My personal favorite tip from Soshie was to prepare the dough Thursday, stick it in the fridge in an oiled garbage bag, and then abut two hours before you plan on baking the challah on Friday, take the dough out to continue rising on the counter in its bag. Once the dough has reached room temperature, take it out of the bag without punching it down, braid the dough, dust it with cornmeal on the bottom and place it on a cookie sheet to allow the dough to rise to its capacity. Soshie recommended egging the loaves right after you braid it so that the egg layer won’t deflate the dough. Once the dough resumes its height the second time, bake it at 425°degrees for ten minutes and 325° degrees for fifteen minutes. Check if the challah is done by knocking on the bottom of the loaf to hear if there is a hollow sound. The average challah recipe makes about six loaves. If you want to freeze the dough to use later on, Soshie recommends par-baking it, which is baking the challah until there is a golden sheen on the top and then sealing the loaves in ziplock bags.
Party guests went away with some handy techniques to improve their challah baking experiences, along with a sizable piece of dough to enhance the beauty of their Shabbos table. I said goodbye to my guests and cleaned up from the evening with the sense of satisfaction of an evening well-spent and a fridge filled with the best challah dough I ever made.Pnina Baim
About the Author: Pnina Baim is the author of the Young Adult novels, “Choices,” “A Life Worth Living,” and a how-to book for the Orthodox homemaker, “Sing While You Work.” The books are available at amazon.com.
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