Friday, October 29, 2010

Shaping and More

This post is part of a three part series in the merit of a complete and speedy recovery for Nechama Gittel Chaya bat Chana.  Follow these links for more information about signing up for a mass challah baking or to learn some challah basics.

Tutorial for different braiding techniques using 6, 4, or 2 strands of dough:

I don't mean to dismiss the classic 3-braid, but here are some other techniques.  This first one is a favorite of mine.  It is a 6-braid I learned to make at Chabad House on Campus in Pittsburgh.  There is additional symbolism behind it.  In the original Holy Temple in Jerusalem, the high priest had 12 loaves of bread.  On Shabbat we use two challahs, so when each challah has 6 strands, they total 12 and symbolize the loaves in the holy temple.

My friend, Leor, makes a 4-braid.  Below are her instructions.  This video was my first time trying it. (See Leor's video HERE.)

"When I make a four-braid, I work from the middle to the end and then flip the challah around and work from the middle to the other ond.  Lay out the four strands and cross the middle two (doesn't matter which is on top - for demonstration's sake, let's say left over right).  From here, every step is the same.  Take the outer two strands, and do 'over the over, under the under', so the far right strand goes over the one next to it (since that strand was on top of the criss-cross) and the far left strand goes under the one next to it (since that strand was on the bottom of the criss-cross).  So, now your two outer strands are in the middle, so you start over.  Cross them (the one on the right went 'over', so it gets the bottom of the criss-cross, so again, left over right) and then with your new outer strands do 'over the over, under the under'.  Keep going until you reach the end of the strands and then flip your challah around, reorient yourself (for this example I think that means everything goes the other way now - right over left when you criss-cross), and continue the pattern of 'over the over, under the under' until you reach the other end.  You could start from one end like most people do, but starting in the middle generally makes the challah bulge in the middle and taper off towards the ends, which is the look I prefer."

This final technique Hannah learned from fellow blogger, Ted.  It technically starts with two strands.  I like it, but I think it looks a whole lot like a 4-braid.

Beginning of 6-braid.  I made the strands way too long and narrow
and compensated by making it into two loafs.

Hannah's 2-strand challah and my two 6-strand challot.

My first ever 4-strand.  How'd I do Leor?

"Pull apart" challah with poppy seeds.

Knots and silicon brush.  I want to get one of these
brushes for oiling pans and painting marinades on fish.

Below: How to make a chocolate cinnamon roll using Challah dough.  Please try your own fillings and comments with the results.  A couple months ago I made a banana nut bread by adding in ripe banana puree during the sponge stage.  The resulting dough was sticky and hard to roll, but the honey nut filling was nice.  Next I plan to try a poppy seed filling and make a pattern on top with the seeds, using a parchment paper stencil.

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