How Long Should Challah Dough Rise?
The ideal amount of time to let a dough rise is literally as it’s written, ‘when it doubles in bulk’. This is actually more accurate than saying “one hour” as one hour does not always work. If it is a warmer or hot time of year, the dough may double in size within 40 minutes. If it is a colder kitchen or a drafty one the dough may take closer to two hours or an hour and a half to really expand properly. This is vital to your challahs’ success. One of the (many) reasons that challah can stretch and crack when baking is that the dough was not given time to properly rise to begin with. During the rising process the gluten in the dough is working as well as the yeast; insufficient time alloted disrupts their baking qualities.
Overrising the first rise, which is when the dough is still just a dough, can occur. Usually if it overrose just a bit, say, for an hour extra in a cold kitchen, it doesnt really matter. You simply punch it back down and go on to the shaping. However, if the dough is left out for a long time, unrefrigerated, it can spoil, especially in the summertime. So if you will be gone for a while or you think you may not get to the shaping within 2 hours of making the dough, it is best to put the dough in a large strong garbage bag, remove the air, and knot it near the top of the bag so the dough has room to expand. Then leave it in your refrigerator where it will certainly still grow, just a bit slower, and when you are ready to shape, remove it an hour beforehand. This way it will not turn sour or rancid.
Here’s a good recipe that should hold its form and also come out really good:
(This one is going into my next bread book, please G-d, as I didnt put it into the first one…the first one has many other great recipes as well)
Simple and Quick Egg Challahs
Yields: 3 medium to large challahs, 4-5 small ones
9 cups flour, sifted
1/2 cup sugar
1 T. salt
1/4 cup oil
1 & 1/2 – 2 cups warm water
1 & 1/2 T. dry yeast
Put the dough together in the order specified, but only start with 1 cup of the warm water. Start to knead it (in your mixer with the dough hook if you have one, if not, by hand). As it turns into a dough, use your judegement; if it’s still too dry, add bits more water until the dough isa nice consistency. To get it to clear the sides of the bowl and be elastic and smooth, now add in bits more of oil, until it is a smooth, somewhat firm, slightly sticky dough. Let it rest 15 minutes, covered. Knead another 2-3 minutes. Turn it out into a greased bowl, turning once so that all sides are coated. cover with plastic and let it rise for one hour. Shape and let them rise 45 min – 55 min. Egg them, sprinkle with topping or seeds, slide them into your PREHEATED oven that is set at 350°F from 20 minutes PRIOR to baking time, and bake them until golden top and bottom.