Reply Tue 28 Dec, 2004 01:37 pm
I've been baking challah (egg bread) for years, but can't seem to come up with a nice tender loaf. The texture is fine, it's like any good white bread, but good Jewish bakeries do something to make their product tender. I don't mean "cottony" and softly blah, like Wonderbread, but the best term I can find is "tender".

Any suggestions will be appreciated.
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Piffka
 
  1  
Reply Tue 28 Dec, 2004 02:09 pm
Did you see the article in today's NYTimes? Apparently the woman discussed is very clever with knowing about things like bread flour. Perhaps using some potato flour or oil?

Quote:
TUNNEL OF FUDGE
Flour, Eggs, Sugar, Chocolate . . . Just Add Chemistry

December 28, 2004
By KENNETH CHANG

ATLANTA - With two bad knees, Shirley O. Corriher is not quite as nimble as she once was when she performs her "protein hop" - an interpretive dance of sorts to demonstrate the molecular transformations that turn flour, eggs and sugar into a cake...


And here's some challah information from a cooking forum:
Quote:
...regarding the faux pas in including milk products in a Jewish style bread has prompted me to write.

Jewish baking (and cooking) provides special circumstances including not mixing dairy with meat (in any form). Matzoh, the Jewish unleaven bread, must be completed within 18 minutes to be acceptable for Passover use. These are a few mandates of Jewish dietary law. Not all Jews are "kosher" or observant of these religious rules, but to those who are, the addition of dairy to a baked good may pose a problem. Many Jewish style cakes and cookies call for vegetable oil as an ingredient for this reason. * Cookies made with oil will be flatter (and I think crisper). Unlike butter and margarine, oil has no water to steam and cause puffing. Solid fats also have an ability to hold onto air bubbles and oil does not. Jewish style coffee cakes are incredibly tender and moist (yum) as oil quickly coats the flour proteins interfering with the absorption of moisture and the formation of toughening gluten strands. You do sacrifice the buttery flavor, however, when using oil...

In 1997, I attended SFBI's "Advanced Artisan Baking" class, an intensive 40-hour course. Our instructor was French and was a well respected and
accomplished baker in his own right. We made challah one day. As I recall, our teacher pronounced that challah was merely "Jewish brioche", and that when he had baked in New York City, the "Head" Rabbi was a great fan of his challah and had declared it, "THE BEST!". You guessed it. The challah did contain butter, and as the only Jew, I knew it was a no-no. As the only woman and one of only two non-professional bakers in the class, I felt that opening my mouth would have been seen as confrontational. I kept mum, but I did say a silent prayer that the Rabbi's challah was either butterless or he was aware of the butter as to pair it with other foods ppropriately.

Ellen aka Gormay

PS In "A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking", Marcy Goldman, in offering her recipe for "Buttery Egg Bread", says "Buttery challah seems almost to be a contradiction in terms- as challah is specifically a nondairy bread making it appropriate for serving with a meat based Sabbath meal". She suggests that this challah-like, Jewish-style brioche would be a good accompaniment to a meatless salad.

*The information on the properties of oil in baking came from "CookWise" by Shirley O. Corriher
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Magus
 
  1  
Reply Tue 28 Dec, 2004 02:41 pm
The "tenderness" you refer to is from the fat content. A couple of tablespoons of butter (per loaf) kneaded into the dough makes a big difference.

(A suggestion... try using "Half-and-half" in place of the water in the recipe.)
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Portal Star
 
  1  
Reply Tue 28 Dec, 2004 04:36 pm
Re: Bread problem
Tomkitten wrote:
I've been baking challah (egg bread) for years, but can't seem to come up with a nice tender loaf. The texture is fine, it's like any good white bread, but good Jewish bakeries do something to make their product tender. I don't mean "cottony" and softly blah, like Wonderbread, but the best term I can find is "tender".

Any suggestions will be appreciated.


Make sure that your yeast is good and active. You can do this by seeing if it makes bubbles when you sit it in the warm water. Bad yeast (which happens a lot) won't let the bread raise as much as it should - making a denser, less fluffy bread.

Also, be sure not to rush the bread raising process. Challah rises twice for an hour each, and it should double in size on each rising.

I have found that having a good, evenly heated oven makes a world of difference. Don't overbake.

