Wednesday, 7 March 2018

The Bread Bible: Traditional Challah

Well, here we are finally at the 2018 Bread Bible Bakers' schedule. Only a month behind now if you don't count the Banana Feather Bread I still have to make from the 2017 schedule. I'm not counting it.

The January bread is the Traditional Challah. We made challah early in this bake-through but for the first challah we used the recipe from Rose's website at her suggestion. The first recipe uses a biga which sits for three days in the fridge and, since I didn't need it to be pareve, I used butter rather than oil.

January's Traditional Challah uses an overnight starter and a great many eggs (5). I used oil instead of butter this time since I thought I should try the traditional pareve version. It is also moistened by quite a lot of honey although I ran out and topped it up with some golden syrup I had on hand. (you know things have got completely out of hand in your kitchen when you find yourself with two containers of golden syrup)

Although it was quite some time ago that I made the first challah, I still remember how soft and moist it was. The second challah did not compare as favourably. Although it was quite soft and had a lovely flavour, it didn't have that brioche-type softness of the first. I have to say, this didn't stop one of my colleagues commenting on the delicious smell as I toasted a piece for second breakfast one morning.

Rose suggested we use the website recipe specifically because it was 'new and improved' on the Bread Bible recipe. However I suspect that the use of butter instead of oil would also make a difference to the Bread Bible recipe.

Since I had already tried out the four strand challah shape I made a slightly smaller three strand loaf and a one strand loaf. The four strand is more spectacular but the three strand is pretty good. I had to fit it in my toaster oven so it doesn't have the desired tapering at the ends. 

I forgot to take a photo of the one strand loaf. I really like this shaping method - it was satisfying in the way that cleverly designed packaging is (or maybe that's just me).

I also forgot to keep on eye on the larger loaf and just caught it before it went from burnished umber to undeniably burnt. One thing I'm wondering, after my two attempts at challah, is why I get those striations on the dough - they happen when I'm rolling out the strands of dough before I plait them. Perhaps I'll go and google it.

The February bread is Spicy Herbed Breadsticks which I hope I get done before the end of March :) You can have a look at how the other bakers went over here.   


  1. i googled what causes striations in bread dough and google came up with bed sores! maybe we can consider them bread sores! that said--your bread looks great! even though traditional to taper the ends, the ends get a litle dry so i like this 'chubby' toaster oven version!

    1. The idea of 'bread sores' is both amusing (who doesn't love a pun) and revolting! I also googled but so far, apart from someone else complaining they had the same problem, I haven't seen any explanations. I'm wondering if it is flour on the board which creates little pockets as you roll out the strands? I will have to experiment.