Here’s our three tips. Now let’s hear yours!

By Dina Levy

Challah, our favorite. But so many factors go into making challah as great as it is.

I followed directions and kneaded the dough really well. I didn’t use extra flour and the challah still split. What went wrong?

From doing some research these seem the three main causes.

  1. Renee Muller wrote this tip in her post about baking the best whole wheat challah:

“I like to knead the dough for a good 10 minutes. Once those 10 minutes are up, I turn off the machine, count to 20 (exactly the time needed to line a large bowl with a plastic bag, and spray the inside of the bag with cooking spray — see the next note if you are raising your eyebrows in wonder), and then run the machine again, for 5-10 seconds longer. This is a little trick I learned along the way from one of the many challah gurus out there. It helps stabilize the dough gluten so that your challos won’t “blow up” in the oven and fall apart all over the place (ever had that happen? It’s so upsetting!!).”

 

  1. The oven temperature is too high, resulting in a dry oven where the challah “grows” too fast. You can easily fix this by placing an oven thermometer in your oven to make sure it’s calibrated correctly.

 

  1. The temperature of house, draft, and a temperature drop where you are rising the dough can also make a difference. Let the dough rise in a warm, dry area.

 

Please comment below with your experiences and tips!

10 COMMENTS

  1. Split challah??!! The most beautiful sight to my eye and mind! It means a happy fluffy challah, airy and bursting at the seams! I am positively ecstatic when my challas”pull”. It means they will taste simply perfect!

  2. I think you have to let the dough rest between each step. Every time you work with the dough it needs a chance to sit for 15 minutes. That’s what I do and usually doesn’t happen. And if it does, I have yet to see someone refuse a slice 😜
    Would love to hear “queen of challah” rochi pinsons take… !!

  3. Hi Dinah 🙂 I will.chime in! I certainly agree that every challah is beautiful, split or not split. But it can be frustrating to spend time making a beautiful braid only to have it split apart In the oven. The reason it splits is the sudden change of temperature. If you’re Rising the braids in a warm kitchen and then put into the preheated oven, (not more than 350… Higher heat can cause split) your braids should stay nice. 🙂 Good luck and happy challah baking!

  4. All challahs are beautiful. The reason for challah splitting is because there is too much dough for the the size pan. The challah needs space to grow.

  5. If you read any books on bread and about gluten development you will learn about autolyse. In laymen terms it means letting the dough develop its gluten bonds before kneading. It works really well to make an elastic dough that when baked is not crumby but instead has nice long strands of connected bread. This is why I prefer the traditional autolyse method of mixing my challah until just combined THEN wait 20 minutes and after THAT knead the dough for ten minutes (for good measure the salt goes in after the 20 minutes wait.) I think this method would work better that kneading it fully and then after 20 minutes mixing it again.

  6. My observation is the same as Gittel. My challos never split. After reading what Rochel Pinson wrote I’ve come to the conclusion that maybe that’s due to the fact that I put them into a cold oven and heat it up once the challos are inside.

    I did, however, have many instances where the challos rose beautifully only to shrink in the oven. Time to try the traditional autolyse method. Thank you R. Adler!

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