Thursday, April 11, 2013

Challah Baking Tips, Our Favorite Challah Shapes and Readiness Check

Our family's favorite shape for challah is one I once learned from an elderly neighbor when we lived in Bayit Vegan, Jerusalem.  I've never seen it any place else besides our home and that time she showed us how to do it.

Use any challah recipe, white, whole-wheat, spelt etc.  I've been "just winging it" not measuring exactly recently.  And I've also been using half whole wheat and half white flour in my challah.  This week, when I baked to freeze in advance, I didn't use my usual dark brown sugar.  I used white with some maple syrup. I just felt inspired.  I hope it comes out well.  There's no reason it shouldn't.

When it comes the time to shape the challah, after it has risen and been punched down,
  • take six equal pieces and
  • roll them into "strings"
  • lay them on the table, baking sheet or whatever
  • three horizontal and three vertical
  • "weave"
  • braid the ends
  • tuck the ends of the braid underneath

Afterwards "paint" with raw egg and let the challah rise before baking.

When baking the challah, start on a higher than for a cake heat until it starts browning, and then lower the heat until it's lower than for a cake.

The challah will be ready when it's hard and brown on the bottom.

Here it is!

PS yes, it's a different shape from the one illustrated earlier in the post.  This one is the easiest and most fun.  This is the simple ball challah.  Just take pieces, roll them into balls and place them together in the baking pan or baking sheet.  The balls don't have to be exactly the same size.  Don't obsess, please.  It should be fun and easy to bake challah.

You let the guests or family just grab a ball when serving.  Don't cut this challah with a knife.


Jennifer in BreadLand said...

The "ball" challah is also fun for kids - they get such a great, professional-looking challah with NO work except rolling the "ballies." Toss them in a sprayed loaf pan and it looks even more like a "real" challah.

But... I prefer a thermometer to any kind of external appearance / tapping "doneness" tests. I had been baking challahs for a good long time but they still came out under or over-done (over is bearably dry). Now, I pull them out when they go over 180 degrees and I know they'll be perfect.

(I'm sure yours are perfect, but mine never got there without the thermometer!)

Batya said...

Jennifer, I've never used a thermometer. I generally find that by starting on a high heat and finishing on low, t gets thoroughly baked.
PS I don't think those thermometers are easy to find here in Israel. I don't remember ever seeing them in kitchen gadget departments.