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Just made my first loaf of Challah (traditional Jewish braided bread). Bread came out great but the outside was a little crustier than I was expecting. The recipe called for an egg wash (also a first for me)... is the crustiness a result of too little or too much egg wash? Or to hot an oven?

Edit with more info

Here's the recipe I was using (from Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice):

4 cups bread flour*  
2 Tbsp sugar  
1 tsp salt  
1 1/3 tsp yeast  
2 Tbsp oil
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
7-9 oz water

*I did add a decent amount of flour while mixing because the dough seemed quite sticky.

Basic steps:

Knead for 10 minutes, let rise for 1 hour  
Knead/degas for 2 minutes, let rise for another 1 hour
Braid into 1 large or 2 small loafs, brush with egg wash.
Proof for 60-75 minutes, then brush again with egg wash.
Bake at 350˚F for 40-60 minutes depending on loaf size

I made a large loaf so I checked it at 45 minutes and it was quite a dark golden brown on top already so I pulled it out. The consistency of the inside was great and the crust was fine too, just a lot crustier than I was expecting.

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I've found that the crustiness of my challah is dependent on how long I leave it in the oven... If you want it less crusty I'd say you should just try taking it out a bit earlier. You can also try turning the oven temperature slightly lower. –  clueless Jan 23 at 7:35
    
@clueless why not post that as an answer? :) –  Mien Jan 23 at 9:36
1  
@Mien - I guess I don't trust myself enough that this is truly the cause, but it's what seems to work for me :) I'll post it. –  clueless Jan 23 at 10:49

2 Answers 2

I've found that the crustiness of my challah is dependent on how long I leave it in the oven... If you want it less crusty I'd say you should just try taking it out a bit earlier. You can also try turning the oven temperature slightly lower.

(I bake my challah in tins, and find that the bottoms of the challah are often too soft when the tops are just the perfect crustiness, so I flip the challah and bake for another minute or 2 upside down to crust the bottom. If you're aiming for a soft crust, maybe you can also try covering the top with aluminum foil? I've never tried this though.)

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There are many possibilities that are hard to choose from without seeing the recipe. Temperature is an obvious one and--counter-intuitively--it could be because the temperature is too low, but the hydration of the dough is another possibility (too much flour). Or it could be a problem with the rising time (not rising enough).

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I've added the recipe to my question, if you want to take a look. I did add some additional flour during mixing because the dough seemed very sticky... maybe that was my mistake? I only added enough so that I could knead it without making a total mess. I was focused on the egg wash since the interior of the loaf was great (not hard and dry like I would expect with too much flour). –  Henry Jackson Jan 24 at 5:05
    
I've made the BBA challah, it doesn't have too much flour. So I think we can rule this one mostly out (although I probably didn't add flour, I usually knead sticky in the air until the gluten is developed enough to pull the mess off my fingers) –  rumtscho Jan 24 at 11:51
    
You shouldn't need to add much--if any--flour. Are you weighing the flour? BBA uses 4.5 oz cups, I believe...getting the correct amount by volume can be difficult. Do you have an oven thermometer to be sure your oven is actually at 350? –  Chris Jan 24 at 21:21

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