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Is this normal –?

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Thursday night truly begins only when I do my challah calculations and print out the week’s customized spreadsheet.  I have spreadsheets like this set up for about 6 challah recipes and a few other breads (a sourdough cornbread, the chocolate sourdough I use for sufganiyot and a few more recipes that need scaling up or down at various times.

Every week, it’s a new printout.  I feel bad wasting the paper, but I feel like I have a clean new formula to work with.  What I should do is just keep a copy of the recipe, scaled for x2, x3, x4 etc (x3 makes 5 challahs, plus a bit; that’s what I’m making this week).  I have one hanging around from Rosh Hashanah that has something like x9 on it, and that was half what I ended up making, I think.

Anyway, I do waste the paper, and it may not be normal, but it feels good to start fresh each week… so there.

This is the basic “reliable challah” (eggless) that I make when somebody orders challah (I occasionally and VERY informally sell challah to friends in the neighbourhood…. if you live nearby and are interested).  It always comes out the way it’s supposed to come out.  I have scaled back the salt a bit based on comments, and it can come down a bit more from what’s shown here.

Here’s what I’m making this week…

Reliable Challah, X3:
0 g starter, of 0g needed
plus 1200 g bread flour = 10.5 cups (approx)
825 g ap flour = 7.25 cups (approx)
1119 g water = 4.75 cups (approx)
219 g oil
210 g granulated sugar up to 240g for yom tov
0 g = 0 large egg(s)
45 g kosher salt
30 g yeast
TOTAL: 3648 g = 5 x 680g challahs, 0 x 450g challahs, and 4 x 60g rolls

My trick the last couple of weeks has been pre-fermenting the dough with a “yeasted autolyse.”  Which basically means I dump in everything but the salt and all-purpose flour and let it sit as long as I want.

Sounds simple?  It totally is.  Sitting for a while before the salt is added actually lets the flour begin the hard work of gluten development – completely untouched!  This means that your dough will need less kneading when you finally DO add the rest of the flour and the salt.

(edited to add: this is not a good “overnight” step because, with yeast and without salt (which inhibits yeast growth), your dough is likely to rise uncontrollably out of its container; what I do is mix it, fold some laundry, then add the rest of the flour and the salt… like maybe an hour later?)

Most autolyse techniques call for just flour and water, no yeast, no nothing.  But that’s just too many steps for me, and this one seems to produce a very tasty challah with almost no extra work.  If you have time and want to play around, by all means, just throw the flour and water together alone first.  But I like my way.  And it’s definitely Thursday night now, and I’m tired. 

Maybe I’ll do try it the “right” way next week.

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