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Mar 1, 2006 | From the kitchen of Rose


Feedback: I followed the traditional challah recipe exactly and caught the mistake to add the 1 tsp yeast to the sponge. After many hours in a very warm environment, the dough hardly rose. I tried it several times with no luck and even switched yeast which is very much alive. There is definitely something wrong with the proportion of ing. I'm an advanced baker and it's gotta be a problem with the recipe. also after making the sponge, do i immediately add the flour blanket or let the sponge sit for an hour first? When the flour blanket is added, can i refrigerate it that way? If so do i taked it out to come to room temp and then mix? I searched the book for answers and was more confused. Please help. I know once its right it will be sooo delicious like so many of the recipes i've made from the cake bible. I'm a diehard baker and have learned more from your books than any other. Thank you.


bread that is rich in egg, butter, and sugar or honey, is very slow to rise. You can speed rising by putting it in a warm environment with hot water in a container, such as an oven without a pilot light but with just the light bulb on. You don't want the temperature to be above 85°. If this doesn't work, it has to be the yeast. I'm sure as an experienced Baker you'll are not killing the yeast with excessive heat. you could also try increasing the yeast. But the recipe as I wrote it works for me.

When making a sponge, I always like to put the flour blanket on it as soon as possible. Then I cover the bowl with plastic wrap to keep any part of the sponge that bubbles through the surface of the flour blanket from drying, and refrigerate it. I do mention in the book temperature the dough should be depending on the different methods of mixing it, for example, if you are using a stand mixer, you want it to be colder when you start mixing then if you're using a bread machine, because the friction of the beater raises the heat of the dough. When using a food processor, I have everything as cold as possible because the movement of the blades creates the most heat. Please look through the book, exact temperatures are given for all methods.

In the coming weeks, I will be offering my new recipe for challah, that incorporates old sourdough starter. It makes braiding dough much easier because of the extra elasticity, and I think the resulting bread is even more delicious. I can't wait to post this recipe -- the picture is so stunning! But I wanted to answer everybody's questions before I posted any new things.


Barbara Rose
Barbara Rose
01/ 6/2013 09:30 AM

I have made your grandmother's challah bread recipe using apple cider vinegar. I misplaced the recipe and would like it. Can you send it to me. This was published in one of your books which I cannot get, I believe it was Celebrations.

I have always had success with that recipe.

thank you.


I am new to baking bread, so i bought your book and have to say, i'm loving it even more. I made Vienna bread for my husband last weekend and the bread lasted 2 day, he said it was like store bought bread (Please know that was my first bread). I have a question about the sponge, can i leave the sponge out over night, or should i put it in the fridge? Can I make a sponge for Whole Wheat bread, if so, how do i calculate the ingredients that go towards the sponge? Love your book.... Thanks for your help!!!!


barbara, many ppl like the look of the egg glazed part of the braid and the golden part that doesn't get egg washed because it isn't exposed until it is in the oven and rises.

the way to get it uniformly egg glazed and golden brown is to let it rise more before baking so that it doesn't continue to rise in the oven. and be sure to go well into the crevices of the braid with a second coat of the egg glaze just before baking.


Rose, I have made your traditional challah 2 time, one time as a 6-braid challah and the other a round challah. Each time the braids separate, leaving some areas without egg. What should I do? My round holiday challah is on the talbe right now. Thanks,


wait one hour and refrig. in general, never leave the sponge overnight at room temp unless there is only the tiniest bit of yeast in it.


Dear Rose,
I need some clarification on the timing of the sponge for Traditional Challah, please. Step 1 says "early in the morning or the night ahead, make the sponge". From these instructions, I take it that you can do step one and leave it out overnight. However, the full-flavor variation at the end of the recipe suggests letting the sponger ferment for 1 hour at room temperature and then refrigerating it for 8-24 hours.
So, do I leave the sponge out overnight or do I wait one hour and then put in the refrigerator?


erin, you did the right thing. you can do a sponge without the flour mixture as long as you cover it tightly but the flour serves as a blanket and keeps it from crusting so either is fine.

andrea, if you want a light bread you need for it to be so moist it is too sticky to touch except if you make my soft white sandwich bread that has both butter and dry milk powder which results in a soft white loaf such as wondra bread.


Rose (or anyone who is familiar with the Challah recipe!):

I am puzzled by the recipe. On page 521 of the Bread Bible, under "Ultimate Flavor Variation," it says to place the sponge in the fridge to allow it to ferment after sitting at room temperature for one hour. As part of Step 2, it says to sprinkle the flour, yeast, and salt in the "flour mixture" portion of the recipe, and sprinkle that mixture on top. Should I blanket the flour mixture on top of the sponge prior to putting it in the fridge? I already have done so... so I am hoping the answer is yes! I hope this isn't too silly of a question, but this is my first real jab at bread making!

