Challah Bread

Avatar thebbqbaker.com | 15th September 2018

Challah Bread.

I decided that I wanted to challenge myself with this bake as I wanted to try to bake something new and unusual. I researched a number of books with interesting recipes with unusual ingredients, shapes, and finishes to loaves and rolls. I decided that I would try and bake a Challah bread so I chose a recipe from Peter Reinhart’s book The Bread Baker’s Apprentice.

Preparation work.

I used Caputo Minotola Ora white flour which is my go-to flour. It gives a superb rise and a fantastic crumb and most importantly a great taste. The recipe calls for sugar so I have substituted that for the same in weight of a local honey.  Several eggs are required so I will be using free range eggs. Other ingredients include vegetable oil, salt, yeast, and potato water. I like to use potato water because it adds softness to the bread and helps the dough rise. The topping for the loaf suggested to garnish it with sesame seeds or poppy seeds, I have chosen to use poppy seeds for my bake today.

Mixing the Dough.

I start off by stirring the flour, honey, salt, and yeast together. In a cup, I whisk together the oil along with two tablespoons of potato water, two whole eggs, and two egg yolks. I set aside the two egg whites for the wash to be brushed over the pre-baked loaf for later. I pour the egg mixture into the flour and bring the dough together with my working hand and I use my non working hand to rotate the bowl. I add the water to the mix sparingly for a dough that is sticky and not wet or dry.

Challah Bread

Challah Bread Dough

I let the dough rest with a cover over the bowl for 10 minutes to relax the dough and allow the gluten network to enrich. I now place the dough onto the work surface and start to knead using the French kneading method. This can take around 15 to 20 minutes to achieve a smooth, soft, supple dough that will easily pass the windowpane test. I lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough boule into the bowl and brush some oil over the surface and cover the bowl with cling wrap.

Challah Bread Dough

Challah Bread Dough

I let the dough rest for one hour at room temperature.  I remove the cover from the bowl and degas the dough and then form it into a boule and re-cover the boule. I let the dough rest for another hour, the dough should rise by at least one and a half times its original size.

Shaping the Dough.

Challah Bread Pre Plait

Challah Bread Pre Plait

The next step is the interesting part where I form the Challah bread using five strands from the dough I have created. I weigh the dough and divide it into five equal pieces to roll out into strands that are about half an inch in diameter and around 18 inches long. I have found when I roll the strands out they can reform and stretch back. This may occur a few times so I stop and cover the strands and let them rest. I have found that if I try to force the dough to stretch out when I roll it out it can rip and I don’t want that to happen.  The dough can rip because it has been overworked which causes the gluten strands to tense up by repeatedly forcing it to stretch which makes it tear. 

Challah Bread

Challah Bread Pre Bake

I take the five strands and lay three parallel and lay the other two eight inches away from the original three as in the photo. Take the outer strand of the three and lay it to the left of the adjacent two strands. Then I take the outer strand from the opposite side that I started on and move that to the right of the adjacent two strands. I repeat this process alternating between the two sides until I have fully plaited the bread. When I have completed the plait I carefully press the five strands together and tuck it under the loaf to make a neat finish.

Pre Bake.

Challah Bread

Challah Bread Pre Bake

I now take a piece of parchment paper to line a baking tray and carefully pick up the loaf and transfer it to the tray. To finish the loaf I take the egg white that I saved and brush that over the loaf and then lightly spray oil over the loaf. I cover the tray making sure nothing impedes the dough’s rise. I let the dough proof at room temperature for around one to one and a quarter hours until the dough has grown by around one and a half times its original size.

The Bake.

In the next step, I light the BBQ and bring the temperature up to 350F (175C). I carefully uncover the dough and brush some more egg wash over the surface and then sprinkle poppy seeds over the top. I bake the loaf for 20 minutes and then rotate the tray 180 degrees and cook for a further 20 to 45 minutes. I temperature check the loaf to get an idea of the time remaining to bake. I am looking for 190F (85C) in the center. 

Challah Bread Baked

Challah Bread Baked

Once the bake has completed I quickly take the loaf from the parchment paper and place it on a cooling rack for a least an hour before I slice it and enjoy it.  I like to use a good quality butter which I think is the perfect spread for this bread. Honey works really well too because the bread has a brioche texture and richness to it; it’s quite simply superb.

If you would like to recreate these Cinnamon Buns and many more superb bread recipes I can highly recommend the following book.

Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice


Written by thebbqbaker.com


Comments

This post currently has no responses.

Leave a Reply