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Monday, October 20, 2014

Culinary School - Session 27: Challah, Sally Lunn Rolls and Orange Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Culinary School: Session 27 (10.17.14)

Challah, Sally Lunn Rolls and Orange Cinnamon Swirl Bread

"Let them eat cake..."

... said Marie Antoinette. Or so it was told. By now, most people realize this was a mistranslation that has endured in popular culture. She actually meant, "Let them eat bread!" But it didn't matter. The French Queen still met with an unfortunate demise. 

As for the eating bread part... don't mind if I do. It's no secret that I love all things bread. After all, this isn't my first time in the bread kitchens.

This session marked the beginning of two units spanning nearly a full month dedicated to bread: Challah, Brioche, Croissants, Scones, Bagels, Pannetone... it's an Atkins diet nightmare.

Bread Dough

"What the hell am I doing?!"

The first day of a new unit is always chaoticA significant amount of time is required to cover the "lecture" portion of the material: an overview from the chef instructor on the fundamentals behind the products, ingredients and techniques that will be covered in the weeks to come. Here were some of the basics that every bread baker needs to know:

  • Lean bread is made from flour, water, salt and yeast with little to no fat. Enriched breads add fats (butter/oil), eggs and/or sugar to the mix.
  • Lean breads are best stored in paper or in a breadbox for up to three days. Enriched breads should be wrapped in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature. Both can be frozen. Neither will last for weeks like commercially produced bread containing preservatives.
  • There are three major types of yeast: compressed fresh yeast, active dry yeast and instant yeast. The leavening strength by weight varies with the type of yeast, but all yeast thrives in a warm (~80-90 degrees Fahrenheit), moist, slightly acidic environment with available sugar. Yeast is dormant in the cold. At temperatures above 120 degrees Fahrenheit, yeast dies.
  • Lean bread is baked at high temperatures of 400-450 degrees Fahrenheit to a final internal temperature of approximately 210 degrees Fahrenheit. Given the sugar content often found in enriched breads, these products are baked closer to 350-375 degrees Fahrenheit to a lower internal temperature of about 190 degrees. In both cases, the bread should be removed from the heat before the target temperature is achieved as the temperature will continue to rise (carry-over cooking) even after the bread is removed from the oven.

Proofing Orange Cinnamon Swirl Loaves

Lecture time means less time for actually cooking, so when it's finally time to start mixing, there's always a frantic sense of trying to catch up, including a period of getting reacquainted with the kitchen layout. Where are the dough hooks? Has anyone seen yeast? 

And then there are those unexpected lessons learned:

  • Lesson one: If you have every available mixer whirring on high speed, bucking violently and threatening to leap from the table to the floor as they labor through masses of thick bread dough in pursuit of a smooth, elastic texture... you will trip the circuit breaker.
  • Lesson two: If you do not change where mixers are plugged in, and if everyone continues to mix their dough exactly as before, you will trip the circuit breaker, again.
  • Lesson three: Even at the lowest temperature setting, the proofing boxes get extremely hot and will burn you just like a hot oven. The proofing box has no pity when it comes to exposed skin.

By the end of the night, we had been reduced to a huddled mass of flour-covered pastry students, absent-mindedly gnawing on freshly baked Orange Cinnamon Swirl Sticky Buns for comfort. 

- Ingredients Running Tally -

It's not at all surprising: we used a lot of flour this class, easily surpassing the 10kg milestone. That respresents about half of a commercial sized bag per person. Not too shabby.

Ingredients used to date (10.17.14):
  • Flour: 10,660g
  • Eggs: 5,000g (100x)
  • Sugar: 5,695g
  • Butter: 6,695g
  • Milk/Cream: 5,690g

- The Recipes -



Challah is the traditional bread of the Jewish Sabbath. The visually impressive braided form symbolizes the bond between man and god. 

Challah is an enriched bread, which means fat is included in the dough, making for a rich interior crumb. In Challah, oil and eggs are typically used rather than butter. 

Another unmistakable feature of Challah is the soft, shiny, deep-amber crust. This is achieved by applying an egg wash before baking.

Focus Techniques:
- Straight-Dough Mixing: combining all of the ingredients, including the yeast, in a single step. 
Weaving a six-strand braided bread. The process involves laying out six ropes of dough that are attached (pinched) together at the top. The braid is then created by repeating four steps. First, strand 1 (counting from left to right) is moved to position 3. Second, strand 5 is moved to position 1. Third, strand 6 is moved to position 4. And lastly, strand 2 to position 6. The process is repeated until the entire loaf is formed. It's almost impossible to understand unless you see a visual demo.
- Applying two layers of egg wash. The first egg wash is applied after the loaf is braided. The second is applied after the loaf has completed the final proof. This second egg wash ensures that any areas of dough that became exposed during the final rise are covered with egg wash.

Six Braid Challah Bread


Sally Lunn Rolls

Simple, sweet dinner rolls. 

Focus Techniques:
- Creating a preferment sponge. The wet ingredients are mixed with the yeast and just a portion of the recipe's flour. The mixture is then allowed to sit for 15 minutes to form a sponge. As some bread ingredients, such as salt, can inhibit the fermentation process, creating a sponge gives the yeast a bit of a head start in the fermentation process, developing the characteristic flavors associated with fermentation.
Hand-forming circular rolls. All of the bread dough is portioned into pieces of equal weight. The pieces are then individually placed on a very lightly floured surface. A round ball is formed by cupping the dough with the palm of your hand and rolling it between your hand and the table, slowly adding pressure between your thumb and pinky in order produce the round shape.

Proofing Sally Lunn Rolls

Sally Lunn Rolls


Orange Swirl Bread and Sticky Cinnamon Buns

A sweet bread enriched with orange juice, eggs, and butter. The dough can be formed for a loaf pan or rolled into a log with cinnamon sugar and sliced for cinnamon buns.

Focus Techniques:
- Enriching a dough with orange juice and zest for sweetness and flavor. 
- Adding milk powder to a dough in order to increase the fat content of the recipe without adding liquid.

Orange Cinnamon Swirl Sticky Buns

Take a look at the full syllabus

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1 comment:

  1. Atkins diet foods worked for me. i lost 8-10 lbs. in one month. but you have to do toning exercises to build muscles while losing weight. so your skin won't sag specially around the arms and belly.