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sweet(ish) bread - challah or brioche?

montrealeater Jul 1, 2013 01:35 PM

My mom used to make a bread she called 'egg bread' that I am trying to recreate and I can't figure out if it's challah or broiche or something else. The brioche I've had tends to be light, 'fluffy' etc. and the bread my mom made was heavy, dense, with a stretchy/chewy quality to it. Should I be making challah and just adding a little sugar? Is there anything I can do during the rising and/or kneading stages to encourage the dense/chewy quality? Any recipes or links to recipes appreciated.

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  1. davis_sq_pro Jul 1, 2013 02:00 PM

    Challah is also usually quite fluffy.

    Can you describe in a bit more detail what "stretchy/chewy" means?

    Typically dense breads that come to mind include stollen, brown bread, and other breads that are either steamed or include a lot of seeds/fruit. Outside of those it seems that density is usually not a desirable trait, so I'm not sure what style you're going for. (Outside of the style of nostalgia :-))

    In my experience chewy density is a byproduct of lots of gluten, over-proofing, and/or under-fermentation. So you might mess with: bread flour (especially hi-gluten flours, if you can get your hands on some), not fermenting very long, and leaving your dough out for a long time after shaping and prior to baking. A lower-temperature bake might also help here, as it won't promote much in terms of oven spring.

    1 Reply
    1. re: davis_sq_pro
      montrealeater Jul 1, 2013 02:33 PM

      Thank you! I am trying to think of ways to describe it. My mother doesn't use recipes and did not know what challah was when I asked her if that was what she was trying for - she's also in no way picky about how long she lets breads rise etc. - it depends on what else she's doing while she bakes. One thing I thought of is fancy bakery brioche vs bagged grocery store brioche. I am looking for something like the grocery store stuff - when you tear it you can see a grain, almost - the 'good' stuff is always delicate and has no visible grain, it crumbs when it breaks.

      Can you clarify what you mean by fermentation in terms of bread making? Proofing = rising? I am not familiar with the terms as they apply here, I don't think. In terms of kneading would more or less be suitable when looking for a dense bread?

      I know my mom's bread has a lot of eggs in it, but that's all I know - pretty sure no butter but can't swear to it.

      Thank you again for answering, I am pretty stumped here and it is so frustrating to know what I want and not be sure how to get there myself. :)

    2. f
      foodieX2 Jul 1, 2013 02:38 PM

      In my family "egg" bread meant massa sovada or portuguese sweet bread. It is thick/dense but still light. Makes amazing french toast but I love it lightly toasted with butter.

      I am not home right now but this is very close to my great grandmother recipe. We only put the egg in the top at Easter.

      1. a
        arlene29 Aug 16, 2013 09:43 PM

        It sounds almost like a classic challah, although I wouldn't call a good challah "heavy, dense". But the best challah can be pulled at, in the bread version of what melted mozzerella does, and if that's what you mean by chewy, it's a challah. Brioche is very light and fluffy and not pull-y at all.

        1. Musie Aug 17, 2013 03:52 AM

          That sounds like challah bread. This recipe from smitten kitchen has a chewy quality to it and can easily be made without the fig filling (or even with an alternative filling).


          1. chefj Aug 17, 2013 10:07 AM

            I will also chime in that it sounds like Challah.
            Recipes differ greatly, some being quite sweet, often from added Honey in addition to Sugar.

            1. Cheese Boy Aug 17, 2013 09:54 PM

              You are definitely looking for Challah if it's stretchy bread that you seek. Try King's Hawaiian Bread also for something sweet ... http://lepetitbrioche.blogspot.com/20...

              1 Reply
              1. re: Cheese Boy
                montrealeater Aug 23, 2013 12:26 PM

                Thank you for all the helpful comments - it does sound like it was challah, not brioche. 'Dense' was the wrong word to use, but 'chewy' wasn't. In my memory, it has no crumb-y quality at all and will pull apart along a grain, if that makes sense. I'm going to try the Smitten Kitchen recipe (thanks!), please cross fingers, I would looove to be able to recreate this delicious bread myself. Then load it up with butter while it's still warm. Ahh...

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