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A question about a recipe: Ima's Challah

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I have a question about step 6 on the recipe "Ima's Challah" from Rivka. It says:

"Split the dough into two equal pieces. Set each in a large oiled bowl, cover both bowls with plastic wrap or a damp towel, and let rise at room temperature until doubled in size. If using white flour, this should take about 2-2.5 hours. If using white whole wheat, it will take closer to 3.5 or 4. Feel free to let the dough rise in the refrigerator overnight instead; if you do this, be sure to set out the dough in plenty of time before shaping, so it can come to room temperature." Can anyone give me a bit more information about letting the dough rise in the refrigerator overnight? Is it just exactly what it sounds like? I'm not great with breads (trying to improve!) and I'm not familiar with this technique, I always thought dough had to rise somewhere warm. Is there anything special I need to know?

asked by LucyS almost 5 years ago
2 answers 6669 views
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Lisanne is a trusted home cook.

added almost 5 years ago

I often do the second rise in the refrigerator overnight: give it a first rise, punch it down several times to deflate. I slick a little extra oil into the bowl and on top of the dough (just a film of oil). Keep the smooth rounded side on top. Cover with plastic wrap and a damp towel and place in fridge until morning, then take it out first thing. Can punch down again to deflate. When it's room temp, braid or form into a spiral (traditional shape for high holidays); an oiled, disposable aluminum cake pan will help it keep the round shape.

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added almost 5 years ago

I just made this recipe last week; it was wonderful! I think Rivka intends for you to replace the first rise of a few hours with an overnight rise in the fridge. Allowing the dough to rise in the fridge retards the growth of the yeast, but doesn't stop it, so ideally you'd get a similar amount of rise from 2-3 hours out of the fridge or 8-10 hours in it.

Following that schedule, you would mix the dough, knead it, put it in an oiled bowl, cover it well, and refrigerate it overnight. Just make sure you allow it to come fully to room temperature (which will take an hour or more) before attempting to shape the dough.

This recipe does not call for a second rise, though I did give it a 30-minute rise after shaping the loaves (as per Amanda's testing notes) and it worked out beautifully.

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