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sweet(ish) bread - challah or brioche?

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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. 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

      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. 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.
      http://cookingwithelise.com/massa-sov...

      1. 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. 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).

          http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2012/0...

          1. 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.