Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Grandma Shanie's Challah with Oats

I am ashamed to admit that I have not posted in several weeks. To be honest, I have baked bread. In fact I have baked several loaves. I just have not posted them. Since I was home for Holiday break, I just did not feel the need to blog on my loaves, however, I am back!

While I was home I did make Challah for my family (mainly for my Mother's freezer) but I did it a little differently. I used my Grandmother Shanie's recipe, but instead of using 2 parts whole wheat flour and four parts bread flour I used Oats. I used about 4 1/2 cups of bread flour and 1 1/2 cups of rolled oats.  I had to add oats during the mix so I was not certain what the ratio would be. My best guess is that I used about 3 parts bread flour to 1-1.4 parts rolled oats. The oats really gave a nice dimension to the bread. I have made many varieties of challah, but this was the best I ever made.

I should note that most challah recipes call for a bulk rise; then a shaping; and then another rise.  It's just like any other bread, but not my Grammy's recipe. This recipe calls for you to mix all of the ingredients together into a shaggy mass and then cover it for fifteen minutes. Then you knead the dough until it is smooth. If you are kneading by hand I recommend at least ten solid minutes of kneading. I always like to start my hand kneading in a large stainless steel bowl. This cuts down on cleanup. This allows you to adjust the amount of flour in the dough, prior to putting it on a wooden work surface. (This is where I added the additional oats, in order to achieve the right consistency and hydration.)  

Once I finished kneading the dough, I divided it into 6 equal sized portions.
I always use the gram setting on my scale when I do this.  I just think it is easier to read for this kind of work.  It is not critical that each piece weighs exactly the same but I would recommend making sure it is within 3-7grams just for the aesthetics of the finished loaves. 

Another interesting note about this particular challah recipe is that it does not require the seperation of eggs.  Most recipes ask for a certain number of whole eggs and usually a few additional egg yolks. It is not necessary to do this, due to my grandmothers astounding cunning and the fact that she had 5 little ones running around like a chicken without a head. Instead of just brushing the top I recommend brushing the whole loaf with one whole egg and one eggwhite for more yellow golden coloring. 

A side note: I go to services at Ohio State UNiversity each week, and the Challah that they provide always looks really terrible.  T tends to be bumpy and uneven.  I am not complaining, however, I am just seizing a teaching moment. The dough looks bumpy and uneven because it is not kneaded long enough and the Challah looks non-proportional because the separate strands are not scaled. One last thing: When you are braiding a bread such as Challah; start in the middle. Work from the center out, then turn the dough 180 degrees, then do the other side. It is possible to finish the bread without turning the dough, but it requires that you start braiding in the opposite direction and that can be very confusing without pictures. 

Un-egged braid

Challah dusted with Oats just prior to baking

Finished Loaf with ceremonial Sacrifice on the left

Keep on Baking!

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