working with sourdough and the change of pace and change of taste.

trailrunner's picture
trailrunner

Elizabeth you are a whiz !! Thank you. I really appreciate the tips . My family was simply awestruck by the bread yesterday. They didn't want to tear it apart....but then they gave up and devoured it along with the rotisserie chickens I made in my Miele ovens. I will check into  Susan's instructions and keep you posted on the wild yeast.


 


ema: my husband suggested the same thing....get play dough ! So I may do it. In the meantime my daughter in law's family is here and they live in Germany. They are going to get the banneton from the German supplier and send them to me. I am so excited. 2009 looks to be a great bread baking experience. c

ejm's picture
ejm

It is confirmed; my six strand braiding was all wrong before. I made another braided loaf yesterday (photos still in the camera) and this time, I ensured that I followed the six strand braiding technique in Glezer's book. The resulting braid is MUCH different from my so called 6 strand braid of before.


We took photos as I braided and if they turned out, I'll include them in the new post.


I hope the photos turned out; the bread looks really beautiful!


-Elizabeth

trailrunner's picture
trailrunner

please do post the pics. I made so much stuff that I haven't been baking much of anything. Still eating !! c