Challah….No need to hit the Gym!

My go-to recipe for Challah has been the Ciril Hitz recipe we were given in our October bread baking class.  I even used it for the Easter bread basket.  Since I bought Hamelman’s Bread, I decided to use his recipe.

This recipe calls for high gluten flour which I actuallyhad on hand….if not I would have replaced it with bread flour.  Sir Lancelot was called to duty along with the bread flour, eggs and yolks, canola oil, sugar and an additional couple tablespoons of honey.  In actuality I should have replaced a couple of the sugar tablespoons with honey but I just added more…hey…food for the yeast and a slightly sweeter bread.

Hamelman’s recipe doesn’t require a sponge like Hitz so I piled all of the ingredients into the mixer bowl.  After the first three minutes on low I could smell the mixer bogging down.  I knew there was no way I was going to complete another five minutes on second speed.

I dumped out the bowl onto the counter and started working the dough.  There were still dried bits of flour and it was like trying to knead a deflated soccer ball and was very dry.

Inflexible dough...looks like a chicken doesn't it?
Inflexible dough…looks like a chicken doesn’t it?

I added another quarter cup of water to the dough and worked it….and worked it….and worked it….no need to go to the gym today!  What a work out.

I kneaded and pushed and pulled and slapped and whacked and beat the crap out of that piece of dough.  IMG_0748Eventually it started looking like what I was used to seeing and was stretching pretty good when slapped down.  This took about 10-15 minutes.

IMG_0749Into the proofing box….my microwave with a cup of boiled water.  After an hour I punched down gently per the instructions and left it for another hour.IMG_0751

At the end of the second hour, the dough was beg-ging to be let out.

IMG_0753 It was beautifully flexible, stretchy, golden and worth the work out!

The turned out extremely extensible.  After an initial rolling and then a rest, it stretched very well.

In Hamelman’s book he has a number braiding examples.   IMG_0757This one is called the Windsor but I decided to leave it flat. IMG_0758This used 6 strands and I took the other three, braided them and curled those into a ball.

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Back into the proofing box for the requisite time while I run to the grocery store because I used up all the eggs!

Baked for 30 minutes at 380 turning and swapping the trays half way and we have some nice looking loaves.

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