The Fresh Loaf

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Kneading Conference West 2013 - Day 3

breadsong's picture

Kneading Conference West 2013 - Day 3

sunny dahlias in the gorgeous Volunteer Display Garden at WSU-Mount Vernon


Hello everyone,

The first two days of the Conference were amazing, and still, more great things to look forward to on Day 3!

Notes on the seminars and talks I was happy to attend on Day 3 follow:
“The Scoop on Braiding Challah” – Andrew Meltzer
“Flour, Flavor and Functionality – A Range of Choices” – Jan Schat

“The Scoop on Braiding Challah” – Andrew Meltzer

Andrew Meltzer demonstrated his amazing braiding skills!, showing us some beautiful ways to braid 100% whole wheat Challah dough, and brought an interesting book to about Challah traditions to class.

Andrew recommended practicing with boat rope, and when working with live dough, to ensure the braids are a little bit loose, to give the braids the right amount of space and tension, so they proof evenly.

He explained how to get the most even braid, when doing straight braids with odd-numbers of strands:
- start at the middle and braid towards you until you reach the end

- take the end closest to you, and flip it 180 degrees away from you
(the bottom side that was closest to you is now the top side, furthest from you)

- continue to braid towards you from the middle, to finish

For a 3-strand braid, you take a strand from the outside and place it between 1 strand on the left and 1 strand on the right. That pattern is similar for the 7- strand shown above;  you take a strand from the outside, moving it over 3 strands, placing it between the 3 strands on the left and the 3 strands on the right.

That 7-strand braid was one of my favorites. Here is the completed braid, before baking, and another photo of it baked.
Andrew called this a fishtail braid, but someone in the class noted the finished braid looked like an ear of wheat :^)

Andrew told us how he egg washes Challah, to get the best shine. The egg wash is made of 1 egg + 1 egg yolk, a pinch of salt (to help break up the egg) and a few drops of water, whisked with a fork and left to sit for a little while. When the bread is almost proofed all of the way, brush with 1 coat of egg wash, let the first coat dry (this is the key), then apply a second coat, then bake. Andrew said it is the 'wet over dry' that makes the crust shine.

He also described a neat way to apply seeds alternately to egg-washed braids,: wet your thumb and press into a tray of seeds, then press your seed-coated thumb on the egg washed loaf, placing the seeds exactly where you want them. The seeds should transfer from your thumb to the loaf. Repeat with different colors/textures of seeds.

Here are more Challah braids Andrew demonstrated...

5-strand, before and after baking

6-strand, before and after baking

...and a Winston Knot
(the soccer fan next to me was quite excited about this one, likening it to a soccer ball)

Didn’t Andrew do a beautiful job braiding these breads?

“Flour, Flavor and Functionality – A Range of Choices” – Jan Schat

It was a tremendous pleasure to taste one of the breads Jan Schat baked (he baked three versions of the same bread, testing out three local wheats: an Oregon Hard White, an Oregon Hard Red, and a Washington Hard Red).

Jan’s bread was absolutely delicious, the one I tasted made with Fairhaven’s Hard Red wheat, sour and sponge preferments, and 60% fruit (30% raisin and 30% dried apple).
Just look at the fruit fest going on in this mixing bowl! – you can barely even see the dough :^)
(apologies for the blurry photo)

Here is Jan’s lovely bread, before and after the bake

Another tasting pleasure was the Fig and Anise bread created in Martin Philip’s class, "Signature Breads".
I would have loved to have spent time at that class, and the bread formula the class developed was outstanding,
the resulting bread having beautiful flavor.

This Conference concluded with tours – I toured the WoodStone oven manufacturing facility in Bellingham. They make some really nice ovens, for home use too! and the test kitchen is really beautiful (cookbooks and cooking vessels galore, a great big mixer, those ovens – I could really have fun in a place like that!). I was able to pop into BreadFarm bakery for a quick tour, too, and pick up some delicious, fragrant loaves to bring home - that bakery is not to be missed if you are ever in the area (it's located in Bow-Edison, WA).


A really big thank-you to everyone who participated, presented, and worked to make this Conference happen -
it was so wonderful to be able to go. I’m really looking forward to next year’s event!

:^) breadsong

Previous posts: Day 1!, Day 2!

2012 Kneading Conference West posts: Day 1Day 2, Day 3





Janetcook's picture

Hi Breadsong,

I just finished reading all of your posts on the conference plus Floyd's followed by Rossnroller piece about the classes Derek is teaching 'down under'.  

Pretty exciting stuff to see all the enthusiasm out there going into creating good bread. Real 'grass roots' based on pure love of quality bread that seem to be gaining momentum across the country/world- at least from what I read here by contributors throughout the world.  

So much to learn and to try to create through educating people ….how far we have drifted as a society…hopefully all of these efforts will pay off as more become aware of what good bread is and how easy it really is to bake good wholesome bread.

Thanks for taking the time to report back here and to include the photos - I especially liked seeing the braids :- )

Take Care,


breadsong's picture

Hi Janet,
I am very happy you enjoyed the posts - thank you!
(I've updated my Day 1 post to include links to posts about the Conference, contributed by others, and updated this one to add some other good things Andrew offered about Challah breads).
:^) breadsong

Janetcook's picture

Pretty comprehensive coverage with the added links!  Nice to see a photo of you, MC and Teresa. (I was taken aback by Teresa's photo….In the photo she looks just like I do in photos….kinda eerie… a long lost twin or something….)

