Wednesday, May 19, 2010

More time to practice what I learned at the Artisan Bread class...

just when you think you know all about bread... there is just more to learn. I found that out when I attended the Artisan Bread baking class. I had always wanted to learn how to make Challah bread, last summer, I would look forward to paying $3.50 for a loaf at the local farmers market. Now, that I learned how to make the dough in class, I had struggle with shaping the loaf into a nice looking braid. Even in class, my braided loaf came out looking funny. To improve my technique, I made a full batch of dough, enough to make 6 loaves of bread and to give me enough practice to braid dough. And plenty of loaves to share with my neighbors and coworkers.

Challah Bread recipe (Cholesterol & Dairy Free)
Yield: 2 loaves at 450 grams each

516g Bread flour
23g sugar
10g salt
80g canola oil
17g fresh yeast
37g egg whites
23g pumpkin puree
200ml warm water to touch

Egg wash:
1 egg and 1 tbsp of water

For a more richer bread, replace the canola oil with butter and replace the egg whites and pumpkin puree with 1 egg.


1. Put all ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
2. To make the dough: Combine all of the dough ingredients and mix and knead by hand, mixer, or bread machine, until you have a soft, smooth dough.
3. Allow the dough to rise, covered, for about 2 hours, or until it's puffy and nearly doubled in bulk.
4. Gently deflate the dough, and transfer it to a lightly greased work surface.
5. You may braid the challah the traditional way, into a three-strand braid. For a fancier presentation, make a four-strand braid, as follows. Divide the dough into four pieces, and shape each piece into a rough 6" log. Cover the logs with lightly greased plastic wrap or a proof cover, and let rest for 10 minutes.
6. Roll each log into a 15" rope. Cover, and let rest for 10 minutes.
7. Continue rolling the ropes til they're about 20" long; they'll shrink back to about 18" as they sit.
8. Braiding the dough, follow the video from my previous posting on how Chef Voss demonstrates how to make the 2 strand braid.
9. Gently pick up the loaf, and place it on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover the loaf with lightly greased plastic wrap or a proof cover, and let it rise till it's very puffy, 60 to 90 minutes. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 375°F.
10. Whisk together the egg and 1 tablespoon water, and brush this glaze over the risen loaf.
11. Place the baking sheet atop another baking sheet; this will insulate the bread's bottom crust, and keep it from browning too much. Put the challah in the lower third of the oven, and bake it for 20 minutes. Tent the challah loosely with aluminum foil, and bake for an additional 25 minutes, until the loaf is golden brown.
12. Remove the bread from the oven, and place it on a rack to cool.

Reference photos and directions.

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