Friday, October 22, 2010

Mellow Bakers: Challah (October)

I've made challah a couple of times before. In fact, after I began to bake my own bagels a little over a year ago, it was a challah recipe that inspired me to branch out and try other bread baking, and which eventually lead me to my discovery of Nicole's BBA Challenge. And the rest . . . is history!

The dough came together beautifully (I made a half-recipe): bread flour, a little vital wheat gluten (Hamelman calls for high-gluten flour which I didn't have), salt, sugar, instant yeast, eggs, vegetable oil, and water. After a few minutes in my stand mixer, it was the perfect texture, and I put it in an oiled bowl. After an hour of rising, I degassed it and moved it to the fridge.

I've tried traditional challah braids before, so I wanted to do something a little different with this recipe. I was really inspired by Celia's blog posts about braiding and wanted to try a round loaf. Like others have mentioned on the Mellow Bakers forum, I'm a little frustrated by the lack of specific measurements or weights in the braiding instructions in Bread.

I used 125 grams of dough per strand and rolled my strands out to about 20 inches/51 cm. The strands seemed long and to be a good width, but they were not even close to long enough to finish the braid. I got about 2/3 of the way through the instructions and then had to call it done. I still thought it looked pretty good, though!

It baked for about 35 minutes, smelled heavenly, and was a beautiful golden color. As for the taste? I was not disappointed, as I'd been by the recipe in the BBA. I'm not sure it's as good as the Joan Nathan recipe I originally tried (because I baked it so long ago) . . . but it's definitely has that distictively challah taste. I'm hoping enough of the loaf makes it until Sunday so that I can treat my in-laws to challah French toast!


  1. A nice and easy way to make a knot is this one -

  2. Looks like a great challah to me! Egg rich bread, light crumb. Yum!

    Must roll up my sleeves and have a go tonight. Abby, what's the bread in the banneton in the background of your blog? it looks beautiful!

  3. Neat shaping! Now I want to try that. =)

  4. Abby, I love the golden crumb! I got caught out on my first Winston Knot as well - rolls just weren't long enough! Did it make the best French toast ever? :) (PS. Thank you for the shoutout! :))

  5. Gorgeous! What a fun shape, color and texture.

  6. Great Winston Knot. I've tried this recently, too, but the dough was so soft that after rising and baking no strands were noticeable anymore and it just looked like a round loaf. So sad!