Amazing stuff.  I couldn't help but drool a bit with the list of all the different grains.  Would be nice to get variety back in the wheats that are available throughout the country.  It is nice to see the list growing and that the public is demanding these grains.  I am waiting to see if I can get my hands on any Turkey Wheat this fall.  I know their supply sells out really quickly and that they are all out now…patience.

Thanks again for all of this.  Nice to see that MC with a smile on her face and surrounded by good bread friends and good bread!

Take Care,


dabrownman's picture

Felt like i was there and very sad I wasn't.Now to make one of those tin can concrete and clay tandoor ovens.  I'm addicted to naan.  Yhanks for the great posts. 

breadsong's picture

Hi dabrownman,
Here's hoping you can make the journey to the Conference next year.
I'm hoping Naomi, Dawn, the folks from WoodStone (and both of those tandoor ovens) will be there again :^)
If you make your own tandoor oven, please do post about it!
Naomi mentioned how to condition the clay: finely-chopped spinach is mixed with yogurt, this mixture spread over the clay, and then it is baked off.
Happy tandoor-oven-making!
:^) breadsong 

run4bread's picture

A pleasure to meet you. Your photos are beautiful and summaries appreciated, they bring back the memories.

I was surprised how delicious the whole wheat challa was. I think there are so many more tasty breads, but using the whole wheat in the challa put it on my list of future breads. Beauty and flavor.


breadsong's picture

It was lovely to meet you too! and so glad you like the photos, and memories of the great time we had :^)
I hope I see you again at next year's Conference or another nearby baking class or event. 
I appreciate your flavor report on the whole-wheat Challah - I regret I didn't get to taste it.
I'm grateful for the many beautiful, flavorful breads I was able to taste and excited to try Andrew's formula, practice the braiding techniques he taught, and taste this bread for myself.
:^) breadsong

yozzause's picture

3 great posts  shared, felt almost like i was there thanks for taking the time to share, im sure there are lots of us that do not get the opportunity to attend such great events either through isolation or nothing like that happening any where close enough. Yet we don't have to miss out  with such good reporting coming in thanks again breadsong kind regards Derek 

breadsong's picture

Hi Derek,
Thanks so much - and I was glad to read the report Ross wrote of the baking class you taught in western Australia!
The students were lucky to taste those gorgeous breads, and to learn from an experienced baker like yourself.
So generous of you to share your knowledge with your students - I'm very grateful to all of the instructors at the Conference, who were so willing to share their knowledge about their craft.
:^) breadsong

Floydm's picture

Great write-up, Breadsong!  Thank you much for sharing all this!

breadsong's picture

Hi Floyd,
Thank you for what you shared, too - I really liked your post about the Conference.
:^) breadsong

pmccool's picture

to being there.  Thank you for sharing, Breadsong.


breadsong's picture

You are so welcome, Paul.
:^) breadsong

Isand66's picture

Thanks so much for your great report...I wish I could go to one of these one day but your posts are just like being there but only if we had smell-a-vision and taste-o-vision!

What beautiful braiding....I am terrible at braiding...guess that's partly due to being 1 of 3 boys and not having any sisters!


breadsong's picture

Hi Ian,
You're very's a picture of Andrew practicing braiding, using pieces of boat rope.
The ropes were attached with a bent paper clip, to hold the strands together at the top...

...a good way to get some practice in - I need the practice, too!
:^) breadsong

Franko's picture

Hi breadsong,

Thanks so much for sharing your experiences at this year's KCW, along with your gorgeous photography. It looks like a fabulous way to spend a weekend. Just wish I could have been there to take it all in, along with you and the other folks attending, but your series of posts for the conference are a great way for me to be able to experience them vicariously through your excellent writeup.

Many thanks my friend!


breadsong's picture

Hi Franko,
Thank you so much - so happy you like the posts and photos!
I hope next year you can travel down to the Conference - I know you'd have a great time.
:^) breadsong

varda's picture

That challah dough looks like play dough - thick and heavy.  Seems perfect for braiding but how does it taste?   Fig and anise bread?  Oh my.   Sounds like a great conference.   Lucky you.  -Varda

breadsong's picture

Hi Varda,
I do feel very fortunate, being able to go to this Conference, located relatively close by to me. Lots of people travelled great distances to attend, one travelling from as far away as South Africa!
I didn't taste the whole-wheat Challah (sure wish I had, when I had the chance). The dough might look heavy - Andrew did say that due to scheduling, it wasn't fermented enough, but that it would be OK to braid with.
The fig and anise bread of Martin Philip's class I did get the opportunity to taste, and it was fabulous!
Please watch MC-Farine's blog - she noted in her KCW post she's planning to post more about this bread.
:^) breadsong

SylviaH's picture

How nice to see your lovely photos and read about the conference.  

I loved the little WFO...just make a mound of sand and cover it with clay, let it dry and dig out the sand.  Sounds simple enough.  

I enjoyed seeing the pizza's getting made and your breakfast looked so delicious.    

What an enjoyable holiday for you!  Thanks for sharing it all so nicely.



breadsong's picture

Hi Sylvia,
Yes, the whole thing was very enjoyable, and glad you thought so too!
:^) breadsong

bakingbadly's picture

Sorry for the late reply! Just wanted to say thank you for your thorough posts on the Kneading Conference. It's much appreciated.


breadsong's picture

Hi Zita,
You are very welcome and thanks so much for your comment!
:^) breadsong