Challah -- what went wrong?
I just made Maggie Glezer's challah from A Blessing of Bread -- the recipe is here:
While it's tasty, it's a little dense and it has a serious crunchy crust, which I've never encountered on challah. I did have to refridgerate the dough for almost a day, but the recipe says that should be all right.
How can I correct this for next time? I'm assuming it's me and not the recipe.
In making ANY bread, I've found that a tender crust is achieved by wrapping the loaves in a clean cloth or tea towel after they've been removed from their pans. This way, the crust doesn't dry out, making that crunchy crust, that is appropriate for many loaves. I've not tried to make challah, but the dozens of others I have made have worked well this way.
I am reading the recipe, and it is a little confusing to me. I seems as if Maggie Glezer has tried to convert a recipe that requires a sponge starter into a straight dough recipe. My best guess is that it is not you and instead, it is the recipe.
Usually when I make a bread that requires the sponge method, you mix the sponge and it sits overnight at room temperature. Refrigerating the dough really doesn't have an impact on the crust. In fact, a long, slow fermentation is desirable because it allows for more flavour development. Typically, if I refrigerate dough, I let it partially rise at room temp for about 1 hour, then refrigerate it. Depending on the ambient temperature, you may need to leave the dough out from the for more than 1 hour until it is ready to use. I would trust the way that it looks more than the times provided in the recipe. Rising of bread is so dependent on temperature and humidity. If you are working in an air conditioned house, it will take a lot longer for you dough to rise than if you house is warm.
As well, instead of putting the whole amount of flour called for by the recipe, you could hold back about a cup, and slowly knead in the flour until it is the correct texture. Recipes that give you amounts in grams are much more accurate than those in cups, as amount of moisture in your flour is really dependent on moisture in the air. The egg glaze is strange too, I usually beat 1 egg + 1 or 2 tsp of water and sprinkle either sesame seeds or poppyseeds onto the bread.
If you are just looking to make a quick, tasty, low effort challah, I have found that the recipe in the Better Homes and Gardens book (eeek! I'm a little embarrassed, but I make it quite often if I am feeling lazy) is quite good. Otherwise, I would recommend the recipe in The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum.
Toasted with cinnamon sugar is a treat that makes me feel like I am 10 years old again.....