This week I have tried recreating, in EXACT detail, the trial-and-error improved found-on-the-Web recipe I developed two weeks ago (link has recipe).
I didn’t take pictures last night, but here are all the steps, starting from Step 4, where the dough has been de-fridged and brought to room temperature (today, for 2-3 hours because we went out).
Flour the top of the dough and dump it out onto a well-floured tabletop. Do not punch down!
With a bench scraper and floured hands, fold the dough 4-5 times. Dump it back in the bucket.
Let stand in bucket for 2 hours.
The folding steps should have made the dough workable enough that on a well-floured surface with well-floured hands, you can form it into balls, and then whatever nice neat braids you like to make.
The 16 balls I made here are approximately 201g each. Today, I decided to make two of Maggie Glezer’s fancy six-braid challahs (link goes to a video of her doing it!), along with a four-braid. So the six-braids were approximately 1206g (about 2.7 lbs) and the four-braid was 804g (about 1.8 lbs).
(The last time I made the recipe, I made two small challahs (681g / 1.5 lbs) and two large challahs (927g / 2 lb). I froze one of each and baked them last week so I didn’t have to make challah from scratch.)
The six-braids were okay for a second attempt… not amazing, but way better than the first time. The first one came out better; the second was a little sticky.
You can see that the end here basically turned into a sticky mess. I pinched it together and left it that way rather than making it worse trying to re-do the braid.
With the remaining four strands, I did a four-braid, but it came out very long and I don’t like long thin challahs, so I curved it up against itself and dumped it in a small rectangular pan… where it sat looking a bit like a brain:
Here are all three, under plastic and rising for an hour and a half.
Step 6: Bake
Finally, brush with egg, sprinkle with poppy (both because I don’t like sesame as much and because we’re out of sesame thanks to last week’s Purim breadstick extravaganza!), and bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes (I think today’s were closer to 45 minutes).
Mmm… good Shabbos, world!