Okay, so I went on a bit of a challah making craze. Over the week while I was on vacation I made 3 batches of challah yielding a total of 6 loaves.

You may recall a few weeks ago I made my first challah for our Bread Baking Day roundup. I used Peter Reinhardt’s recipe from Bread Baker’s Apprentice, and at the time I was pretty pleased with the results.

However, I wanted to do some experimenting to deepen the flavor and I also wanted to try some other braiding besides the 3 strand braid.

So I set out again, still using Peter Reinhardt’s recipe, except that I incorporated a preferment so the challah would have the richer flavor that I am used to. I also doubled the salt because my first loaves were a bit on the bland side.

Overall I was very pleased with the outcome. The flavor was absolutely better and richer, and I was able to achieve a deeper golden crust as well by using a whole egg as the egg wash instead of just egg whites as Reinhardt calls for. I was also very happy with the way the 5 braid looked.

Follow up:


recipe adapted from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread by Peter Reinhart

Makes 1 large loaf

For the preferment:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup room temperature water
  • 1 1/3 teaspoons instant yeast

For the loaf:

  • preferment from above
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 large eggs, slightly beaten plus 1 more for the egg wash
  • 2 large egg yolks, slightly beaten
  • sesame seeds or poppy seeds for garnish
  1. Mix the ingredients for the preferment together and let it sit out about an hour until it is bubbly, then cover and put it in fridge overnight.
  2. Let preferment come to room temperature, scrape into a large mixing bowl, add the rest of the ingredients (except the egg for the egg wash) and mix until it comes together in a ball. If it is too dry you can add a bit more water, and if too wet a bit more flour. I think hands are the best tool for mixing at this point.
  3. Knead by hand or on medium speed with a dough hook until it passes the windowpane test, dough will be smooth but very sticky.
  4. Lightly oil your bowl, form the dough into a boule, roll the dough around to coat all sides with oil. Cover and allow to rise 1 - 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in size.
  5. Punch down to degas and knead again for about 2 minutes, then cover and allow allow to rise again until 1 1/2 times its size, about an hour.
  6. To make a 5 braid challah - divide the dough into 5 equal balls. Shape into boules and let rest for 10 minutes covered. Then roll the balls into long strands to a reasonable length. Now you are ready to braid. Follow the instructions for braiding in the video below. I am not even going to attempt to talk this one out for you.

  7. Once braided, carefully place loaf on a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet. Brush with egg wash, cover and let rise for another 1-2 hours until it doubles in size. In the meantime preheat your oven to 350F.
  8. Brush loaf with egg wash again and add sesame or poppy seeds. To add the seeds, dip your finger in the egg wash, then dip it into the seeds and roll or press the sides onto the braided sections from your finger.
  9. Bake for about 50-60 minutes, until the internal temperature is 190F. Don’t overbake or it will dry out.

Here is my preferment, bubbling away. I love the smell of fermenting yeast in the morning.

And my loaves all braided and ready to go. I doubled this recipe to make 2 large loaves.

So my braiding technique could use some practice, but it really wasn’t hard to do. The loaf in the front is not very uniform. It gets a little too short and stubby at the bottom. That is the piece I cut off for tasting. I need to work on getting the top and bottom uniformly tight.

This one was more uniform but it was very curvy, almost like an S. I think actually this is the one that my mom braided. Let’s just call these rustic challah, shall we?

I think we both did a good job for our first time doing a more complicated braid.

As you can tell, this was much improved from the first challah below:

This post is being submitted to this weeks Yeastspotting on Wildyeastblog