Also, after braiding it, be sure to brush it with a little milk/egg/sugar/butter to crisp the crust.

and extra hint: I like stuffing golden raisins into the cracks in the braids of my bread dough.
0 Replies
 
Miller
 
  1  
Reply Tue 28 Dec, 2004 04:46 pm
Sounds real good! Please ship me some, immediately.
0 Replies
 
Mr Stillwater
 
  1  
Reply Tue 28 Dec, 2004 05:19 pm
Start with some 'bread improver' (can't imagine there's a problem with kosherness) - makes a big difference. I'm not so sure about overdoing the oil/butter thing - you are getting more into the line of a pastry dough with too much shortening.
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cavfancier
 
  1  
Reply Tue 28 Dec, 2004 06:31 pm
You could also try doing 3 risings, the first two for an hour, the third in the tins, molds, or on the tray, for about 30 minutes. Keep the dough soft as well. No offense to my heritage, but I like brioche, and some butter in my challah. Smile
0 Replies
 
Tomkitten
 
  1  
Reply Thu 30 Dec, 2004 11:42 am
Bread problem
Thanks to everyone who offered suggestions!

The common thread was using butter and/or milk; unfortunately, these ingredients aren't religiously permissible for challah, and so the bakery we patronize doesn't use them. That means there must be some other item, and I may have to ask at the bakery. Whether they will tell me, is another thing, of course . . .
0 Replies
 
Magus
 
  1  
Reply Thu 30 Dec, 2004 01:18 pm
Hmmmn... it could be OLIVE OIL.
0 Replies
 
Tomkitten
 
  1  
Reply Thu 30 Dec, 2004 06:29 pm
Wouldn't olive oil bring a distinctive taste to the loaf? Actually, I use Canola; would there be a distinct difference in thickness, etc?
0 Replies
 
cavfancier
 
  1  
Reply Thu 30 Dec, 2004 06:32 pm
I don't think that olive oil is a popular ingredient in a traditional Challa.
0 Replies
 
Swimpy
 
  1  
Reply Thu 30 Dec, 2004 09:59 pm
Ascorbic acid can be added to boost the yeast.
0 Replies
 
Magus
 
  1  
Reply Fri 31 Dec, 2004 12:03 am
While some olive oils are strongly and distinctly flavored, others can be pretty bland.
The sublte differences between various brands and types of oils noticeably affects the finished product re: texture and flavor.

One of my favored recipes uses the fat skimmed from roast turkey drippings... very "tender", if not Kosher.
0 Replies
 
Tomkitten
 
  1  
Reply Fri 31 Dec, 2004 08:34 am
Not kosher, Magus, only in that you couldn't put butter or cheese on it, or drink milk with it. It would definitely be considered a meat dish. Normal challah is parve, or neutral, and can be eaten with anything, because it contains no meat-related ingredient.

I never thought of using drippings that way, but it does sound good.
0 Replies
 
Portal Star
 
  1  
Reply Fri 31 Dec, 2004 01:51 pm
Tomkitten wrote:
Not kosher, Magus, only in that you couldn't put butter or cheese on it, or drink milk with it. It would definitely be considered a meat dish. Normal challah is parve, or neutral, and can be eaten with anything, because it contains no meat-related ingredient.

I never thought of using drippings that way, but it does sound good.


wait a minute, I'm pretty sure that the "can't eat a baby in it's mothers milk rule" only applies to the same species.

Like, you can't eat a cheeseburger (cow) (cow) but you can eat a goat cheeseburger (goat) (cow.)

In which case it would be fine to eat Turkey-dripping challah (as long as it was a bled and blessed turkey that was killed quickly)

Also, butter and milk should be fine if you aren't having a beef dish.

I like the joy of cooking's recipe for challah, although sometimes that can come out a little dense too, so you take cav up on his thrice raising suggestion, or add a bit of sugar/acid to the yeast.
0 Replies
 
Tomkitten
 
  1  
Reply Fri 31 Dec, 2004 03:16 pm
What I've always wondered is why you can't eat creamed chicken - there's no possibility of a chicken having been "seethed in its mother's milk". But there it is.

I never thought about the cross-species thing; that's really interesting. As far as I know, though, the prohibition is total, covering meat from any source.
0 Replies
 
Portal Star
 
  1  
Reply Fri 31 Dec, 2004 07:09 pm
Tomkitten wrote:
What I've always wondered is why you can't eat creamed chicken - there's no possibility of a chicken having been "seethed in its mother's milk". But there it is.

I never thought about the cross-species thing; that's really interesting. As far as I know, though, the prohibition is total, covering meat from any source.


I think chicken broth may be an ingredient in creamed chicken.
Once I stopped being Jewish, I ate a dish called "all in the family." I still feel guilty about it, but it's very good. It's a Japanese dish involving chicken stewed in eggs.

My family never observed it as being cross-species. Different people observe differently. When in doubt, ask your Rabbi.
0 Replies
 
 

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