Thank you,


Andrea Perkins
Andrea Perkins
05/13/2010 02:34 AM

Dear Rose,
Can you please tell me why my bread isn't light? It always taste good but is heavier than the store bought. also why do my braids sometimes melt together and lose their shape? would you please email me at dldvm@yahoo.com I don't often look at the blogs. I appreciate your help.


Can you please email me and tell me two things about making challah? first why is my bread heavy but tasty? second, why do the braids sometimes melt together and lose their shape? Please email me at dldvm@yahoo.com I don't often see this blog. thanks so much



leonard, matthew's explanation is absolutely correct.

what is happening is that you are not letting it rise enough after shaping it. if you let it rise until it holds a dent when pressed with our finger tip it will not continue rising from the oven heat and you will not get the color separation. (when the bread continues rising in the oven, the part that wasn't brushed with the egg glaze is exposed and is therefore lighter in color than the part that was brushed.)

some people like having that contrast so they let the shaped dough rise until the depression from a finger tip fills in slowly. it's as simple as that. the choice is in your control.

yes, baking, especially bread baking, is very healing. i'm so sorry for your loss.


Dear Matthew,

I really give the dough much time to proof,
I normally use a bread machine to form the dough and this truly works beautifully.
Then I remove the ball of dough from the hopper container the dough is almost perfect. It requires virtually very little work to clean the container

I punch the air out. form a ball, oil a 8 quart bowl and let it doube in size, usually one hour.

I then put it in the fridge over nite

The next day, i remove the dough from the bowl
Braid it and let it rise for about an hour. I then.
coat with an egg.

It goes into the oven and a beautiful center rises from 6 to 7 inches.

Th only problem is the seams open up about 1 to 2 inches. Please tell me why this happens ?

Respectfully yours.. Leonard in Tampa.

I lost my wife last year and this baking has given me much pleasure.


Hi Leonard,

I would try letting the dough rise a little longer. If it is slightly under-proofed, it will have more oven spring, and that will cause the braids to pull apart.


Desr Rose,

I have been baking Challah for the past year.
I recently noted that the seams in the braided loaf
come apart exposing the yellow part of the loaf.
The challah is still wonderful and delicious. What am I doing wrong ? Respectfully yours, Leonard in Tampa
82 years old.


a man named bill brought back a starter from s.f. which gave me the idea to name my own after him and after it's lively texture!


Judith, by over-proofing, I meant letting to dough rise for too long or for more than double. If you over-proof, it weakens the gluten structure of the bread, making it more prone to collapse. For some bread, it is better to under-proof slightly so that you will have more oven spring.


Felicity - thanks for you response. I completed my task but am not thrilled with results. One loaf with raisins and one w/o. I do not remember Challah tasting this way. I cannot compare it to anything because it is not easy to get in my area. My 5 year old wanted to help with rolling it out and braiding so we did it together. I must say that the loaf did turn out much prettier than I expected but the taste was off to me. I am not sure if it was a yeasty taste or what but it is strong to me. I am afraid it is the yeast due to the overnight sponge & SLOW rising (it has been cold and rainy here - could that have something to do with it) I do know that I smell the honey in it. It was a success though - My little girl wants it in her lunch box and my husband liked it so I guess one goal was met. Maybe I should start with something a little less demanding.


Fran - turns out it's a typo, if you just check the errata for the Bread Bible. You do add the yeast to the sponge (as well as to the flour blanket).


This is my first night on the forum. I got The Bread Bible from the library to see if it was one that I could understand (MAJOR beginner). I'm making the Challah sponge tonight and was confused when it didn't tell me to add the yeast. I would say I am below an inexperienced bread maker but I couldn't help be think the 1 tsp yeast needed to be added. I did a search and found this forum (YEAH!) I don't see specifics but think it could be a misprint. I added the yeast and am letting it sit for an hour now. I hope I was correct in doing so. I'm going to do the fuller flavor version and let it refrigerate overnight. Any tips on adding raisins to this recipe? Do I need to make any alterations? Am I crazy for starting with this?


Thanks Matthew for the advice. I will try leaving it out to try a bit before putting on the glaze next time I bake. I am not sure I quite understand though what you mean by over proofing--could you explain that to me please? Thank you!


Judith--couple of ideas. One is to let the bread dry slightly for about 5 minutes uncovered--that makes the outer layer a little stronger for slashing and glazing. Second, it sounds like you could be over-proofing slightly. When bread is over proofed, it gets weaker, and is more prone to collapse. Finally, not every bread is suitable for glazing, but if your recipe calls for it, then it probably should work.


I have been baking bread for awhile and though it usually comes out very tasty, it doesn't always look so nice. It always rises very nicely and looks beautiful in the pan before I brush on whatever wash the recipe calls for (butter, egg mixture, milk, etc) but the moment I brush it on, the bread deflates a bit and never regains its former height. I try to be very gentle when applying the wash but the problem continues. What can I do to avoid this?


Well now I really want to know what Billo means (other than "billow" (is your starter still named Billo Rose?) :)


it's kind of like a rorsharq test (if only i could spell it!) all great names. frank implies honesty, joe, goodness, and fred friendly. of cousre these are my associations!


Very interesting! I have not read the Bread Bible, but long ago we named our starter "Fred." It's like a household pet!


Rose encourages you to name your sourdough starter in the Bread Bible. Mine is named Joe!


I love the fact that you name your sourdough starter! I have had two cars with names (one was named Sol, the other one was named Bertha - a very large Delta 88 circa 1980- but I have never named a baking ingredient!


Thanks Rose! I'll be curious to see how it plays out with a better jar of yeast. In the meantime, I have a successful sourdough starter (named Frank) maturing in the fridge, and in a couple of weeks I'll be onto NEW Traditional Challah. I'll report back to let you know how it goes.

All the best...


don't worry. the only thing you want to achieve is a full rise at some point whether it be in the refrigerator or at room temp or partially in the frig ad the rest at room temp. if you don't wrap it at all with the plastic wrap it will probably rise too much unless you press it down every hour or so during the first 3 hours in the frig. do whatever works best for you.


Just wanted to add that I know that you do specify "wrap *loosely* but I've been having trouble figuring out how to get the plastic wrap to cooperate in being so loose that the dough has room to double in size. Is it possible to skip the plastic wrap step?


Thank you Rose - it is your recipe, though I am suspecting that I have a particularly sluggish jar of yeast (I had question marks about it before when I used it for my old recipe, but had just put it down to the cold weather). If there's no good reason not to, I'm going to take last night's dough out of the fridge, and give it an unshaped rise before proceeding with the shaped rise etc. (and go out to the store and buy some new yeast!)

One further question - if the dough rising in the fridge is constrained by its bonds (aka the plastic wrap, and plastic bag), how can it double it size? (Sorry if that's a dumb question - dough gets you thinking about these details though.) And if you don't have a gigantic plastic bag, in there any reason not to use my Canpro rising bucket (provided the dough is wrapped in plastic)?

Thanks again! :)


with my recipe it does rise in the frig but i don't know if you're using my recipe. if not, compare the amount of yeast to flour ratio. bottom line, you need to let it double before baking it to get the best texture.


I've been making traditional challah every week for a few weeks now, and have had no problems with the method of refrigerating the sponge overnight (no problems at all - everyone loves it). I thought I'd try the maximum flavor variation where you mix the dough and refrigerate that overnight (after giving the sponge a couple of hours at room temperature). I notice that the dough barely rises at all in fridge, and am wondering it if matters. The challah itself is delicious but possibly a bit dense and I wonder if the texture is what it should be. Does a dough need to double in size in order be at its best? If it does, do you have any thoughts about how I could modify my overnight refrigeration method so as to best allow that to happen? (It certainly is the most convenient, and there's no denying the flavor is good). Thank you for your help!


justin, you can't imagine what a huge metaphoric sigh of relief my brain had when i saw your perfectly confected explanation. i have nothing to add other than my appreciation as i'm hoping to spend the next 4 days in hibernation reading through the manuscript for my upcoming book. and what with all the numbers including metric--i'm now adding temperature (centigrade) as well as weight i really need to focus. thank you very very much.


I know you are looking to Rose for advise but basically I believe the answer to your question is that the yeast growth dramatically slows if not goes completely dormant after being put into the frig for just a few hours. If you don't allow the preferment to get started there will be less yeast within the preferment when you go to mix in the dough ingredients and therefore will take much longer to double in volume once you set it out for the first rise. This is not necessarily a bad thing though, the increased time to take the chill off the preferment and to double in volume will develop a lot of flavor. In fact Peter Reinhart uses a similar method to make his Pain a l'Ancienne where cold water is used to mix a straight dough recipes and put directly into the frig overnight. Then pulled out for a long slow rise. So in the end, your patience at night may be rewarded if you also have a tight schedule the next day. But something different like this may be easier to get into your schedule since during the long next day rise you can be running errands and whatnot. Hope that helps.


Dear Rose,
I got the Bread Bible as a holiday present to myself. Now I'm going bread-nuts. Question about timing or refrigerating starter. For many breads, you call for a starter, set aside briefly, then covered with a flour blanket and let ferment. Several times with using overnight/extended timing, you make a point to let sit half or an hour before refrigerating. Why not just put in fridge? For last minute nighttime baking, it sure would be easier to just mix and refrigerate.


p.s. joy, my old starter is never older than one week. after that i freeze it though if were 10 days old it would be just fine since stiff starter doesn't get overly acidic as quickly as liquid starter.


don't wait! do a search on the blog for challah and you'll find it easily!


Dear Rose,

I am waiting to see your recipe for challah with sourdough starter added. I bake both challah and sourdough regularly. Exactly how old is "old starter"? If mine is refrigerated, I generally refresh every week to 10 days.




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